MIL-OSI China: ​TV directors convene to explore future of China’s TV industry

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Source: China State Council Information Office 3

China’s TV drama directors gathered on May 28 in Beijing to explore industry trends and the future development of the sector as part of the 2024 Television Directors Conference.

Director Zheng Xiaolong, president of the China Television Director Committee under the China Federation of Radio and Television Associations, speaks during a forum held at the 2024 Television Directors Conference in Beijing, May 28, 2024. [Photo courtesy of China Television Director Committee]

The inaugural Television Directors Conference, co-sponsored by the China Federation of Radio and Television Associations and Henan Broadcasting System, was organized by the China Television Director Committee under the federation, with support from entities like The Beijing News.

The China Television Director Committee, founded in 2008, boasts 552 directors from both the TV and online series sectors. This conference is the first major gathering after the COVID-19 pandemic and a celebration of recent achievements in TV drama creation.

Fan Weiping, president of the China Federation of Radio and Television Associations, said in his opening speech that he hopes directors would continue to focus on a new journey to achieve national rejuvenation, create new chapters with their work and promote the positive and healthy development of China’s television drama industry.

Liu Wenfeng, director of the art division for the TV drama department of the National Radio and Television Administration, stated that the 2024 Television Directors Conference marks a new journey for the television drama industry. He hopes that directors will adopt a broad historical perspective, a broad cultural perspective and a broad era perspective when creating new series. In the creation and production of television dramas, he emphasized the importance of ensuring that people are participants and beneficiaries.

Director Zheng Xiaolong, 71, president of the China Television Director Committee, called the conference a great platform for exchange between directors. “We have been through rains and storms, and we help and support each other. It’s warm, and it’s like a beautiful big family. Let’s continue to move forward together in the future.”

How to tell a good Chinese story was a topic discussed at an industry forum during the conference. For Zheng, who directed such series as “Stories from the Editorial Board” (1991), “A Native of Beijing in New York” (1992) and “Empresses in the Palace” (2011), a high-quality TV drama should first possess spiritual connotations, reflecting the Zeitgeist, which is the soul of a good work. He also voiced that directors must always adhere to their original aspirations. “We must still adhere to our ideals; otherwise, the ones who will ultimately suffer are ourselves. We are engaged in artistic creation, not just earning money for a living.”

Zheng added that if directors are unsure what to create, they should explore life itself for inspiration, as it always provides ideas for creative content. “Social reality is our best material,” he concluded.

Yang Lei, the director of “Three-Body,” a recently popular Chinese sci-fi series, discussed his thoughts on creating science fiction series. “There’s a misconception that sci-fi should mimic American blockbusters. In reality, Western sci-fi utilizes the genre to depict their own history. We should find our own key within our culture. ‘Sci-fi’ is a new method for telling traditional stories. Our sci-fi works should be linked to Chinese civilization and history, with their own intrinsic significance.”

Additionally, executives and experts from Tencent Video, iQiyi, and Youku also discussed topics such as the use of new technologies in TV drama creation and directorial innovations. During the conference, Yang Beibei, deputy head of Beijing’s Chaoyang district government, also recommended 102 locations in the district suitable for filming various TV series, including Sanlitun, the China World Trade Center and Beijing Olympic Park.

Directors pose with award plaques of the “Director of the Year” award during a gala at the 2024 Television Directors Conference in Beijing, May 28, 2024. [Photo courtesy of China Television Director Committee]

The 2024 Television Directors Conference concluded with a gala where various awards were presented to directors, actors and behind-the-scenes crew. Notably, the “Director of the Year” award was handed out to five directors: Xu Jizhou, Yan Jiangang, Yang Lei, Kang Honglei and Yang Yang. A total of 14 TV productions were named “TV Series of the Year,” including “Three-Body,” “The Knockout,” “A Long Way Home,” “Imperfect Victim” and “The Heart.”

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