"As a lead producer, you must keep a good balance between the business side and the film's
Bohan Gong is a film producer based in Hollywood. His academic background and film producing experience created an extraordinary successful film producer. Bohan Gong earned BFA degree in majored in Film and TV Production from Beijing Film Academy and Movie Production MFA degree in University of Miami. Bohan has a strong understanding of the international film industry and the movies he makes are distributed worldwide. His knowledge of the many different international businesses and production practices make him a uniquely talented young producer, who has had major success for someone who is relatively new to the industry. Financiers that invest with him have done it time and again because he represents their business interests first and foremost.
With the Chinese film industry growing rapidly, more and more Chinese capital are investing in Hollywood and are becoming an important part in Hollywood film’s capital structure. Nowadays, there are more and more co-productions between Chinese studios and American studios. Bohan Gong’s understanding of the international marketplace dovetails with his ability to deliver for American studios, and he gained the confidence and trust of “the majors” in both the projects that he brings to them. The quality of his work is reflected both on screen and in the box office receipts. Most of all, he is a singular talent who can build a bridge between American and Chinese film industry which will undoubtedly help the U.S. film industry promote itself to a new level in the international marketplace.
Bohan’s films were widely successful and received many film awards in all over the world. He has been involved in the creation of Hacksaw Ridge, American Made, The King’s Daughter, Birth of the Dragon, So Young, Hot-Blooded Youth, A Tip of Bottlebegr, to name a few. Los Angeles Kidnapping recently won the Los Angeles Film Awards, and we’re glad to interview Bohan, the producer who made it all happen.
"Los Angeles Kidnapping", the acclaimed action feature you produced is a wonderful film and very well produced. It received many positive reviews and most recently won the Honorable Mention for a Narrative Feature at LAFA. Congratulations for that! It's a very difficult task to produce a feature like that, and we think you should be very proud to have successfully done so! What was the most challenging part of the production, why and how did you overcome it as the lead producer?
First of all, thank you, LAFA, for awarding Los Angeles Kidnapping with such great honors - they belong to the cast, crew and all investors in this movie project. Los Angeles Kidnapping is a co-production film between China and the United States. This movie’s director and leading actors are Chinese, where they made many successful films before, but are not known to the American film audiences. The movie is in English, and over 70% of the crew members are American. The most challenging part of the production was bridging the differences between the Chinese way of handling a production, and American way of producing a film, from small aspects such as the different script format, different working hours (12 hours is the limit here, but in China you can have crew and cast work up to 16 hours a day). Additionally, different forms and softwares (Like Call Sheet, Shooting List, Cash Flow Management, Shooting Schedule, Movie Magic), different ways of setting up lights, the way to shoot, working habits and culture confliction, etc. For example, an American production pursues keeping everything organized, follows the sequence and roles. It follows the standard for making a high-quality film in schedule and budget. A Chinese production pursues using less time and budget to create the best value - this can save lots of time and money to achieve the same thing. Sometime this way makes a complicated thing much more simple, but there’s more potential risk and unpredictability. My expertise is that I am able to put the advantages from each method (the American and the Chinese) together.
"Birth of the Dragon" Releasing Event
As the lead producer, if you want to make it happened, you are not only required to have a professional ability and rich experience, but also good personality charm and the ability to find balance and degree in different conflicts and situations
There were many things we did in order to overcome challenges, but I want to talk about one of the most important thing here. It is all about building communication - not just language, but a highly efficient, friendly, equal, relaxed communicative environment. For making sure the production quality and efficiency, we did more meeting and location scouting to discuss every detail, at the same time, I hired lots of crews who are not just bilingual or translators, but have rich production experience both in China and America, they can exactly know what director wants and how to come true by American production way and habits in American law.
Los Angeles Kidnapping - behind the scenes
Bohan, you recently secured a major collaboration with the previous investors you worked with (Los Angeles Kidnapping) and they decided to invest more in your next project, based on the previous film that turned out to be a huge success! How did you make this happen? What can you tell us about that?
