Into the unknown

By Raymond Zhou ( China Daily ) Updated: 2013-10-30 07:35:18

Into the unknown

Daniel Wu stars in the 90-second Cadillac commercial Touch and Go, considered the very first microfilm in China. Photos Provided to China Daily

Into the unknown

Microfilms will be coming shortly to a screen near you

In a report conducted by the China Film Education and Information Research Center and released at a forum in Wuhan late September, a 90-second Cadillac commercial, starring Hong Kong heartthrob Daniel Wu, is considered the very first microfilm, at least in China. Titled Touch and Go, it was co-produced by Cadillac and China Film Group. Not only was it extravagantly budgeted, but it was preceded by Dayyan Eng's Bus 44, an 11-minute short that got several minor international awards in 2002 and Hu Ge's The Bloody Case That Started from a Steamed Bun, a 20-minute spoof of Chen Kaige's epic film The Promise, which, in terms of cultural influence, is not rivaled by anything done prior to or since its 2005 debut.

The number of microfilms produced each year, as one may surmise, varies wildly according to the definition of what is a proper microfilm. On one end of the spectrum, any video clip that is not feature-length may qualify, which pushes the total number to an astronomical size. A random individual may shoot a dozen such clips with his cellphone camera in one session, which may or may not contain elements of interest beyond himself and his immediate circle and may be shared on certain online social networks.

A CNNIC (China Internet Network Information Center) report released in June 2013, reveals that 65.9 percent of China's 372 million Internet users are users of online video content. Of these, 96 percent depend on computers, with the ratio of mobile users at 49.4 percent and rising. However, those who produce online video account for only 14.2 percent of the online population and those who shoot and edit is even lower, at 8.2 percent. But that still translates to some 30 million people.

On the other end, the above-mentioned report narrows the definition down to a movie with a complete story, fit for new media platforms and made by professionals. "It should be 30 seconds to 50 minutes in length, 1-7 days in production cycle, thousands or hundreds of thousands of yuan in production cost and with a team of 5 to 10 people." Again, other than the viewing platform, it covers so wide a gamut it can easily absorb most television episodes.


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