The Chinese film industry is struggling to get back on its feet following the impacts of the coronavirus outbreak. Credit: Courtesy, Arriflex Cameras.

Epidemics come and go.

They are deadly, and they are brutal … and we fear them.

But some things last forever, good things, things we cherish and love. Things like cinema, which will never die.

According to a report in China Daily, film and TV studios across the country have bravely restarted production — virus, or no virus.

While enterprises in Hubei province, the source of the outbreak, are expected to return to work in a while, many people in other provinces have already resumed work, the report said.

Hengdian World Studios, the country’s largest film and TV drama shooting base, located in East China’s Zhejiang province, has issued a guideline to allow crews to “safely and orderly” return to their sets under strict checking procedures from Thursday.

At least 20 film, TV drama and online series crews and around 5,000 extras were working before the closure, according to Aicaijing, a new media brand affiliated to the industrial magazine Economic Weekly.

Hashtags about Hengdian’s reopening have garnered 250 million views on Sina Weibo, one of China’s most popular social media platforms. But some netizens say they are worried it’s still too early and risky to re-launch production.

Film producer Guo Jing, whose most popular work was the Berlin International Film Festival’s Silver Bear-winning Crosscurrent, says a big-budget film or TV drama crew may suffer a large financial hit during a shooting halt, the report said.

“It’s usually very expensive to rent sound stages and advanced shooting facilities. Besides, producers may still have to pay the actors as well as other crew members, such as those working on costumes, makeup or in fine art departments, while they are being isolated in hotels,” Guo explains.

Keeping the creative team of Crosscurrent, Guo is working on shooting a feature-length film and an online series adapted from Hugo Award-winning writer Hao Jingfang’s sci-fi novel The Last Brave Man, the report said.

Not gathering on set does not mean work is not being done.

Miao Yue, an established director best known for the Hundred Flowers Award-winning Hold Your Hands, also stayed at home during the Spring Festival holiday, the report said.

Her latest directorial effort, Xiumei Rensheng (The Beautiful Life), began preparation work in early December, the report said. It was halted when the outbreak occurred in late January.

“I had been in Wuhan (the epicenter of the outbreak in Hubei province) for three months to shoot my film Taste of Home in 2014. It’s a dynamic and beautiful city,” recalls Miao.

“So when I was watching the deserted and empty streets, as well as the suffering patients on TV news, I was so sad and couldn’t hold back my tears,” says the director.

Xiumei Rensheng is based on the true story of Huang Wenxiu, a village Party secretary in Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region who was devoted to help locals fight poverty, the report said. She died in a flash mountain flood on June 17, 2019, at age 30.

Now, leading a team of 15 major creators, Miao reveals she has just returned to the outskirts of the village that Huang worked in to investigate locations that might be fit for outdoor photography, the report said.

“We have brought enough facial masks and medical alcohol. All the places that we plan to visit are rivers, roads and fields. Our top working rule is not to be in contact with any villagers to ensure everyone’s safety,” says Miao.

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