Yes, after Los Angeles Kidnapping was commercially successful and won some awards, we have made a deal for my next three film projects. One of them is already in the pre-production stage, and the other two are starting on March 2018.
For investing a film project, there are lots of factors which investors need to consider. In China, the film industry market is very hot now, billions of capitals are flying in the sky, but the investors fear that they will land on a wrong project. They don’t know where they should to land and how to land. So, trust is one of the most important things, investors trust your ability, trust your personality, trust the projects which you are going to work on, and then they will consider investing your projects. Having worked on Hacksaw Ridge, American Made, The King’s Daughter, Birth of the Dragon, Los Angeles Kidnapping, and other world-renowned projects, I earned their trust and built a stronger relationship with them. They now have confidence in my abilities and good reasons to collaborate with me on my future film projects.
Producing "Los Angeles Kidnapping"
Tell us about your role as an associate producer of The King's Daugther, starring Pierce Brosnan, William Hurt and Benjamin Walker, and Birth of the Dragon, directed by George Nolfi. How did you come on board, and what was the experience like for you?
The King’s Daughter and Birth of the Dragon both are over $40 million budget film projects. In most part capital was from China, we collaborated with Hollywood distinguished talents and Hollywood notable movie stars, filmed in Europe, China and North America. I was hired on these great film projects based on my extensive Chinese, American and European film production experience and project’s capital structure.
That is a precious experience for me. As I have been mentioned in the first question, because of the big differences between Chinese and American film industry, there are also many challenges business-wise. After facing and overcoming a challenge, new difficulties and challenges appear. These wouldn’t appear in a pure Chinese film project or in a fully-American film project. At the end of the day, we were able to make these film projects happen, and more than that- make them successful. During the work on these projects, I could see that the Chinese film industry and the American film industry will form a strong and mature collaboration over the next ten years.
The King's Daughter
You work on many features films simultaneously, and it's pretty inspiring to see how you handle that bulk of work! Among your upcoming projects Gorgon Salad, Questions and Comments, Hot Blooded Youth to name a few. What do you think you bring to the table, that makes you a sought - after producer?
First of all, focusing on the film’s content. The film just is a carrier, through visual and auditory language deliver a story, a value, a feeling and an experience to audiences. Lots of filmmakers put too much of their attention on the profit, and lose an excelsior attitude. Specially, as a lead producer, you must clearly keep a good balance between the business side and the film's content, and ensure the quality in different project’s stages. I put lots of time and attention on developing and revising the script in every one of my film projects. Story is the soul of film. Business lets this soul appear in front of audiences as a form of visual and auditory.
On the other hand, it’s all about respect: respecting your story, respecting the characters, respecting audiences, respecting investors, respecting every filmmaker. Learning to say no, making sure you choose a good project and keep an excelsior attitude, enthusiasm and a spirit of adventure all the time. The audience and film market will recognize you and let you become a sought - after producer.
Graduating from University of Miami
As mentioned, you are active in China, Europe, and the United States. Would you agree that international barriers are not so much of an obstruction in the film-world? Do you believe going global is essential for any production?
I think the obstructions from international barriers are less and less than they used to be, and the film industry is going more and more global as the world gets closer. Specially when it comes to financing, production, post-production and international distribution.
But I don’t encourage any production should insist on “going global”, it really depends on the film’s content, target audience, target market, budget and your purpose. Even if, nowadays film globalization has obtained a huge developing, such as Chinese film market. There are still lots of international barriers between different countries, such as, different beliefs, values, languages, cultures, laws, film genres, tendency of audiences and film watching habits. For example, in China, audiences like subtitles, but American audience doesn’t have this watching habit. So, I would like to encourage the filmmakers focus on their film’s content first. Content is the most important part, if you don’t have a good content, you will loss public praise, it’s a very important element when you try to sell your film and receive success, no matter what country you are going to distribute in. However, keeping film globalization’s concept in your mind and integrating, using the global resource and advance technology reasonably, will help improving your film to obtain a better quality and gain a higher profit in the same budget and time.