Journey to China Pt.1 Guangzhou

Journey to China Pt.1 Guangzhou

It’s 2015 and I’ve decided that one of my new year’s resolutions shall be to pick up blogging again!

So to start things off with a bang, I’ll begin with a multipart recollection of my recent journey back to China (the reason for splitting it into parts will become clear soon enough).


The Planning

I had already been planning a trip to China for sometime – mainly to visit creatives, studios, and industry contacts to explore the potential for creative collaborations. In late 2014, I was invited by NZFC (New Zealand Film Commission) to join the inaugural Screen Delegation to China. Since I’ve been spending most of my time this year working as a producer on a Sino-NZ co-production feature film, this was the perfect opportunity to for me to further my connections and understanding of China’s screen sector.

Thus, I decided to combine the two plans and spend a full month in China – 1 week as part of the delegation, and 3 on my own.



First stop – Guangzhou!

I arrived 2 days in advance and was immediately greeted by one thing I had not anticipated – the HEAT.

Due to the fact that Summer was just beginning for us here in New Zealand, I had stupidly assumed that it was going to be super cold all the time in China. WRONG.

As soon as I stepped outside the plane I was greeted with 30 degrees (Celsius!) of Guangzhou-doesn’t-give-a-f*-what-time-of-year-it-is weather.  Since I only packed a single t-shirt (aka the one I was wearing when I left NZ), I was in serious trouble.  Thankfully, after some emergency clothes shopping the next day, it turned out okay.


Not pictured: me sweating like a pig.

I arrived quite late so I ended the evening with a stroll around the area. I ended up coming across a 24-hour Yumcha joint and ordered my first but not certainly not the last serving of egg tarts during the trip:

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Certainly not the first food photo either…

On the third day, I moved from my shabby lodgings to the fancy China Hotel (yes that’s literally what it’s called):

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Actually the full name is “China Hotel, A Marriott Hotel”.  I’m not sure that’s exactly an improvement…


At least the rooms were nice…


As were the mirror designs in the elevator…


…although I really can’t say the same for their Christmas decorations…did someone just recycle pumpkins left over from Halloween decorations?

After that it was the beginning of the crazy whirlwind trip that was the inaugural NZ-China Screen Delegation – it was meetings galore!  We began by visiting Pearl River Film Group, who generously gifted us all with HUGE books + dvd catalogue of films across their  prestigious 60 years of film making history.  Unfortunately, there was no way we could carry all that with us around China, so it was promptly shipped back to NZ once we got back to the hotel.

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Stuck in an awkward situation – my Chinese name was written incorrectly and Allan wasn’t used as my English name either…

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Pictured above: what 80% of our delegation trip looked like – in China, even meetings have way more people!

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First of many specially commissioned Tuatara’s given out during the trip by Dave Gibson (head of NZFC).

After Pearl River Film Group, we then traveled to visit the Guangzhou International Documentary Film Festival organisers at the Guangzhou Library.  For New Zealanders it may sound a little weird to have a formal meeting of this level at a library, but this was nothing like the libraries we’re used to.  This amazing facility covers 100 thousand square meters, holds a collection of some 4 million books and is currently the largest city library in the world:


Even with panoramic mode on I couldn’t manage to get a full shot of the building – it was just ridiculously huge. 


Yes, this is a library, folks.

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I really loved the architecture of this building…


Group photo of the Delegation. Photo courtesy of NZFC.

After this we traveled to visit Alpha Animation Studios, the current creators behind Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf, the overwhelming in popularity but questionable in quality Chinese animation mega-franchise.

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The studio sure was colourful! Photo courtesy of NZFC.


Felt like I stepped in bizzaro world for a minute as Alpha also had two other hit shows which are very “inspired” by Sailor Moon and Ultraman/ Power Rangers respectively. Photo courtesy of NZFC.

Final meeting of the day was with Zhongkai Public Communication Co, Ltd.  At this point it became quite clear to everyone that we all realistically only had around 5 minutes for exchange of business cards and one-liner intros after each meeting was were over.  Since it was the first ever NZ screen delegation to China, most of the meetings were an exchange of very basic but fundamental information.  It’s unfortunate that 5 years after the signing of the co-production treaty and years of Sino-NZ cultural/ business exchange that we’re still stuck at this point.

However, I really felt that the delegation was a good step forward in the right direction.  Every journey’s got to start with the first step right?


Photo courtesy of NZFC.

After it was all over, we quickly rushed to Canton Club for our evening networking function.  This was great as it meant we finally had a chance to engage in more in-depth conversations.


Thanks Silver Fern Farms for sponsoring authentic NZ steak! Photo courtesy of NZFC.

Unfortunately, it turns out I managed to catch the flu right before I left for China (ironic I know, consider NZ was in full summer mode).  By this point I was popping mints and throat drops constantly just to keep my voice going – but it was totally worth it!

…aaand that’s it for Guangzhou, join me in part 2 as we get up at 5am to catch a flight to the delegation’s next destination: Shanghai.


During the meeting to meeting travel I did managed to snap this shot of the Guangzhou Tower.  It wasn’t until later that I found out it’s actually close to twice the height of Sky Tower in Auckland!

This was one of the most memorable aspects for me from the trip – the average building in China is just so tall, that my sense of spacial perception became really warped after a while.  It’s not my first time seeing tall buildings in China, but for some reason I was much more subconsciously aware of the fact that I could never really see the horizon line while in the cities!

Yes, a 600 metre tower like THIS actually felt normal: