[Feature] Production Teams behind Popular C-Drama and C-Movies

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Yumama is at work! Let’s see, who should I ship next?

The second part of my feature~ Here is a list of the most well known production teams and directors for Chinese projects 🙂

Production Company

Tangren media

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Tangren was created in 1998. The president, Karen Tsai, was only 25 when she started the company and participated on more than 40 series (You go girl @_@). Another important figure of the company is Lee Kwok Lap (or Li Guoli), who produced a large quantity of the most memorable dramas below. A large amount of Tangren dramas stars Hu Ge and Liu Shishi, but they also involves the recurring participation of the rest of signed actors (eg: Guli Nazha, Jiang Jingfu, Yuan Hong). Haha, In 2012, I thought they were overworking my baby girl Liu Shishi :P. All in all, Tangren does some of the best periodic dramas out there and is famous for their impact in the dramaland.

  • Signed actors: Hu Ge, Liu Shishi, Guli Nazha, Hu Bingqing
  • Ex-signed actors: Yuan Hong, Lin Gengxin, Jiang Jingfu, Ying Er, Sun Yizhou
  • Notorious dramas: Chinese Paladin 1 and Chinese Paladin 3, Bu Bu Jing Xin, Legend of Condor Heroes, Wu Xin: Monster Killer
  • Upcoming projects: Three Lives Three Worlds (movie), 20 Once Again

Yu Zheng (Yumama)

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Yu Zheng is famous for his controversial dramas, often brought to court for plagiarism. His most famous cases include the one against Chiung Yao for Palace 3: The Lost Daughter and the public dispute against Tong Hua for Destined to Love You. His other projects such as Schemes of a Beauty, Palace I and Beauty without Tears all involve plagiarism claims by third parties. Would he change his ways? I certainly hope so! Yu Zheng’s favourite actor is Chen Xiao, who starred in the most projects created by the Yumama. His dramas are extremely popular and well known for their addictive and colourful *cough CGI cough* content.

  • Signed actors: Chen Xiao, Yang Rong, Yuan Shanshan
  • Notorious dramas: Legend of Luzhen, Palace I, Palace II, Swordsman, Romance of Condor Heroes
  • Upcoming projects: Memory Lost

Huayi Brothers

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The biggest production company in China, Huayi, does a lot of collaboration with other individual companies and has the big bucks to invest in star studded projects. For that reason, they are involved in a lot of international and high budget projects, such as the movies directed by Feng Xiaogang.

  • Signed actors: Angelababy, Yao Chen, Li Xiaolu, Jiang Nailiang, Li Chen, Chen He, Zheng Kai, Viann Zhang, Feng Shaofeng, Jing Boran, Ady An, Zhang Hanyu
  • Notorious movies: Cell Phone, If You Are the One, The Forbidden Kingdom, Painted Skin, Taichi 0
  • Upcoming projects: The Wasted Times

H&R Century Pictures

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H&R heavily collaborated with Yu Zheng between 2009 to 2012. They also funded multiple celebrities to launch their own drama, including Hawick Lau, Du Chun and Ruby Lin.

  • Signed actors:Tang Yan, Li Yifeng, Qin Chunjie
  • Notorious movies: Ancient Sword, Palace, Lost Tomb, Zhu Xian
  • Upcoming projects: The Glory of Tang Dynasty

Daylight Entertainment

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On the list due to popular demand 😛 I don’t know this company very well but after watching The Disguiser and Nirvana in Fire, I am even more excited for their upcoming projects! As said in the comment section, Daylight Entertainment is part of Shandong Film which caters to an older audience. Some popular work from that company include Battle in Changsha, All Quiet in Beijing, and Family at Wenzhou.

  • Signed actors: Jin Dong, Wang Kai, Liu Mingtao
  • Notorious dramas: Nirvana in Fire, Ode to Joy, The Disguiser, Love Me if You Dare
  • Upcoming projects: Ode to Joy 2, Nirvana in Fire 2

As Xingfenzhen said in the comment section, there is a lot more memorable companies than the ones named above. I suggest reading the comment section for videos and A LOT of details (thank you a lot!). Here is a quick recap of what she said:

Hua-Qian-Gu

LeTV and Ciwen TV both produced (invested) in many dramas with great success such as My Sunshine and Hua Qian Gu.

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Beijing Television and Art Center is the oldest production team in China, and dominated CCTV (China’s main broadcasting channel) since the 80s, with memorable dramas such as Four Generations under One Roof, The Story of an Editorial Board, Zhen Huan Zhuan.

