The Rise of Celebrities Turned Producers
In recent years, celebrities turned producers have become the new trend within the entertainment industry. Examples include Andy Lau (刘德华), Yang Mi (杨幂), Zhang Ziyi (章子怡), Ruby Lin (林心如), Peter Ho (何润东), Huang Xiaoming (黄晓明), Hawick Lau (刘恺威), Kevin Cheng (鄭嘉穎), Michelle Ye (葉璇), Cecilia Cheung (張柏芝), Ren Quan (任泉), and Wang Han (汪涵). So what exactly is the driving force behind this career change, and what are the gains and losses?
Not An Easy Task
Put simply, a producer is a film’s investor, or someone who is able to pull in investors. They play a key role in the film’s production, with responsibilities such as picking out the cast and script. With so much work on their hands, it is definitely not an easy job. First of all, a good script is difficult to achieve. Taking Zhang Ziyi for example, she flew to the United States several times just to hunt for a good Hollywood producer to edit the script.
Secondly, picking the cast is arduous. First-time producer, Yang Mi, now owes many debts of gratitude after selecting the cast for Micro Times <微时代之恋>. Besides offering roles to artists she is familiar working with, she also auditioned 8 newcomers. A lot of effort was spent on making telephone calls and waiting outside film academies.
The greatest problem of all for a producer is raising enough funds. Ren Quan recalled his first investment in filming, when he had suffered partner dropouts. He had to invest 15 million RMB by himself in the end, putting his house on mortgage. Andy Lau experienced a similar situation, in which he invested in six films but lost money on five.
In addition, spending the money in the most useful way in order to control the budget while producing an appealing work is tough. Peter Ho exclaimed, “Right now, when I see an unfinished lunchbox on set, my heart would churn in pain.” Similar to what Peter feels, Zhang Ziyi hovered over the expensive camcorder while the cast of Very Perfect <非常完美> opened champagne bottles to celebrate the end of filming. She was afraid that the liquid would spill and damage it.
Why Change Careers?
Although being a producer is such a tedious task, many celebrities are willing to make the choice, because aside from the financial promises, they also receive good dibs in other aspects.
Ruby expressed that the opportunities of an actress is not long-lasting. Many actors depend on their youth to make money, but what happens after they lose their youth? Turning to a behind-the-scenes career is seen as a better long-term decision.
Becoming a producer also allows artists immediate control over their artistic works. They can change the script, organize the crew and cast, and add scenes whenever they want. Peter Ho remarked, “Being an actor is rather passive. Many times they can only wait for the right script and role. On the other hand, producers have a lot of room for development.”
Fake Producers as a Marketing Gimmick
Not all the celebrities turned producers actually do their job. Some are just being called a producer as a marketing gimmick, when in reality, a film company is behind the operations. This is the reason why many celebrity turned producers say that it is inconvenient for them to reveal too much about the production plans, because they do not know anything about them.
Having a celebrity as the producer is bound to reduce the company’s production costs, since their salary also accounts for their “producer” position. The company pays less, while the artist earns more than being an actor. This mutually benefits both sides.
Furthermore, it is easier to attract investors if a celebrity is known to have produced the film. There is also an increased chance of recognition, and the productions can be sold for higher prices. Most of all, the support from fans is a valuable advantage which other producers do not have.
This article is written by Shirley for JayneStars.com.