Throughout June a group of LSBU students (from the School of Arts and Creative Industries) participated in an educational trip to China. The trip was specifically designed for students participating in the 'Contemporary Chinese Cinema with Mandarin' module. Their experiences in China helped them learn more about Chinese film whilst enhancing their understanding of Chinese language and culture. The trip was supported and organised by the Confucius Institute for TCM (CITCM).
The first 4 days were spent in Beijing and were packed full with film related excursions. They began with a visit to Xingmei town, which is the largest exterior base in China for shooting Ming and Qing dynasty scenes. A member of staff from Xingmei provided a site tour and explained the functions of various props and sets. Students also observed a shooting scene which was taking place on site that day.
The students also visited Scenefone, one of China’s top film equipment rental companies. The company also has studio space, experienced personnel and technical consultancy services. The CEO of Scenefone, Mr. SU Chunrui, provided a tour of the indoor shooting studios and explained the general routines of a typical shooting crew. Mr SU also showed the students their film equipment, including their top-range professional cameras, lenses and lighting and lifting equipment. The tour was followed by a question and answer session, during which students learnt more about the equipment operations procedures.
A visit to Wanda’s headquarter cinema, which is located in the CBD area of Beijing, was also planned. The manager Mr CHI Zheng showed the students all of the hi-tech facilities which are used in this cinema, including IMAX, 4D screen, Real D6FL and Dolby Atmos. At the end of the tour, Mr CHI briefed about Wanda’s business model and market share in China (it is the biggest cinema operator of China). Students were then given the opportunity to ask questions about the development of Chinese cinema and the Chinese film market over the last decade.
The students also had the opportunity to visit one of China’s leading post-production film companies, called Phenom-films. During the visit, Ms ZHOU Le, chief brand officer, provided a very insightful tour and explained the functions of the various departments and studios. He then gave a talk about the companies history and culture. Mr WU Shijie, a senior visual effect supervisor at Phenom Films, used scenes from the film Mojin to show how they created the CGI scenes. He also shared the thoughts and techniques behind the creation.
The final excursion was to Cutting Edge Pictures, a company founded by one of China’s most creative directors CHENG Er. After a tour of his studio, Director CHENG showed a scene from his award-winning film 'The Wasted Times' and explained the creation and production process for this film. Later on, Mr LI Ning, the CEO of New Classics Media joined the talk and discussed the challenges and opportunitites which face Chinese film makers in China's fast growing film industry.
Besides participating in many film related activities in Beijing, the students also had the opportunity to visit the Temple of Heaven, The Forbidden City and the Great Wall.
The second half of the trip was spent in Harbin. Harbin is home to LSBU’s partner universities (Heilongjiang University for Chinese Medicine (HUCM) and Harbin Normal University). On the first night in Harbin, HUCM prepared a welcome dinner at which students from both HUCM and LSBU delivered performances and made friends. Whilst in Harbin students participated in Chinese language and culture classes and joined cultural excursions to sites including the Sun Island, Harbin Grand Theater and the Siberian Tiger Park.
After returning from China one of the students, named Carol Tuazon, explained that ‘This trip was hugely insightful and has given me motivation towards my future ambitions…..This trip was not a holiday, every day had a packed schedule, meaning we made the most out of each and every day. There was always something new to learn and see’.
Alex Ion, another student, expressed that 'the trip to China was probably the most extraordinary thing I have done in recent years. The memories of visiting the cultural sites, the bonds we made with the Chinese students and the fun we had will stay with me forever. Most importantly was that we had the chance to visit the film studios in Beijing and establish contacts in the Chinese film industry. China is a place I will gladly return to in the future and I hope I’ll have this chance again.
CITCM aims to enhance cross cultural communication and engagement in the fields of education, research and industry. Such trips can significantly help students to gain a better understanding of their speciality in an international context. Such skills will prove very valuable when students start to look for employment opportunities.