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Another company similar to Beijing TV is China Teleplay Production Center which is directly connected to CCTV. They produced pearls such as Journey to the West, Dream of Red Chamber, A Taste of China, Three Kingdoms, and Hexi Corridor.

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Finally, Shen Yi Entertainment started in 1990 as a joint venture between Taiwan and China. It produced many Chiung Yao’s work including Huan Zhu Ge Ge, Romance in the Rain, and Flowers in Fog.

… Obviously, I will not name all the companies out there, as it would take forever! However, click here for the list of production companies and their most famous signed actors 😛

Directors

Here is a list of the most well known directors in China and some of my favourite. The Top 3 have been producing movies since I was a baby and I grew up with their work in the back of my mind ^^~

Zhang Yimou

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Zhang Yimou does a lot of period movies such as Curse of the Golden Flower which are known for their gorgeous and meaningful setting. He is the most well known Chinese director and had many movies been chosen as the Chinese contestant for the Oscars. In addition, he directed the Opening and Closing Olympic Ceremony of Beijing 2008. Zhang Yimou is currently promoting his very much controversial movie The Great Wall starring Matt Damon.

  • Actors associated with him: Zhang Ziyi, Gong Li, Zhou Dongyu, Ni Ni
  • Famous movies: Flowers of War, Hero, House of Flying Daggers, Curse of the Golden Flower, Hero
  • Upcoming projects: The Great Wall

Feng Xiaogang

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Feng Xiaogang has a dry humour which he explores to the fullest in his comedy films. His movies represent the older generation of Chinese people and their struggle with changing time.

  • Actors associated with him: Ge You, Zhang Hanyu, Shu Qi
  • Famous projects: Cell Phone, A World Without Thieves, If You Are the One
  • Upcoming projects: I am Not Madame Bovary

Stephen Chow

Stephen-Chow

Who doesn’t know the “Sing girls”? They are girls scouted by Stephen Chow and who gained tremendous fame and popularity by these collaborations. Out of the list we presented, Stephen Chow is the only director who actively performs in his movies. His genre is comedy.

  • Actors associated with him: Kitty Zhang, Athena Chu, Karen Mok, Eva Huang, Lin Yun
  • Famous projects: A Chinese Odyssey, Shaolin Soccer, Kungfu Hustle, Mermaid
  • Upcoming projects: Journey to the West 2

Zhang Yibai

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He is currently the most popular director for idol movies. Despite having gorgeous setting, cast, and scenes… his movies are boring and very cliche. His list of projects is very long and I watched a large number of them, although it was more for the cast than for his directing. His upcoming project, I Belonged to You will star Yang Yang, Bai Baihe, Deng Chao, and Zhang Tian Ai and it is one of my most anticipated projects.

  • Famous projects: But Always, Fleet of Time, Run for Love, Never Gone
  • Upcoming projects: I Belonged to You, Love O2O

Honorable mention for directors producing high quality dramas!

  1. 侯鸿亮, 孔笙, 李雪: Nirvana in Fire, Ode to Joy, The Disguiser
  2. 郑晓龙: Zhen Huan Zhuan, Mi Yue Zhuan
  3. 林玉芬: Hua Qian Gu, Chinese Paladin 3, Bubujingxin
  4. 张纪中: Romance of Three Kingdoms 1994, Tian Long Ba Bu 2003, Return of Condor Heroes 2006
  5. 高希希: Happiness as Flowers, Shanghai Bund, Three Kingdoms, For Love or Money
  6. 刘俊杰: My Sunshine, Boss&Me, I am Du Lala

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21 thoughts on “[Feature] Production Teams behind Popular C-Drama and C-Movies

  1. DramaLvr says:

    Can’t stand Yu Zheng, he plagiarizes and many people believe he starts bad rumors about his female leads to create buzz around his dramas. It takes years for these poor girls to fight off antis. I feel sorry for any woman that works on his dramas, they get famous but for all the wrong reasons.

    You should mention the production team behind Nirvana in Fire, The Disguiser and Ode to Joy. I will watch anything they put out. It’s always better quality than most other companies and seems like they pay attention to small details more.

    Anyone know the production team behind Tribes and Empires: Storm of Prophecy? It’s not even out yet, but that trailer looked amazing.

