Monday, March 4, 2013

Screenwriters! China needs you.

Well, in what one could call it "chopstick diplomacy" China is inviting American screenwriters to send their screenplays to China because, after all, who knows movies more than America.

Sure, they weren't the first ones to make movies, but they are the most successful at making movies the world wants to see. I know India makes 5 million movies, or something like that but American movies go to almost every country in the world.

Hell, that's why I'm here. I'm a Canadian who found little opportunity in Canada for what I wanted to write, mainly movies that people see. Canada has two separate movie industries, the English version and the French version.

The English version movies rarely get seen even in Canada. There are the exceptions like David Cronenberg who can still get international releases and maybe that Atom guy who makes movies primarily for a Toronto crowd who believe he has talent. And I have to add my friend Phil Borsos, who made one of the 10 best movies in Canada, The Grey Fox.  

English-Canadian movies suffer the same problem as most of Canada, in that they are somewhere between being American or British. And that's both in movies and TV. 

But French-Canada makes good movies and even great movies. They've even won Academy Awards for their movies. And my take on it is that they have an identity. They know who they are. Sure, they're stubborn as hell, but they make beautiful movies. And of course they rarely get seen in most of Canada as well.

But they get seen in Quebec with it's 9 million or so residents.

Back to China.

The U.S. film industry has been sneaking into China over the past few years to try and get that audience of a billion and a half people. As my friend said about selling shoelaces to Chinese... you would at least be a millionaire.

Naturally some advance troops have already staked out their territory much like sly Americans staked out Viet Nam for business even as the last Americans were helicoptered off the country. 

And China is no slouch either, they bought the enormous AMC Entertainment theater chain. A handful of Hollywood studios are also building movie studies as you read this. 

There have been restrictions on foreign movies for years in China and also more pirating than anywhere else. So if you can't beat 'em, then join 'em. Right.

So dig out your screenplay and send it to the 2013 Beijing International Screenwriting Competition right now.  But don't forget, it's only for Americans.

And short films are included too.

I gotta run now and dig out my 40 spec screenplays...