The Notice Board at the first floor of Piao Home Inn was coverer with recruitment posters of various different kinds of internet big films.
For a while, an intriguing name, an eye-catching poster, a story related to some popular IPs and a free-to-watch-for-first-six-minutes-but-pay-to-watch-for-more model used to be jokingly referred to as the “four secrets” of a successful internet big films. These secrets prove to be true, at least judged from these posters.
The inn is known as the biggest pre-production spot of internet big films in China. Stories like an investor invested merely several thousand yuan, had a screenwriter write a play within a week, recruited actors and got prepared within six days, shot all the scenes within five days, and made a huge fortune, are widely spread here. Nobody won’t dream of making a fortune himself/herself.
Young and aspiring people who dream of becoming famous actors/actresses would go door to door and try to submit their resumes.
Piao Home Inn is a mid-low end chain hotel quite inconspicuous even in a busy street.
According to an insider, this place is filled with piracy and speculation, and those who really want to make some great films no longer recruit actors/actresses here. However, people who still frequent the inn don’t think so. “People enjoy feeling fairness, and this inn is popular because it caters to people’s need to the most,” a young actor still looking for opportunities here told TMTpost.
In TMTpost Photo Gallery 038, we'd like to help you have a glimpse of the Chinese internet big film industry through the story of a small hotel in Beijing.
[Click here to watch the video]
A girl went through the aisle looking for crews that were still looking for actors/actresses. All the crews would stick a poster to their doors, so that people who came looking for opportunities could knock at the doors and submit their resumes.
Director Mr. Yue Hao was getting prepared to shoot an internet big film adapted from Tale of the White Snake. Till the end of August, he had already stayed in Piao Home Inn for a month. “I worked in this industry for nearly two decades. In recent years, many of my friends began to make internet big films. So I decided to give it a try myself,” Mr. Yue was looking for the leading and the supporting actors and actresses, “I’ve received a couple hundred resumes and already interviewed scores of applicants. Up will now, I only find a couple of candidates who meet the requirement”.
An actor knocked at the door and tried to submit his resume. However, Mr. Yue told him that he’d already submitted his resume before. He hesitated and took out a notebook filled with notes. He went through his notes, tried to find out if he’d really submitted his resume but failed. “Yes, indeed, my memory came back. I must have taken the note on another notebook.” He’s been an actor for six years off and on. Every week, he would come to the inn and submitted his resumes door to door.
Besides internet big films, other crews would also get prepared in Piao Home Inn. The above picture is the preparation room of the crew for the film called The Patriot League. The wall was covered with photos of some candidates for the film.
“Half of the people who frequent Piao Home Inn are from agent companies who submitted lots of resumes at the same time,” a deputy director and actor told TMTpost, “minor celebrities would also come to the inn looking for opportunities themselves, because their agent companies don’t want them to get involved in internet big films, believing that these types of films are lowbrow.”
Chen Lei is a deputy director who’s focused primarily on internet big films. Up till now, he’d already shot several such films and recruited crew members for films for over thirty times. At the end of August, he started preparing for a film called “Farewell, My Dream” and had received over one hundred resumes. “This is a gathering place for internet big films. I chose to come here because there were more actors/actresses for me choose,” Mr. Chen explained, “From my experience, the return-cost rate is very high for internet big films with proper quality. The screenplay for the film I am working, written by the investor himself, shared his experience in the industry. There aren’t lots of scenes, so I can finish shooting the film within a week, I guess.”
For some people, Piao Home Inn is just a temporary office place. Some people would even live here for convenience sake. “Preparation time for internet big films is generally short. Soon, we will find our actors and actresses and start shooting the film,” a deputy director and actor told TMTpost.
It has been two years since Li luqi came to Beijing. He learnt stage plays for a short while, and played bit roles for most time. “I love acting, but those who are handsome, beautiful or who graduated from professional schools often get more chances. I, however, have little choices.” As an actor, he thought it unnecessary to think too much. “Everybody who waits at the gate of Beijing Film Studio dreams of becoming as famous as Wang Baoqiang. I once heard that someone even went crazy after getting no role to play for a long while. So many people want to become famous in China, but not everyone could become one. Why not just go step by step, play some bit roles first. At least you are doing something you love,” he told TMTpost.
Besides doing some part time job and giving out leaflets sometimes, Li Luqi would spend 80% of his efforts looking for opportunities to act. “I never miss any opportunity to act, even if to play bit roles. Also, I would sit in the audience row in entertainment shows to earn around half a hundred yuan each time,” he said, “After all, I have to feed myself before achieving my dream.”
It was August, 29th, 2016. The crew of an internet big film was holding an audition at Piao Home Inn. Interviewees who were waiting for the audition were trying to memorize the lines.
This was the second time Yin Zhiqiang came to Piao Home Inn. He used to learn music and acting in professional schools, and work as a music teacher and agent for a while. Through the recommendation by his friends, he would often get the opportunity to act at present. “To be honest, everybody in the circle wants to become famous. For me, I want to become famous not because I enjoy fame and reputation, but because I can get better roles then,” Mr. Yin told TMTpost. According to him, every actor/actress has a role he or she dreams to play, and everybody wants to play roles they like, because we can express ourselves through these roles.
Director Fan Chengxi (the first person from the left) and his special effect designer were negotiating about the special effect of the film Space Salvation. Mr. Fan learned film directing from this tutor for six years and used to work in Piao Home Inn for a while. Since 2016, he started to direct films himself and had finished shooting his first film, titled Space Salvation. Mr. Fan had expected to make a film targeting audience in second and third-tier cities, but later gave up the thought, believing that he'd rather be a big fish in a small pond than vice versa. At last, he decided to make an internet big film and was very satisfied with it. “As a green director, many experienced directors have given me lots of help. I wouldn’t have finished shooting this film without their help,” he said.
No matter how many crews come and go, Piao Home Inn remains intact. Although some people believe that the place was filled with piracy and speculation, there are still people who dream about finding an opportunity and becoming famous. “ In China, it’s important that people believe that the competition is fair. Piao Home Inn is popular exactly because it gives everybody who comes here an opportunity,” a young people explained to TMTpost.
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Translated by Levin Feng (Senior Translator at PAGE TO PAGE), working for TMTpost.