    Like

    • intellectualkitten says:

      :”( Yes, Yuan Shanshan had it hard when she first started. It is the same with a lot of company though, Viann Zhang and Angelababy all started with tons of tabloids. Such a nasty thing to do for popularity 😦

      I would but those production teams only produced the dramas you mentioned and they are kind of different from everyone else on the list so I took them out. But you are right, they deserve their corner, I will add a note for them!

      Like

      • xingfenzhen says:

        The thing is when talking about Daylight Entertainment it’s almost impossible not to talk about Shandong Film and TV groups. Daylight is itself is a spin off from Shanying in 2011, so it can persuit project as a private corp as well as not regionally bound to Shangdong. If you do include older Shanyin work, it include a whole slew of popular TV shows, though they tend to target older audiences. (which could be the reason behind their attention to detail when producing youth oriented drama)

        Also note though Shanying and daylight are closely related, they are not exactly the same, as Shanying continue to make independent drama after the daylight spin-off such as all quiet in peking and battle of changsha.

        Below are some drama produced by the team at daylight when they are part of shanying

        To Northeast – 2008

        Battle 1938 – 2009

        Family at Wenzhou – 2012

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Pong says:

    CMIIW, but isn’t Daylight Ent also responsible for All Quiet in Beijing and Love Me if You Dare and has both Wang Kai and Jin Dong listed as their artist? Tbh I don’t know how C-ent works do labels function as both talent agency and produce dramas?

    Like

    • intellectualkitten says:

      You are right! I just did a google search and indeed Daylight Ent signed Jin Dong and Wang Kai and is the one behind the production of Nirvana in Fire.
      I am not very familiar with the system but here is my input: Production teams sign actors/idols and produce projects. They don’t any specific directors and are basically a group of investors. As actors become more famous, they often decide to open their own production team (Ruby Lin, Du Chun, etc.) and sponsor the projects themselves. Yu Zheng is one of them and he is very successful at it. Tangren is a little special since they have the same team for a lot of their projects 😛

      Like

    • xingfenzhen says:

      All Quiet in Beijing is technically under Shandong TV and Film rather than under Daylight entertainment, even though it is the Daylight team under Shangdong that produced it. (confused yet?) The reason for that is because it co-produced with a bunch of Beijing Companies like Ruyi Films and Shangdong has a much bigger name than Daylight.

      Like

      • TK says:

        It should be that Daylight Ent is more the agency with the actors/actresses signed to them and handles their scheduling, acting gigs as well as advertisement gigs. Shandong TV and Film is the production company responsible for making the actual drama.

        Like

  3. Jo says:

    Agree, Tangren makes the best period dramas and I did not know Karen was 25 WOW!! And the never ending battle between Yumama and everyone else hahaha but I forgive it all for Yang Rong😂😂 but I can’t forgive the CGI! And two words come to mind when I think of Huayi “candy” and “Pretty” no explanation needed. I like H&R because they give or the celebrities have more freedom, like didn’t Tang Yan start up her own thing out it? Im not really familiar with directors though I love their work

    Like

    • intellectualkitten says:

      Yes, I am so impressed by Karen Tsai, I am so far from been as amazing :”D
      Yep, Tang Yan has her own company under H&R, a lot of ex-Huayi actors are the same (for example, Huang Xiaoming) ^^

      Liked by 1 person

    • DramaLvr says:

      Not just Yumama, but pretty much all the dramas that get bought by Hunan TV needs to stop with the CGI animals, they look ridiculous. Also with the visual vomit of colors, it’s too much for my eyes to handle. I prefer the more subdued, but still utterly breathtaking backdrop of Nirvana in Fire.

      Those early stars that signed with Huayi and bought a lot of stock when it went public made a lot of bank. I think the company is also investing in Hollywood films now. I noticed watching a commercial for Bad Moms and at the very beginning I saw Huayi Brothers. It was so weird, I assumed Chinese companies only invested in big blockbusters, but it was nice seeing them take an interest in American comedies.

      Like

      • Jo says:

        Don’t get me started on the CGI animals haha I just can’t and Nirvana was on a whole level of beautifulness. I did not know that about Huayi, that is amazing.

        Like

  4. xingfenzhen says:

    Also don’t forget Beijing Television and Art Center, which is the oldest TV producer in China and a staple for CCTV time slots. It produced China’s first TV drama, four generations under one roof back in 1985 and a slew of iconic dramas in the 90s and 2000s. However, they tend to target older adults.

