At the Third Australia-China Film Industry Forum in Shanghai, a landmark co-production agreement was signed between Shandong Film and TV Media Group, a state owned film and television powerhouse in the Shandong province of China, and AMPCO Films, a South Australian film production company that in 2010 made the first film co-production under the treaty between the Australian and Chinese governments.
Chairman of AMPCO Films, Mr Geoff Rischbieth and Chairman of Shandong Film and TV Media Group Mr Wang Hanping were the signatories.
The binding agreement in order to commence work on the new production, was witnessed by Ms Alice Cawte, the Australian Consul General to China, Mr Wang Fengling, Secretary General of the China Film Producers’ Association, and Ms Ruth Harley, CEO Screen Australia.
The first production to be made under this agreement will be GOLD ROAD, set during the Australian gold rush of the 1850's. It is the adventure story of a troupe of Chinese acrobats who make their way on foot through the Australian bush from South Australia to the Victorian goldfields. It was a period of time that established Australia and its relationship with China and has significant relevance to the modern era.
The film has a budget of US$15m and is planned to begin shooting in the second quarter of 2014.
The Producers will be Mr Niu Yansheng and Mr Mario Andreacchio.
The GOLD ROAD production will also be used as the basis for the building of a "Virtual Studio" structure between Shandong and AMPCO, which not only will streamline future production, but extend to financing, distribution, research, education and training.
Mario says "We have been offered a lot of China co-productions over the last few years since making The Dragon Pearl. However, we wanted to deeply analyze our experience and construct the detailed basis for a longer term plan. It is not just about finding the finance to make your next movie, but what is that movie building into the future, what vision is it part of? We have joined with Shandong Film & TV Media Group to establish what we believe to be a well thought out and long term sustainable business initiative."
Mr Niu says "Many westerners come to China as if it is some sort of "gold rush". Many fail because real success comes from long term planning. The GOLD ROAD movie is an important and great adventure story, but it is also the foundation stone upon which a greater plan will be built. The relationship and system that we are building with AMPCO Films we hope will also be used by many other productions, Australian or international, wishing to work with China without having to learn the process each time".
South Australia and Shandong Province share cultural and economic ties through their "sister-state" relationship. The GOLD ROAD project and longer term initiative has been supported by the South Australian Government and Shandong Provincial Government.
Mr Geoff Rischbieth says “We always knew that to properly set ourselves up in China, it was going to take a while. It has taken longer than expected, and we've certainly learnt a lot. With Shandong Film & TV Media Group we feel very excited about our collaboration and the prospects for the future."
Mr Wang Hanping says "I have been in the media business for over 40 years. I am very proud of Shandong Film and TV Media Group and especially excited at the beginning of new major international relationship with AMPCO Films".
The Third Australia China Film Industry Forum is an initiative of the Australian Embassy in Beijing, and is supported by Screen Australia, AusFilm, Screen Producer's Association and the Australia-China Screen Industry Alliance.