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Legendary - a producer's view of filming in China

Legendary boat in caveProducer Christopher Milburn of Midsummer Films was in China earlier this year making Legendary, a 3D creature feature starring Dolph Lundgren and Scott Adkins.

Directed by Eric Styles, the feature centres on Travis (played by Adkins), a cryptozoologist who sets out to prove the existence of a prehistoric and deadly dragon. But he has a rival - the ruthless hunter Harker (Lundgren), who will stop at nothing to get his prey.

We spoke to Milburn about the production process, filming in China, and his plans for the future. 

Background and getting the film to market

Milburn started out as an actor but soon realised that he preferred being on the other side of the camera.

“I found producing was something I really enjoyed. I have since been involved in over twenty films as a producer, some small, some large, and mostly filmed in Europe, the US, Canada and China.”

The nature of film being what it is, it took some time to get Legendary to market, as Milburn outlined: “It took seven years to get the film made. Eventually we raised money through pre-sales, equity investments and tax credits. Dolph and Scott came on board after reading the script and learning we were shooting in China in 3D.”

Legendary - in the caveInvestors and production partners

“We had one main Chinese investor/partner in China. Although there were others, they were affiliated with the Chinese investor. To film in China, it is important to work with two government agencies, SARFT and CFCC. You must properly follow their guidelines and the country’s codes.”

Filming in China - the process

“The storyline required that the film was shot on location in China” said Milburn. “Although the opening sequence was actually meant to be Russia, we used China to double up.”

The producer explained that the paperwork was fairly straightforward.

“Once we were granted a shooting permit there wasn’t much bureaucracy. We had some key creatives who we took to China; the overall shoot there lasted 60 days. We then did all our post in the UK – which for a 3D creature feature involved a lot of work.”

“We were on location mostly but were equipped out of China Film Group Studios, with state-of-the-art equipment. It was excellent, the crews were great to work with.”

But what was the main challenge in making the film?

“The main challenge was finding a balance between making a film for the international audience and for the Chinese audience – especially as we shot in 3D.”

                  

Dolph LUndgren in Legendary Scott Adkins in Legendary

Filming in China – an overview

Milburn’s overall impression of filming in China is “excellent”. He’s there at the moment doing another film, Outcast, starring Hayden Christensen and Nicolas Cage. It centres on a former Crusader who helps the banished daughter and youngest son of a fallen king as they are hunted down by their vengeful older brother who has usurped the crown.

He describes it a period road movie, as kind of “eastern, with lots of fun, lots of action and lots of hard work.”

As to potential future projects filming in China, Milburn sums up his feelings thus:

“I look forward to working here many times over the years to come.”

We would like to thank Christopher Milburn for his time, insight and expertise.

If you have experience of filming in China, we'd love to hear about it. You can leave comments here or via our Facebook page.

 



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