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Villagers aim to make splash on big screen

China Daily | Updated: 2024-02-26 10:23
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NANCHANG — In Hengfeng, a small county in East China's Jiangxi province, residents have a new way of greeting each other: "Have you applied for a film acting role?"

The county is the site of an ongoing movie production, and filmmakers are expecting to hire more than 400 extras to serve as background actors. Many villagers have been eager to apply for the role.

Local villager Ke Xiufa, 67, has already served as an extra three times on the production.

"I can earn 100 yuan ($14) plus three meals a day, excluding overtime pay," said Ke, adding that more than 40 villagers like him acted on the very first day when the movie started shooting.

The county's film and television program production base is located at a former coal mine site.

The mine, built in 1958, witnessed declining production and financial losses after its peak production period in the 1990s. With a deserted colliery, a 5-kilometer railway line for coal transportation, and its vacant offices and dormitories, the mine was designated as a provincial-level industrial heritage site last year.

Located at the east end of Jiangxi, Hengfeng is near Hengdian, a film and television program production center known as "China's Hollywood" in neighboring Zhejiang province. "Many tourism and film and TV production companies favored our beautiful environment and well-preserved industrial heritage, which strengthened our determination to build a base for a film and television program production here," said Pan Li, Party chief of the county.

Two years ago, a Zhejiang-based cultural company invested 200 million yuan to turn the former coal mine into three filming locations in three different historical settings, developing a comprehensive base for both film and TV production and tourism.

Gan Xiao'er, a director who is filming a movie there, said he was thrilled to learn that many kinds of old trains can be moved inside the base, achieving an ideal shooting effect. "The scenes of moving vintage trains are rare at other shooting venues in China. The breathtaking rural landscape is also perfect for filming movies," Gan said.

The base has also injected vitality into rural vitalization efforts, bringing additional income to locals.

Since November, the base has brought on five camera crew teams and has hired more than 3,000 extras from villages in the area, said Zhou Zhongliang, who is in charge of the base's operations.


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