(Shanghaidaily, Jul 05, 2013) TRANSFORMERS 4″ has high hopes for the China market and though it won’t be released until next June, the coproduction is using a CCTV reality show to cast four minor characters.
There’s a casting call for a “cute” girl, a sex goddess, a tech geek and an action hero.
It’s the first Hollywood film to use the wildly popular genre of Chinese TV talent/reality shows to cast Chinese actors, thus generating interest and marketing the film in China.
It takes marketing in China to a new level.
Casting Chinese actors in a coproduction is not new, but using a reality TV show is.
Using CCTV, a government-run channel, ensures the film will be shown as part of the annual quota of imported films.
So far, around 800 amateur and professional actors and actresses have applied on a Transformers talent-seeking website launched in April together with M1905.com, a movie portal hosted by CCTV Channel 6, known as the Movie Channel. The site is T4.M1905.com.
The film will also star Li Bingbing and shoot some scenes in iconic locations in China.
Adding new blood
In China, online and TV talent searches are a popular way for films and TV series to recruit new actors. They add new blood to the productions and generate public interest and viewers.
“In general, talent searches are meant for marketing purposes and there aren’t too many successful cases that found the exact right people for the roles,” says Qu Jun, publicity director at Shanghai Youhug Media.
It remains to be seen if the “Transformers” recruitment will be different.
“A young audience is replacing the older generation, and they like to see their stories on the screen, so they can easily accept such talent searches,” Qu tells Shanghai Daily.
He cautions, however, that acting requires skills and experience and that in talent searches “it’s easy to find pretty faces but hard to find ones who can really act.”
Few major roles are cast through online and TV talent competitions.
The recruiting website is filled with headlines about “fiery lips” and photos of women in bikinis, some of them topless with their back to the camera – they smile over their shoulder.
It’s not surprising that many young men are shirtless.
The initial online selection runs through July 15 when the public casts their votes. Contestants upload their photos and a video clip under five minutes in which they introduce themselves in both Chinese and English and explain why they want to play the character.
On July 15, the top 25 contestants for each of the four roles will be announced. Decisions by judges take votes into consideration.
Then the 100 aspiring actors will take part in training and evaluation in further rounds on CCTV 6. Last rounds will be televised.
Dates have not been announced.
The reality show jury panel includes big names: Sid Ganis, the former head of Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences; “Transformers” casting director Denise Chamian; Paramount’s president of marketing and distribution Megan Colligan; producer of “Transformers 4″ Lorenzo DiBonaventura; CCTV 6 deputy director Jia Qi, and vice president of portal M1905 Liang Longfei.
In a video message by Ganis posted on M1905, he said, “This (casting) will give actors and would-be actors and actresses the opportunity to appear in a major motion picture.
“It will also give the rest of the world yet another glimpse of Chinese people and Chinese culture and China itself.”
Ganis is now the chairman of Jiaflix Enterprises, a Chinese-American joint venture established last year to stream both Chinese and international feature films in China.
Not much is known about director Michael Bay’s latest effort in the “Transformers” franchise, with Steven Spielberg as executive producer. Photos of extraordinary vehicles are trickling out.
As for the plot, the Autobot battle to save the human race continues four years after the battle of Chicago.