Ji Chang Wook will be starring with Chinese actress Wang Xiao Chen in a Chinese drama titled “My Male God (我的男神)”, which will be co-produced by China and South Korea.
Jointly produced by China’s Longmeng Entertainment and Korea’s Lee Kim Productions, “My Male God” is a romantic comedy that will feature idols and a love story to appeal to young audiences (Note: Lee Kim Productions, which goes by the official English name of “Victory Production and Company” is the company that produced “Empress Ki”).
The drama tells the story of a working youth Wang Wei An (王伟岸) who becomes a second generation chaebol overnight, and Yang Hai Yi (杨海衣), the daughter of a rich family that went bankrupt and she becomes an ordinary girl. Both of them bicker a lot but end up falling in love. In the midst of crisis, they overcome problems and find their true selves, love, family and friendship in the process.
“My Male God” is written by scriptwriter Xi Lin (席琳), who is supposedly skilled in writing modern romantic comedies according to the producer Guo Xiao. But based on our own brief research, it seems like the scriptwriter has a very short resume, with only two works listed under her name — an unidentified movie called “Ni Ai” (unidentified because there are many movies with the exact same title), and the 2013 movie “Kidnapping of a Big Star (綁架大明星)”.
The drama will be directed by Hong Kong director Gao Xian Ming (高先明) who previously worked at Hong Kong television broadcaster TVB. Those of you familiar with Asian entertainment will know that TVB is a major station that has produced many acclaimed Cantonese dramas. Many Hong Kong actors and directors have been moving over to the China market in recent years, but Director Gao is one of the first TVB directors to do so. He began working on Chinese dramas in 1995. He has worked on both modern and period dramas, and some of his past works include “The Proud Twins (小鱼儿与花无缺)” which starred Hong Kong actor Nicholas Tse and Chinese actress Fan Bing Bing, “The Magic Blade (天涯明月刀)”, and “Love In Spring (爱在春天)”. According to the producer, Director Gao was chosen because of his ability to analyse issues from both a creative and business perspective, and also because his recent shows have done well and have received good viewership ratings and reviews.
The producer admits that based on the title “My Male God” alone, one can tell this is an idol drama targeted at females. He cites casting and aesthetics as two important elements when making an idol drama, as they must match the tastes of the young and the popular culture that they love. Given the popularity of the Korean Wave in China now, they have decided to collaborate with Korea on two levels — casting and production.
He said, “Ji Chang Wook was our top choice. His popularity is rising very quickly in Korea and across Asia, and the market is looking forward to seeing him.” So how can a Korean actor do a proper portrayal of a Chinese character? Ji Chang Wook’s role in the drama was specially adjusted for him. He will be playing a Korean-Chinese whose father is Chinese and mother is Korean.” In this way, the character is allowed to have some special Korean-style characteristics. Ji Chang Wook will also have stronger belief in his acting and feel more comfortable. The audience will also be able to accept this better and they won’t feel turned off just because he is a Korean actor.”
Acting with Ji Chang Wook is Chinese actress Wang Xiao Chen (王晓晨). Born in 1988, Wang Xiao Chen is currently starring opposite Hu Ge in “Good Times (大好时光)”, and is familiar for other C-dramas such as “Second Child Generation (二胎时代)” and “Honey Bee Man (我爱男闺蜜)” .
The producer said, “We wanted something refreshing, and Wang Xiao Chen hasn’t really acted in idol dramas before. We began to take notice of her in ‘Honey Bee Man’. Although she wasn’t the female lead in that drama, her performance greatly attracted us. Then came along ‘Second Child Generation’, ‘Mother Is Like a Flower (妈妈像花儿一样)’, and the currently airing ‘Good Times’. We thought she has potential, good hardware, and she has a natural flair not seen in many Chinese actresses, her acting is relaxed but spot on. She has a lot of projects at the second half of this year and they did well in the ratings and other fronts, and I think she still has room. I’m looking forward to her working with Ji Chang Wook.”
Longmeng Entertainment had worked with Lee Kim Productions to recruit a production team from Korea. The filming style and image styling will all be done by the Koreans. The lighting team had previously worked on Lee Min Ho’s drama “The Heirs”, while the dressing and hair styling will be done by the team that did “You Who Came From the Stars”. The Chinese team is hoping to get some experience from them. The producer said, “There are many Korean teams working in China now, but not many of them can be considered top grade. Many of those teams only have a department head, while many Chinese dramas only recruited a Korean lighting director or head stylist, but those who were truly working on the show were the Chinese. We are going for the whole package, from the lighting director to the lighting assistant; from the image design to the assistant stylist and the hair stylist; they are the truly top grade team in the Korean industry recruited through Lee Kim Productions.”
Although China-Korea co-productions have been popular in recent years, such collaborations are ridden with problems in reality. For a top Korean team to come to China, it is inevitable that they will bear some insecurity and mistrust. Problems in communication arise due to lack of understanding of each other, differences in work habits and also differing standards of creativity. To prevent such issues for “My Male God”, the producer says that lots of preparation have been done. “We spent one month trying to gain a better understanding of the situation faced by previous film crew who have worked on such co-productions, and deeply analysed the common problems they faced and their causes. We have also found close to 20 translators who have worked on such co-productions. They are actually our pillar, as they know best as to what were the problems that cropped up between the two sides. We did a round of observations and interviews with them and recruited some of them.”
The producer, director, scriptwriter and other staff members even made a personal visit to Korea and spent some time with the production team of a Korean drama to observe their operations and their working style. “There are many hear-says about how Korean dramas are filmed, but many things cannot be done just based on listening only; you need to see the real thing. We then realised that there are indeed discrepancies. We saw the differences and made necessary preparations in response. Now we communicate with the Korean team on an almost daily basis, and we are trying to smooth things out before filming begins.”
Filming for “My Male God” will take place mainly in Shanghai from November 2015 to February 2016. They will also be filming in Seoul for about two weeks to film the birth story of the lead. The drama will also include some exciting action scenes such as flying cars, chases, car crashes, and falling off a cliff. These action scenes are expected to be completed by the Korean team in South Korea.
Although there is close cooperation with South Korea on the skill level, the producer emphasized that “My Male God” is a Chinese drama that is primarily targeted at the China audience. Its concept and tone will “have to include the element of idols, comedy and unexpected plot changes to give audiences a relaxing, happy and warm feeling”. Filming of the drama has not commenced yet, but the drama has been confirmed to air on a major China TV station.
*Note: “My Male God” is the literal translation of the Chinese title. The drama does not have an official English title yet.
8 November Update:
It appears that “Mr Right” will be the drama’s official English title.
Credit: 新浪电视 weibo