With a population of over 1.3 billion people, and a love of story telling, China has the potential to have one of the largest film industries in the world. So it was with great excitement that Stage and Screen Senior Business Development Manager, Jacqui Walter travelled to Beijing and Shanghai in June as part of an official Australian delegation.
Stage and Screen was one of 12 Ausfilm corporate members to participate in the annual Australia-China Film Industry Exchange, which was also facilitated by Screen Australia in partnership with Austrade. Jacqui Walter was in good company as the high profile delegation also included Government leaders, film and television agencies and senior representatives from Australia’s film production industry.
With the Chinese film industry growing at a rapid rate all parties enthusiastically welcomed the opportunity to explore joint TV and film projects and co-productions. “A real focus for Australia is to secure local investment from the booming Chinese film industry,” said Jacqui Walter. “There are currently 55,000 cinema screens in China and the industry is also seeing a relaxation by the government of the type of films which are being approved for production. The stories being told are becoming more diverse and using iconic Australian scenery as a backdrop is very interesting to Chinese audiences.”
For Stage and Screen the trip to China featured back to back meetings and events with industry heavy weights including company Presidents, high profile directors, producers, film finance companies and some of the biggest entertainment companies in the world, such Tencent Media and Alibaba Pictures.
The timing of the trip also coincided with the Coalition Government announcing a $140 million Location Incentive over four years to attract more TV and film production to Australia. “Companies filming in Australia can apply for a number of rebates with the new Location Incentive potentially increasing the current 16.5 per cent offset rebate to a total of 30 per cent - and that makes Australia a very competitive location to film,” said Jacqui. “Plus there’s the flow on effect of employment for local Australian crews and business for travel companies such as Stage and Screen.”
Stage and Screen was the only travel company to be represented during the full five days of talks and the opportunity to cement relationships with the people on the ground who make the decisions was invaluable. “The people I met were very interested to know that there is specialist film travel company in Australia – with established connections in the industry and experience with travel to some of the most popular film locations in the country,” said Jacqui.
From a cultural perspective, Jacqui said it was also important to meet Chinese business people on their own territory and to get an insight into how business is done on both a formal and informal level. “While business meetings are very formal, is was great to also attend some more relaxed networking events – including one at the Australian General Consul’s house with just 40 guests”, said Jacqui.
Since returning, Jacqui has been busy following up with contacts she made and sending emails – in both English and Mandarin! She is also tapping into local knowledge she gained – including using WeChat for business conversations and a lot of emojis!
Stage and Screen plan to also participate in the next delegation to China.