female characters

Nov 15, 2023

Be A Screenwriter In China

I have met or am meeting the problems in the process of screenwriting in China. Today is about FEMALE CHARACTERS!

As one of the writers, the film Give You A Candy wrapped up in November, and distribution has been scheduled for release next summer.  It’s a recent development in my work.

And my screenwriting work is still going on.  One of the TV dramas, For Hire, featuring some urban women’s stories, has entered the final stage of character confirmation with the production team.  In order to negotiate with the distribution platform, the production team hopes that we (my co-writer and I) highlight the characters and plight of these women, emphasizing dramatic tension and core conflicts.  For example, adding labels, referencing counterpart characters (preferably from Chinese films and TV dramas), and so on

This is truly a big challenge for us!

Regarding the characters’ challenges, we initially listed some modern challenges and plights faced by urban Chinese women. Unfortunately, in the eyes of the production team, those were deemed “insignificant”—a woman being laid off at 35, leading to an unimaginable chaotic life—certainly not a crisis in the eyes of many men.  So, we had to replace plot segments and create dramatic challenges and plights that resonate with the Chinese market and audience (imagination and habits) (😭😭).

Concerning characterization, we initially listed the personality traits of the characters along with corresponding plotlines to illustrate their characteristics and dramatic tension. At the same time, we drew parallels with characters from several movies and made some references, but they shook their heads and said, “You can’t just list foreign dramatic characters. We must ground them! GROUND! Ground them into a Chinese audience.

We got stuck. and we knew that we could not escape from that situation.

Then we did a lot of research and watched a lot of Chinese TV shows.

Modern urban women in Chinese films and TV dramas,

1. Whose husband or boyfriend cheated, became hysterical, and kept entangling…

2. Her husband or boyfriend cheated, betrayed her, and stole all her money, and then she joined forces with the husband or boyfriend’s new girl for revenge.

3. Her husband or boyfriend cheated, and she started her own career and attracted new suitors, but she was still entangled with the EX.

4. The housewife went hysterical for the child’s education or tangled or fought with the husband’s mother or family…

5. The housewife is actually the behind-the-scenes supporter of her husband’s career, but nobody knows; she suffered a lot.

6. A housewife and worker went hysterical for the child’s education…

7. A single’s intelligence drops when encountering a relationship…

8. A single woman must eventually meet true love in a career or a high school classmate, then be a housewife.

9. …

I don’t want to continue listing.

In the context of many male professionals in the industry and the influence of China’s patriarchal ideology, the image of women in Chinese films and TV dramas has basically solidified, and the types and action patterns have become stereotyped.

What’s even more frightening is that when we propose unconventional actions and dramatic situations, resistance and uncomfortable feelings come from the production/distribution side.

▶️ Although your approach is bold, we’re afraid the audience won’t buy it!
▶️ Your design are very pioneering, but, seems not grounded and realistic enough. We need some Chinese-style dramatic and conflicts that the audiences can receive…
▶️ According to our platform’s data, audiences prefer melodramatic plots and those types of female characters…


Mercy this project, mercy the female characters in Chinese films and TV, God! Please.