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Short movies to make TV debut overseas

Time:2013-05-18   Source:China Daily

Short movies from China are to make their debut on TV overseas in September, with the broadcasting and online distribution rights for about 30 shorts bought by a British company.

The movies last for a total of 10 hours and will be shown in the United States, Europe and East Africa. It is the first time short films from China have been exported.

Performers from Shaanxi province grab the limelight at the ninth China (Shenzhen) International Cultural Industries Fair, which opened on Friday. The four-day event showcases the country’s rich cultural diversity. PHOTO BY LIANG XU / XINHUA

The country’s short-movie producers are excited about entering overseas markets, and hope this can help promote the art form at home, and speed up its industrialization.

The deal was signed on Friday between Shorts International — a short-movie entertainment company with the world’s largest catalogue dedicated to shorts, and vast partnerships with satellite and cable TV networks worldwide — and Shenzhen Times Network Media, the copyright agent for seven of the movies selected.

Carter Pilcher, CEO of Shorts International, said: "China is a powerhouse in the world, and people are eager to know about the country through its movies.

"People may not be patient enough to watch a long feature, but they will be interested in watching a short one."

Pierre-Yves Lochon, CEO of Sinapses Asia, who coordinates selection and purchasing for Shorts International, told China Daily that if audience feedback is positive, the buyer may make it a long-term deal by purchasing the overseas telecast rights for about 10 Chinese short movies every year.

The seven Chinese shorts that Shorts International bought from Shenzhen Times Network Media are among winners of the KingBonn Award at the China International (KingBonn) New Media Shorts Festival, the only State-recognized international short film award in China. The award celebrates its fourth anniversary this year and has attracted 30,031 entries from 94 countries and regions.

The remaining short films that have been bought are either winners or nominees at film festivals in Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, or come from independent producers.

Announcement of the deal preceded a four-day trade fair in short movies at the venue for the ninth China (Shenzhen) International Cultural Industries Fair.

Hu Liangming, general manager of Shenzhen Times Network Media, said he hopes the international deal can stimulate domestic transactions for Chinese shorts, which are still struggling to generate revenue.

In Western countries, short movies reach audiences through multiple distribution channels, including electronic sales on iTunes and Amazon, theater screenings, pay-TV channels and video on demand subscription. In China, people watch shorts online and free of charge in most cases.

Zhu Xiangyang, chief content officer of Youku.com, which has the biggest share of the country’s online video market, said, "Chinese people still think that they don’t need to pay for information on the Internet." Zhu highlighted this root cause of Chinese new-media shorts’ financial plight at a forum on Tuesday in Shenzhen, which formed part of the China International (KingBonn) New Media Shorts Festival.

Chen Yan, secretary-general of the Shenzhen Copyright Society, said that to enhance copyright protection the society has launched two platforms for copyright owners to have their ownership registered. This costs only 10 yuan ($1.60).

Merger wave

Zhu from Youku.com said while the production and broadcasting of short movies are separated in Western countries, in China a trend has emerged for a video website to take on both roles.

A wave of mergers and acquisitions has swept video websites in China since last year, including the merger of Youku.com and Tudou.com and Baidu’s purchase of the video section of Pps.tv to merge it with Iqiyi.com, Baidu’s video brand, on May 7.

"These new website giants need to differentiate their affiliated brands," Zhu said.

However, even a platform as large as Youku.com has found it difficult to attract investment for the production of short movies.

Zhu said Youku.com makes little profit from producing shorts or promoting users’ shorts. He doesn’t think it is realistic to rely on new media to invest in its self-made shorts in the long term.