China (mainland), INTERVIEWS — 10/27/2011 7:01 PM

Patrick Carr (Mandarin Film): “the documentary world here in China is full of life and growing fast”

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UK born Patrick Carr is based in Beijing. The founder of Mandarin Film shares with us his working experience and reveales his new documentary projects.

Can you introduce yourself

I studied Mandarin Chinese at Oxford University before moving out to China, doing an MA in photojournalism in Dalian and ending up in television and documentary work. I also attended film school at the Hong Kong Film Academy in 2005. Since 10 years, I have been active in making films, documentaries, TV commercials and educational shows in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. I live in beijing and I am fluent in English, Chinese (Mandarin) and French.  

Why and how did you get involved in documentary industry ?

I trained as a photo-journalist, but quickly found myself gravitating towards video, the storytelling possibilities just seemed so much wider!  I got a break working as a local production assistant on BBC’s China School series, spending a year off and on living in a remote chinese town, before setting up my own production company in China.

Can you introduce your company ? 

Mandarin Film is a small but growing company with over six years and one hundred projects under our belt. the company is registered in Hong Kong but we are based in Beijing

We have 5 full-time staff, plus a pool of competent, bi-lingual freelancers. We offer production services as well as develop documentaries and television content of our own. 

We are particularly proud of two projects we recently had:

. In 2008, we were the production company in Beijing and Hong Kong for “How Much does your building weigh Mr Foster?” an award winning feature doc on Norman Foster.

. We have just completed a National Geographic project, which was produced in-house from start to finish, called “Green China Rising”.

What do you think about the evolution and development of documentary industry during the recent 5 or 10 years in China?

It’s been growing fast and quality is definitely improving.  The arrival of satellite television for China’s middle class is raising the bar. The fact that CCTV and other Chinese producers/broadcasters are getting into international co-productions is improving things and offering opportunities to foreign production companies with know-how.

Is the situation of documentary production getting better with the creation of documentary channels in China?

For sure. It creates new opportunities for local and international doc makers.

Did you already do international cooperation for some of your docs?

We recently produced “Green China Rising“, an international co-production between CICC (A Chinese production company), Lodge 9 (a private investor concerned about the environment) and National Geographic Asia. The show, a one hour look at green technology in China with the tagline “how the world’s biggest polluter could become its greatest savior”, will be launched late 2011, and is being represented by NGTI internationally. Its a multidimensional project, one concept multiple products as we call it, composed of a 52 minutes HD doc, a dvd for educational release and maybe a longer feature doc.

You have worked on doc projects with BBC, Current TV. Have you ever worked with Chinese or asian  broadcasters ?

I have worked with the BBC, National Geographic, Discovery and Current TV, but also CCTV and other Chinese producers.  The working styles are all very different, and bring new challenges – I would say as a general rule Chinese broadcasters have more layers of management, which can mean decisions take longer, and they tend to be more conservative, for obvious reasons!   On the other hand, the documentary world here in China is full of life and growing fast, which gives the feeling that there is always a new opportunity just around the corner.

What are you current doc projects ? Are you looking for European / international partners? 

Completed: “Green China Rising” 45’/52’ documentary for National Geographic about green tech in China with the tagline ‘How the world’s biggest polluter could become its greatest savior’. We are looking for international buyers. (EADn Project Database)

In Production: ”Legend of Panda” 2 x 52’ 3D animated documentary series on the evolution of the panda in the style of ‘Walking with Dinosaurs’. Looking for funding for international reversion. (EADn Project Database)

- In Pre-Production: “Star Wars” 52’ documentary about the race between China and the US to build ever faster super computers and gain an edge in such diverse fields as the ultimate diaper, a cure for cancer, movie animation, and building an ignition facility that literally creates a star on earth. Looking for funding. (EADn Project Database)

Have you recently watched a European doc you really appreciate ?

I recently loved “Senna and Pina” and i like to watch any documentary with a one name title :-)

Company website

Mandarin Film contact

Mandarin Film last doc projects

. January 2010 – Present – “Green China Rising” – Producer/Director                                            

USD 300k+ 3 x 1 hour series currently in pre production on the greening of China, and its implications for the world. See site           

. January 2010 – Present – INBAR – Director

Directing a 30 minute documentary on bamboo in China – for broadcast on national TV station CCTV10

. September 2010 – Discovery – China Producer/Director

China segment of a one hour show for Discovery’s Animal Planet series on the Tibetan Mastiff. Aired in the US in December 2010.

. October 2008 – “The Gift” - Documentary – Director, Cinematographer, Editor
“The Gift” 30 minute documentary on art photographer Giorgia Fiorio to be shown alongside her exhibitions in Paris, Rome and Berlin

. June 2008 – “Ten Days with Foster” Feature Length Documentary – China Producer, Director
Beijing and Hong Kong parts of US$500k feature length documentary ‘Ten days with Foster’

. March 2008 – Current TV – Producer, Director, Cameraman, Editor
‘China’s New Youth’ and ‘Burberry in China’ Documentaries for Current TV Shenzhen, Shanghai and Beijing, China

. June 2007 – Feb. 08 – BBC China School – Local Producer and Fixer
Five one hour episodes of ‘China School’ (BBC Documentary) Anhui and Beijing, China

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