    Notable works

    Four Generations under one roof/The yellow storm -1985

    Kewang/Hope – 1990 (The first Chinese long form drama, 50 Episodes)

    The Stories Of An Editorial Board (The most popular mainland TV show in the 1990s)

    This series make a comeback recently due to this meme

    A Native of Beijing in New York -1994 (The first Chinese filmed primarily shot overseas, it is also most Chinese people’s first impression of the United States back in the 1990s)

    Golden Marriage -2005 (It uses the 1 ep per year form from Year after Year [also made by Beijing] but the story goes from 1956 to 2005)

    Zhen Huan Zhuan/Empresses in the Palace (No explaintion needed)

    ——————

    In the same vein is China Teleplay Production Center, which is the the production arm for CCTV. They are most notable for large scale historical dramas and classics.

    Notable works

    Journey to the West – 1986 This classic of classics. I swear this drama never ages and continues to grace prime TV timeslots every summer

    Dream of Red Chamber – 1987 the filming style is quite old and it’s difficult to watch the story these days. However, no other interpretation captures the character as gracefully and accurately as this one. The new 2010 version really sucks btw, despite the full fuss of reality tv selection of actors.

    Romance of Three Kingdoms – 1994

    As commercial historical drama started to pick up in the later 1990s, it moved to revolutionary dramas, however, very few are notables. Now it appears commercial revolutionary are in the full swing, it’s likely it will focus exclusively on CCTV documentaries, which now have increasingly high production quality.

    A taste of China

    Story of Tea

    Heavy Machines

    Hexi Corridor

    Like

    • xingfenzhen says:

      Also of historical significances is Shen Yi entertainment, which is born in the 1990s as Mainland and Taiwan joint venture aims to take advantage of resources on both sides of the straight. It is founded by Qing Yao, thus it almost exclusives does Qing Yao adoptions.

      Notable Works

      Princess Pearl Pearl/My fair princess 1,2,3 as well as the 2011 remake

      Romance in the Rain

      After its golden age in the early 2000s, it pretty much run fade out of existence other than the 2010 remake of My fair princess which everyone loves to hate. It’s other productions like Flowers In Fog in 2013 did not gain much traction. it’s newest production (Your Majesty) is almost completely taiwan focused as it did even get air time in mainland China.

      Like

    • xingfenzhen says:

      Also note that China produces more than 500 dramas per year, so some companies are very high yield and often have quantity over quality philosophy. Additionally, in the last couple of year web giants like LeTV and Tencent are actively producing content, and it is have become a major player. (not so different from Netflix in the US with house of cards, orange is the new black etc.)

      Ciwen TV: Produces about 10 drama per years of varying quality, there is also no pattern or style to their works. It seems they’ll just fund any project that seems to profitable.

      Notable works

      Journal of Flower – 2015

      So Young – 2014

      18 Springs – 2003; I really liked this drama, perhaps I had too much Qing Yao in the 1990s it’s refrenshing to watch some Eileen Zhang

      Legend of Condor Heroes with Li Yapeng and Zhou Xun – 2003 I personally like this version a lot, even though Zhou Xun didn’t really look like my impression of Huang Rong from the books. Also note the director worked with multiple production companies, all of them don’t actualy care much of internal style and such. So LoCH – 2003, RoCH – 2006, DGSD – 2008 all have similar style, but are from different production companies.

      ————–

      Hai Run Movies & TV Production, Probably the biggest Chinese production company in term quantity if not quality, they also claim to be the oldest commerical drama production company in China, founded in 1993.
      Look at all the dramas they made…
      http://www.hairunmedia.com/zuopin.php
      Notable Works
      Romance of Blood – 2004

      I actually enjoyed this one while watch it, quite a heart wrenching story, but you need a good understand of Cultural revolution and the reform period that followed to understand. This scene particularly moves me, China in the 1990s and 1970s might as well be different world and the Characters goes between those world might as well have two lifetimes.

      Show the sword – 2005, the first revolutionary drama from a commerical company that beat most if not all previous SOE produced drama. From that point on commerical drama starts to enter this space en mass. Hence you have both gems like The Disguiser as well as 抗日神剧.

