Mario Andreacchio, the producer of the first official Australia-China co-production The Dragon Pearl, says he is involved in the development of $60m worth of features with China and is expecting cameras to roll on two projects before the end of the year.
Under his AMPCO Films banner he is the producer on The Pulse, a comedy adventure superhero film to be directed by Simon Williams and Brendon Skinner.
Beijing Tian Jiao Film & TV is the Chinese partner on The Pulse, having got on board last year after it won a pitching competition for emerging filmmakers, held in Beijing by the Motion Picture Association (Asia Pacific) and the China International Copyright Expo.
Andreacchio is simultaneously mentoring Williams and Skinner and says China is so different that it makes sense to cultivate young filmmakers who have a more flexible attitude to the way things can be done.
The second film, on which he is executive producer, is One Night of Madness, a contemporary love story set on an oilrig off the coast of Western Australia, to be directed by Carmelo Musca, who in late 2010 directed Deep Sleep No More in Beijing.
Prior to taking part in the second Australia-China Film Industry Forum, held as part of the Beijing International Film Festival last month, Andreacchio invited a number of Australians, including Musca and ScreenWest director of production investment Defrim Isai, to join him on a visit to the province of Hebei.
Andreacchio is developing Gold Road with Hebei Film Productions, a drama about a Chinese acrobat circus troupe and their journey on foot through the Australian bush to Ballarat during the gold rush of the 1850s. The grace and spectacle of their non-verbal performance won the hearts of many racist Australians on that journey.
Hebei, a province that encircles Beijing, is the traditional heritage centre of acrobats in China with some of the world’s most renowned coming from this region.
Andreacchio is also linked to China co-productions involving Denmark and New Zealand and also intends to follow up The Dragon Pearl with a film about all nine dragons of China, representing north, south, east and west, and earth, air, wind, fire and water.
“There are a lot of Australians who don’t have the resources or interest in establishing long-term relationships with China” he said. “They are primarily interested in doing one or two projects that involve China and that’s the key reason why AMPCO now is also executive producing.”
“China is a massive market and a huge opportunity, and even if every Australian filmmaker decided to set up a co-production, we would literally not see each other. It makes more sense to work together.”