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Micro movies facilitate free grass-roots expression

Updated: 2012-11-08 16:02

Tang Jie tossed and turned in bed, racking his brains to think about a storyline for a "micro movie" his team was about to shoot. The script, dialogues and scenes are always midnight topics of Tang and his roommates.

The 22-year-old student of Chongqing Technology and Business University has finished five "micro films" along with nine schoolmates over the past two years, simply relying on a digital camera and a voice recorder.

Among them, the 10-minute "Born in 1990s" , which highlights stories of love, friendship, and career frustration that young people are likely to face upon graduation, has received thousands of views after it went online in April.

"We are not sophisticated and the movie is imperfect," said Tang, the director. "We hope to show that we are the generation that share social responsibilities."

"Micro movies exhibit the power and creativity of grass-roots filmmakers. Everyone has the say in the sector," said Joanne Cheng, a Chinese-American director and professor.

"The era when the filmmaking was monopolized by a small group of people is over," said Chen Shan, professor with Beijing Film Academy. Technological evolution and elimination of film producing threshold allows the public to speak out more freely and they are no longer the passive receivers, he stressed.

Tang's team spent less than a month on producing a micro movie, including script writing, shooting and post-producing.

"We enjoy the process despite setbacks. It is great that our efforts are noticed by viewers," said Tang.

The Internet-based films, shot within a short period of time and last no longer than 30 minutes, are completed on a small budget. They are distributed to video-sharing websites and spread among users of smart phones and tablet computers, which can generate real-time feedback online.

Micro film evolved from home-made humor shorts on video-sharing websites like Youku. It caught the public's attention with the release of Old Boys, among others, in early 2010.

The genre has gained ground over the past two years due to being perfectly suited to new media platforms and smart devices. They are also easily shared across social networks and booming microblogs, which are considered the symbol of a prosperous "micro era" in China.

Statistics from China Internet Network Information Center showed that the number of Internet users has hit 550 million nationwide as of September this year, meaning about 41.1 percent of the population access the Internet. In addition, 363 million people view films online and nearly 50 million Chinese watch videos via cell phones. About 280 million Chinese have microblog accounts.

Industry estimates have put the number of micro films produced in China last year at more than 2,000, compared to around 500 mainstream movies.

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