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Christopher Bremble [Photo: baidu]On a wooden bench in Christopher Bremble's office sit two golden Emmy trophies, awards for excellence in American television. Bremble's Beijing-based studio, Base FX, has earned acclaim for its work on HBO dramas "The Pacific" and the ongoing "Boardwalk Empire."
But now the American film director is looking to bet the studio's future on the potential of China's fledgling film market after nosing out new opportunities in the country.
"There's an amazing energy in Beijing - you could feel it building up a few years ago - but now much of the Asian media industry is focused here in Beijing," he said.
Bremble set up BaseFX in downtown Beijing's Sanlitun business district in 2006 for the outsourcing of visual production work for Hollywood films and American television. He started the workshop with a core team of 12 people, primarily doing work on sci-fi productions.
What brought Bremble to Beijing initially were the relatively low labor costs and ample supply of competent digital artists. Base FX has recruited about 200 visual effects producers over the last six years, 98 percent of them locals.
These days, the studio is doing more post-production for domestic films, including "The Flowers of War," a film by acclaimed director Zhang Yimou that was nominated in the best foreign language film category at last year's Oscars. Bremble and his team are currently working on Lu Chuan's historical drama "The Last Supper."
China has about 10,000 screens nationwide, and box office earnings in 2011 totaled 13 billion yuan (2.1 billion US dollars). Although the per capita data is not particularly gratifying, the total market is still "alluringly huge."
Bremble firmly believes in a burgeoning Chinese film industry as it is "changing and the appetite to make bigger films is growing."
"The Flowers of War" was made for a record investment of 600 million yuan.
However, China's filmmakers are facing challenges in terms of diversifying the appeal of their films and balancing their budgets, Bremble said.
"Chinese producers churn out historical dramas and romantic comedies that perform poorly worldwide, but seldom invest in sci-fi."
"Also, the paycheck for big stars in China is astoundingly high," Bremble said.
Bremble said the U.S. film industry managed to deal with similar problems in its own development, adding that he believes China's film industry will do the same.
"What I expect to bring to China is the Hollywood way, a collaborative pipeline that helps to circulate brilliant ideas," he said.
"China's development is fascinating in that there's a real sense of risk-taking and learning from failure," Bremble said, adding that he hopes to one day work on an Emmy- or Oscar-winning Chinese production.
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