      And not yet aired Rookie Agent Rougue (Co production with New Classic Media

      ————–

      Zhejiang Huace Film & TV Co., Another high volume production company. Formed only in 2005. yet it slings out drama like no tomorrow.
      List of their drama
      hhttp://www.huacemedia.com/a/tv/
      Notable works
      Memoirs in China – 2007

      The Magic Blade – 2012

      My Amazing Boyfriend – 2016

      ———–

      New Classic Media China; Primarily produces Idol type dramas. Also their movies tends to do pretty well.
      Full List
      http://www.ncmchina.com/cnworks.aspx

      Notable works
      Beijing Love Story – 2012

      Tiger Mom -2015

      Imperial Doctress (Co-production with Tang Ren) – 2016 (well produced in 2014)

      —–
      Croton Media, primariy foucus on modern drama and idol dramas.
      Full list
      http://www.croton.com.cn/Pc/page/Index.html

      Notable Works
      Ipartment

      My Sunshine

      Boss&Me

      Plus a bunch of stuff not aired yet, but has tons of hype.

      Like

    • sox says:

      Thank you for your generous list! And lots of thanks to ikitten. It’s nice to see info on series beyond ubiquitous idol and “pop” series. Some of the SMG productions and artists are pretty good. I was more mesmerized by Chen Shu and several older actors’s acting in The Bund than I was with Huang Xiaoming, though that was one of his better performances.

      I checked out some of TV director Kong Sheng’s work too. And some of his cohorts’. I saw the first few episodes of A family from Wenzhou. It looked like it could be interesting, though I’m not as fond of the female lead of that series. So I am planning on checking out “Two families from Wenzhou” instead.

      Some tv directors I also like are Gao Xixi, Zhang Jizhong. Li Kwok lap usually directs actors quite well, though I don’t always enjoy watching the plot of his series. It sounds like he has a team of directors working under him though. Dir Li seems to pay a lot of attention to the commercial potential of TV series ($$$). I haven’t checked out the production firm that produced Decoded with director An Jian, but they also have quite a few very good actors in that series, including some middle-aged actors and a couple of newbies. A quick browse at dir AJ’s work…, they look very militaristic though. Some idol drama directors, like directors for Interpreters, etc.. They are often unable to get good performances out of some actors (like Vengo Gao).

      Some of the CCTV documentaries listed above are quite good. I enjoyed a few of them, incl. “A Bite..” and “…Tea”.

      Liked by 1 person

      • intellectualkitten says:

        Hehe, I agree, this post was initially for idol dramas and modern productions… since that is what I know the best :P. But reading the information given by xingfenzhen was super useful and insightful, it teaches me a lot about the drama scene since the 1980s xD. Even the Bund, which is such an iconic drama, I didnt get the chance to watch :”D

        I am also a big fan of Gao Xixi (just added him to the list, lol) and his projects are amazingly done. I took a look at Zhang Jizhong and he is more a producer than a director (?)… Anyway, I will come back here for future drama recommendations ^^

        Like

    • intellectualkitten says:

      Thank you so much Xingfenzhen! I haven’t watched a lot of the projects in the list you gave, but I also watched many of the most iconic ones. The information is super useful and I learnt a lot reading them… it is a nice reminder that Chinese dramas are not only the idol ones, but also the meaty dramas full of hardship and Chinese culture. In the original post, I added a section for these omnipresent production companies 🙂 (however, I didn’t cite everything since you obviously do a way better job at it than me!)

      Like

  5. I’m a bit surprised that Lee Kwok Lap 李國立 (or mandarin Li Guo Li) is not mentioned here. He directed and produced many popular dramas, mainly with Hu Ge, Yuan Hong and Liu Shi Shi. Both Karen Tsai and him (former TVB director) are from Hong Kong, and I think without his support and experience she never makes it as far as now. Some examples of his works as producer and director:

    > Chinese Paladin 1
    > Shao Nian Yang Jia Jiang (with Hu Ge, Yuan Hong, Eddie Peng)
    > Liao Zhai Qi Nu Zi (with Liu Shi Shi)
    > Legend of Condor Heroes (Hu Ge, Ariel Lin, Liu Shi Shi, Yuan Hong)
    > Chinese Paladin 3
    > Bu Bu Jing Xin
    > Da Mao Yao

    I’m pretty sure, that without him Tangren will not blossom back then and became what it is now.

    (Sorry for the bad english :’D ! I hope it doesn’t sound too rude.)

    Like

    • intellectualkitten says:

      Hi, I actually did some searches about him but ultimately decided to omit (since the article is more about production team). However, you are totally right to say he greatly contributed to Tangren and his achievements are great. I just added his information (just a little :P) in the Tangren section ^^

      Thanks 😀 And you are not rude at all ><

      Like

  6. thank you very much for this!! I always didn’t know what you guys were talking about whenever you would mention Tangren or Yumama, just got it thru context clues but now I have a better understanding lol haha!

    Like

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