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Providing budding actors with a sense of direction

By XING WEN | China Daily | Updated: 2020-11-04 10:07
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Young actors and actresses participate in the online reality show Action! to hone their performing skills by acting out some scenes from movies or TV dramas, including Sun Qian and Zhang Haiyu, in I Am Somebody. [Photo provided to China Daily]

The show has not only invited several veteran insiders to comment on contestants' performances, illuminate the script, and guide actors and technical crew to fulfill their vision, but also gathered established practitioners to grade and rank the 40 actors and actresses. These grades have different criteria, according to their popularity, exposure in the media, acting skills and other factors that represent their "market value". The participants are then divided into three classes.

The initial grades were given by experienced producers, such as Lyu Jianming, producer of the blockbuster Wolf Warriors, and Wu Yi, president of the Tianyi Media group behind many military dramas. However, the actors and actresses will regularly be mentored by director Chen Kaige, Hong Kong actor-director Yee Tung-shing, actress-filmmaker Zhao Wei and writer-turned-director Guo Jingming.

The top contestants have priority to choose the character they want to portray in a short play adapted from a hit movie or TV drama. Consequently, those in the bottom class are more likely to lose the chance to act in their favorite roles. Depending on their performances throughout the series, contestants can find themselves being promoted to a higher class. Equally, they can also be relegated to even lower in the pecking order.

"The show epitomizes the current situation of the film industry in a real, cruel way," says Guo.

"It's also a good opportunity for them to know their place in the ranking, and to improve themselves as, on this stage, they get suggestions from, and cooperate with, well-established and experienced directors."

Chen points out that in today's market, many film practitioners tend to churn out mediocre movies, due to tight budgets and schedule constraints, and fail to bring out the artistic value of the work in the production process. Thus, actors lack a favorable atmosphere to hone their skills that enable them to better play a role.

He believes directors should exert themselves more to guide the performers.

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