【Watching the Trend of Literature and Art】
Author: Hu Xiang (Assistant Researcher at the Development Research Center of the State Administration of Radio and Television)
In recent years, “after-sales” has become a key word in the development of film and television. From the main creators of variety shows and live broadcasts, to modifying the content of works according to audience preferences, to creating derivative variety shows, dramas, and musicals in response to audience calls, to launching peripheral cultural and creative products and travel routes… Practitioners show their unique skills to satisfy the audience. The diverse needs can also bring huge economic benefits. However, practitioners’ awareness of after-sales is gradually increasing, which has brought new development opportunities to the film and television industry. It has also triggered discussions from all walks of life on issues such as “where is the boundary of after-sales” and “whether the prevalence of after-sales will affect the subjectivity of creation”. How film and television after-sales can complement the creation needs to be continuously explored by practitioners in practice.
Establish a closer psychological connection with the public
Film and television after-sales refers to the various services that producers provide to audiences based on film and television content during and after the broadcast of film and television works. It is the product of mass cultural consumption and the development of the film and television industry to a certain stage. In the beginning, film and television works were disseminated one-way with theaters and TV stations as the main platforms. Therefore, after-sales service is relatively simple and mainly functions to promote information about the work to the audience and guide aesthetic appreciation. For example, the main creators participate in variety shows, hold viewing and exchange activities with the participation of audiences and industry experts, etc. These activities have become an important channel for audiences to understand the works for a period of time.
Stills and information pictures from the TV series “Dream of Red Mansions”
In recent years, the Internet has become a way for audiences to watch film and television works and obtain relevant information. Its massive storage, repeated clicks, instant comments, secondary creation and other functions have transformed film and television communication from one-way viewing to two-way interaction, and the profit model has also changed from one where the completion of the screening means the life cycle of most works has basically ended. Hammer trading has become a long-term model for sustainably obtaining copyright income from online platforms. Coupled with the continuous promotion and application of high and new technologies and the updating and iteration of operating concepts, these changes have profoundly changed the face of the industry and enabled film and television after-sales to present new characteristics and trends.
The first is to enhance the audience’s experience through the Internet platform. Some after-sales services cut highlight moments and behind-the-scenes footage into short videos and distribute them on short video platforms. Some allow the creative staff to conduct live broadcasts and airborne barrage areas to frequently interact with the audience. Some open accounts for characters on social platforms, and publish relevant content in the character’s tone on “anniversaries” such as the character’s birthday and the first anniversary of the broadcast of the work. In the process of watching the work, the audience often develops some attachment to their favorite characters and develops an imaginary interpersonal relationship. By creating topics related to the work, the film studio enhanced the viewing experience, awakened viewing memories, increased the emotional stickiness between the public and the work, further shortened the emotional distance between them and the characters, and set off a wave of consumption.
Data picture of drama version of the TV series “Human World”
The second is to absorb multiple opinions and turn the public from bystanders into creative participants. The film crew quickly understood the demands of all parties and provided timely feedback through channels such as barrages, comments, and seminars. For example, in a play adapted from an online literary IP, an important plot was very different from the original work, which was criticized by fans. The producers not only modified the plot based on the opinions of netizens, but also opened up the sub-track files to encourage viewers to create secondary works. In order to make up for the lack of special effects in the theater version, a certain science fiction blockbuster made more than 100 minor adjustments when it was released online. The opinions of audiences and experts can directly affect the production and broadcasting of film and television works, thereby establishing an increasingly close psychological connection with the public.
The third is to upgrade the IP development model, enhance the long-tail effect of works, and give birth to new forms of film and television development. As entertainment options become increasingly diverse, people are no longer satisfied with seeing the world through film and television works, but are more eager to immerse themselves in the experiences of story characters. Practitioners have updated their IP development concepts, integrating the content, themes or creative teams of original works with tourism, fashion, catering, fashion and other industries to provide after-sales services. For example, the TV series “Love between Mountains and Seas” was adapted into an original national opera, the TV series “Human World” released a literary script, the movie “Chang’an 30,000 Miles” created a summer study route, and the original art design team of the online drama “Chang’an Twelve Hours” built “Chang’an “Twelve O’clock” themed block. When the audience has not yet been separated from the plot of the film and television works, they will have an inexplicable sense of loss. These derivatives and services create situations, scenes, and feelings similar to the story, which can fill this emotional void and give people the feeling of fantasy coming true, allowing film and television works to truly integrate into real life.
