Written by on Jun 17, 2013. Posted in On Location

Supervising Location Manager Bill Doyle scouts China’s Hengdian World Studios

Supervising Location Manager Bill Doyle recently scouted filming locations across China and visited the facilities at Hengdian World Studios in Zhejiang Province in the east. He talks to The Location Guide about what China has to offer.

Doyle scouted China from the Bohai Sea near Beijing, west to the Gobi Desert and Mongolia for an ambitious feature production from Legendary Pictures entitled The Great Wall. The production has since shut down, but it was planned as an historical drama set during the Song Dynasty of AD 1200. Doyle was impressed with the location filming options he saw.

“From major, high tech cities to vast deserts, the country has virtually untapped location potential for international productions,” Doyle observes: “The issue and the learning curve every western company will have to contend with is that very particular way of doing business; the Chinese way. Don't think you can go in there without a major attitude adjustment to how business is done, as it does not compare to anywhere else I have been.”

Doyle explains that approaches to problem-solving, contract negotiations and the concept of leadership – particularly pertinent to a film production – are very different in China and can lead to frustrations for western crews.

Hengdian World Studios was originally set as the film’s production base and Doyle familiarised himself with the grandiose facility four hours south-west of Shanghai.

“Hengdian was just putting the finishing touches on their sound stages there,” Doyle observes: “But the back lots are the real draws. There are massive sets spreading over 100 acres, including a Song Dynasty Village built around a lake, a huge Imperial Palace and walled city, and a nearly-complete replica of the Forbidden City in Beijing.”

Hollywood is eager to tap into the Chinese production market, which is the second biggest in the world. Co-production agreements, like the deal made recently for Transformers 4 to shoot partly on location in China, help US features bypass tight Chinese restrictions on international releases and are likely to be rewarded at the box-office.

(Photos courtesy of Bill Doyle)


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