Magic Dumpling Entertainment President & CEO Kevin Geiger and Head of Development Wen Feng delivered three full days of seminars at Toonmax Media Company, Ltd. on topics ranging from animation development, production, distribution, marketing and transmedia.
Tag Archives: Wen Feng
As reported by Jonathan Landreth in The Wall Street Journal…
The world’s second-largest economy has never produced its own version of Pokémon or Buzz Lightyear. Could the solution be a bean-curd-based riff on Pinocchio?
Cue “Tofu Boy,” a $5 million film slated for fall 2014 release, whose makers hope the character whets the world’s appetite for Chinese animation.
“We’re creating Chinese-themed content with international resonance,” says Kevin Geiger, a Walt Disney Animation veteran who now heads a Beijing-based start-up studio, Magic Dumpling Entertainment. “Tofu Boy” is “inspired by but not based on” the Pinocchio story, he says. “A good little boy who’s a bit mischievous is something every parent in the world can relate to.”
He and his partners, director Sun Lijun, scriptwriter Yan Yi and chief creative officer Feng Wen, began work on “Tofu Boy” in 2009 and now share digital sketches on their iPads with coffee-shop patrons, solicit plot feedback from neighborhood kids, and grill distributors who claim to know local moviegoers best.
“We’re trying to give Chinese audiences a sense of ownership,” Mr. Geiger says. “They’re so tired of period pieces, but people are reluctant to do something modern because it sometimes bumps up against the censors. It’s safer to do something set in the past. But Pixar tells movies about now. ‘Toy Story’ is set today.‘Wall-E’ is set in the future. Why can’t Chinese animation be the same? If we can create content that Chinese feel they own, but that also has an international-quality story and design, then it can do well overseas.”
First it must resonate with Chinese audiences. Mr. Sun, the head of the animation department at the Beijing Film Academy and director of the animated movie “Legend of a Rabbit,” helped play up Tofu Boy’s culturally Chinese aspects. “His notes always incorporate something traditional,” Mr. Yan says.
Tofu Boy comes to life in modern-day Shanghai, in a once-famous but now bedraggled shop where tofu maker Old Wang wonders aloud if having a son would change his life. As for his powers, the animators take advantage of his soy-based nature by giving him the ability to change shape and texture—Mr. Sun told the animators to make him “all consistencies,” Mr. Geiger says. He hardens to pound a nail and transforms into stinky tofu when upset.
There are also occasional nods to more Western sensibilities. One character, regarding Old Wang, says “There are born winners and born losers, and that’s an example of a born loser,” but is countered by another who says, “There’s not only fate and destiny, there’s hope.”
“Kung Fu Panda” was a hit in China because, Ms. Feng says, “in the end, it was about needing to find your own way—not a part of Chinese culture, but a philosophy young Chinese fantasize about.”
This mix of local and potentially global appeal is crucial to the success of “Tofu Boy” and other animation projects in development in China. The country is eager to promote its culture abroad. According to the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, China’s 2011 box-office revenue was up 29% from a year earlier, to 13.1 billion yuan ($2.1 billion) though U.S. Hollywood productions still draw the most moviegoers. Other animated series, such as “Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf,” are popular within China and other Asian markets but haven’t yet crossed over.
Magic Dumpling is hopeful but realistic. “Can we really draw more than 10 versions of a character and choose the best one?” Ms. Feng says. “Chinese artists are not used to even this simple process. We’re trying to build a good Chinese film step by step. We’re trying to take Chinese culture overseas. In reality, it will be a very slow process.”
Magic Dumpling Entertainment’s President Kevin Geiger and Head of Development Wen Feng discussed development & production of the 3D animated feature film, “Dr. Sun” as part of Beijing Radio774’s Xinhai Revolution anniversary week programming.
The interview aired October 6th on Beijing Radio AM 774’s “Talk Box” segment, and is available online in the 2011-10-06 Talk Box archive post at www.am774.com
“Dr. Sun” tells the story of Sun Yat-sen and his revolutionary colleagues’ successful struggles to overthrow the Qing Dynasty in 1911 and usher in a modern era for the Chinese people, highlighting the personal dramas within the epic events.
For more on “Dr. Sun” in Chinese, check out the article in the September 20th issue of Want Daily.
As reported in Variety, Magic Dumpling Entertainment has attached “Legend of a Rabbit” helmer Sun Lijun to direct the animated 3D film “Tofu Boy”, a Chinese-themed spin on the Pinocchio tale set in modern-day Shanghai.
Magic Dumpling is developing the project from a screenplay by writers Yi Yan & Wen Feng with producer Kevin Geiger, formerly of the Walt Disney Company.
“Tofu Boy” is planned for a holiday 2013 release.
Magic Dumpling Entertainment President Kevin Geiger and VP of Development Wen Feng spoke at the 2011 Anima Mundi Forum’s “Animation for Export” panel in Rio de Janeiro, which presented the experience of producers who have structured their studios towards sustainable business models from which to approach the international animation market.
“Animation for Export” was the second panel of the forum, held on Wednesday, July 20th at 3pm and chaired by Reynaldo Marchezini of Flamma Films.
Distinguished animation director and professor Becky Bristow shared insights gained over the course of a storied career on the international stage.
In the midst of all the activity, Magic Dumpling found time to hang with colleagues such as hometown hero, “Rio” director Carlos Saldanha.
Many thanks to Anima Mundi co-founders Aida Queiroz, Cesar Coelho, Lea Zagury & Marcos Magalhães for their generous invitation and gracious hospitality!
From Magic Dumpling Entertainment’s main development office in Beijing’s Central Business District, Magic Dumpling President & CEO Kevin Geiger chats candidly with Beijing Radio Corporation’s Radio 774 about his transition from CGI special effects to animation producing, his move from Hollywood to China, his team’s work at Magic Dumpling Entertainment, his high hopes for Chinese animation and his love of Beijing noodles.
Magic Dumpling Entertainment VP of Development Wen Feng received a special award from Beijing Film Academy Animation School Dean & “Legend of a Rabbit” Director Sun Lijun in honor of the accolades garnered by her BFA student team for their animated short film, “Hong” (aka “Chicken in a Tree”).
“Chicken in a Tree” tells the story of two young brothers who are left in the care of their grandmother and must fend for themselves among friends & bullies after their parents leave for work in another city.
The film has screened throughout China, as well as in Europe, Japan and other international territories – collecting awards and audience appreciation along the way.
Congratulations to Ms. Feng and her team of talented young artists!