While we’re not even sure whether we’ll survive this summer (MORE NEWS FORTHCOMING), we have already stumbled into another big project. Li Yang and I have been locked in long discussions within our team and with a visiting TV crew, including main director and vice producer. They have big plans.
During the course of this year, the Prop Roots Center will be extended with some fantastic studios and classrooms. Jackie Chan’s Charitable Foundation will have them built for us! (Because of copyright issues I cannot post the first designs here, but it looks pretty amazing.)
Jackie Chan himself will come twice and we’re told he will have a tiny little entourage of about 100 people with him. Also when he’s not there, there will still be an impressive construction team crowding the place, and a huge film crew, with loads of technicians, VIP’s and their assistants.
It won’t be easy. The building project will be pure charity, but the simultaneous production of a 3-hour long TV program will have a rather more commercial nature. The entire building process, Prop Roots’ background story, the children’s dreams and ideals, and some big ceremonies in our village, they will document as much as possible - or even more than that…
This TV company is prone to turning everything into “reality show”. (Only quite late did we discover that the same company was in fact responsible for the infamous and grossly unscrupulous “变形记” biànxíngjì reality show.) They want to catch as many heavy emotions as possible and are known to use all kinds of tricks to achieve that, including incognito actors. They obviously aren’t used to filming community projects for vulnerable people. The children here have private stories that shouldn’t become public and they should never be used for cockfighting. We have already discovered that this crew is very good at setting traps and winkling out private information (“don’t you think your father could well be a drug dealer?”) and we have already taken action against that.
The TV director, producer, and other representatives hired by Jackie Chan’s foundation have just left, after several days of discussion, script-writing and preliminary shootings. Nothing personal against these people, who even are quite nice to deal with and only doing their jobs. But it surely was tough. The whole thing will remain a game of give-and-take for the months to come. Li Yang knows best what the children, the local society and our project itself are like and really need. If we don’t emphasize on what’s feasible and necessary, the final result will only satisfy the average Chinese TV audience’s petty prejudices and expectations. That would be a shame and moreover, it could seriously harm some people, and Prop Roots’ future as well.
The good thing about this whole project will be that some important papers will be signed, giving Prop Roots a firmer legal footing. A building project like the one ahead, for which all kinds of official permissions are needed and a lot of money is involved, would be impossible without close cooperation with the government. Luckily, we do have connections with the right officials, who understand the constructive values of what we do and are much willing to support us.
If only we had more staff! Li Yang, my wife and Prop Roots’ leader, will be the pivot in every discussion, shooting and planning session during this whole progress. But right at this stage, alongside so many other projects, she will also be busy arranging (and funding) vocational schooling for our oldest students that have just left primary high school, and also needs to go visit them at their schools, some of which will in quite far away parts of the country.
And I? Will I still find time for reading about consciousness & the self, and editing my introspective and quixotic music? Probably not. Or just a tiny, precious little bit. But I’ll do write some more, keeping the readers up to date and documenting some potentially amazing situations. Till later!
More info: www.proproots.org