Pay attention to the cultural attributes and value orientation of after-sales service
There is a popular saying in the industry right now, that is, “People stay together until the song ends, and there is profit after sales.” With the characteristics of rapid dissemination, frequent interaction and immersive experience, film and television after-sales service builds a huge story world, which not only maintains the enthusiasm of the existing audience group, but also attracts the attention of public opinion. This approach not only extends the artistic life of the work, but also improves economic benefits. It is very beneficial to building an operating model centered on film and television IP and empowering and linking various cultural industries. Especially in recent years, various novel and active film and television after-sales activities have become an important profit point for film and television works in addition to box office and advertising, which is conducive to industry recycling.
“Chang’an Twelve Hours” theme district file photo
However, as the industry pays more and more attention to film and television after-sales and is making full efforts to attack the “after-sales economy”, the academic community still pays insufficient attention to this field. There is a lack of corresponding research on both the after-sales concept and specific methods. Due to the lack of scientific guidance, some after-sales activities went astray during the specific implementation process. Some practitioners do not regard providing audiences with a better cultural experience as their top priority, but blindly pursue maximizing profits, put capital logic above artistic creation, and narrow after-sales services to marketing promotions, resulting in unfocused planning activities. If you don’t pay attention when making derivatives, you will fall into misunderstandings such as excessive entertainment and star chasing. For example, a well-reputed online drama caused negative reviews from viewers because the “Final Cloud Song Party” was boring and embarrassing. The derivatives of a certain movie were shoddy and lacked a sense of design, and were commented by netizens as “expensive and ugly.” There are also some practitioners who blindly cater to the audience’s demands, reduce after-sales service to “guaranteed replacement if not satisfied”, arbitrarily change the plot direction, modify the artistic style, and even disrupt the original narrative rhythm and connotation beauty, destroying the integrity of the work. For example, in response to the call of the audience, a certain romantic drama changed the open ending in which the male protagonist loses his memory and forgets his past love with the heroine to a happy ending in which the male and female protagonists hold hands and walk away. Due to the heavy traces of modification, the plot development lacks foreshadowing and suffers from Public criticism.
Illustration: Cai Qiuyan
It should be noted that film and television works are different from general commodities. In addition to entertainment functions, they also have aesthetic functions, educational functions, etc. Film and television after-sales service cannot be completely equated with product after-sales service, nor should pure commercial thinking be used to guide film and television after-sales service. Producers should pay attention to the cultural attributes and value orientation of after-sales services, so that they can appropriately match and complement the work.
Realize industry self-improvement and transcendence
As the saying goes, “Those with strong roots will be successful, and those with rich anointing will be brilliant.” For the film and television industry, after the works are produced first, they will be sold. This is the relationship between roots and branches, source and flow. Only with solid roots and dredged sources can we create a vivid scene of hundreds of flowers blooming and rivers surging. Therefore, no matter how the film and television industry develops, practitioners should always adhere to the concept that content is king. Looking at the history of film and television development, we can see that those works with profound cultural heritage and rich artistic connotations can continue to attract the public’s attention and have a long artistic life even without a variety of after-sales services. For example, the TV series “A Dream of Red Mansions” and “The Romance of the Three Kingdoms” broadcast in the 1980s and 1990s have now received more than 500 million online views and captured countless young “die fans”. “Age of Awakening” and “The World” attracted batch after batch of “tap water” to actively help promote it. Therefore, the producer should first ensure that the artistic quality of the work passes the standard, and on this basis, provide after-sales service. Starting from deep dimensions such as artistic standards and social value, the producer should explore the public’s points of interest or connections with real life in the stories and characters. Carry out careful planning, precise matching, and precise contact to enhance its value guidance, cultural cohesion, and spiritual appeal, and achieve both economic and social benefits.
Stills and file pictures from the movie “Chang’an 30,000 Miles”
In addition, in the process of providing after-sales service and meeting the needs of the audience, we also need to adhere to the subjectivity of artistic creation. Excellent film and television works are carefully shot and produced with complete and smooth ideas, reasonable planning and layout. It is different from fragmented commodities. It has both profound theme expression and superb artistic pursuit. Modifying the plot direction and artistic style in response to the audience’s call may seem simple, but in fact, it can affect the whole body. It can easily destroy the original ideological context, narrative rhythm and connotation of the work, so it must be treated with caution. After discovering omissions and deficiencies in the production process, the producer should extensively absorb opinions from all parties, and formulate the best modification plan through rational analysis and comprehensive consideration to achieve a balance between artistic quality and audience reputation.
In short, good film and television after-sales service can make high-quality film and television works famous and gain fame and fortune. At a time when the film and television industry is becoming more closely integrated with industry, technology, and media, the concept of film and television after-sales service is becoming more and more broad, and the methods are becoming more and more abundant. However, regardless of the changes, practitioners should regard the psychological needs of the audience as the driving force for high-quality content creation, create a good environment for rational communication, achieve self-improvement and self-transcendence of the industry, and promote the high-quality development of Chinese film and television.
“Guangming Daily” (November 08, 2023, page 15)