In recent days, a TV series called The Age of Awakening has become popular among young people. Being part of Faith Makes Great, a project celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the Founding of the Communist Party of China (CPC), the NRTA (National Radio and Television Administration) production has been broadcast on China Central Television's (CCTV) prime time since February 1 while being available on online streaming platforms including iQiyi and Youku. It was rated 9.3 points out of 10 on Douban, a reputable online forum, and snatched best actor, best director, and best original screenwriter at the 27th Shanghai TV Festival Magnolia Awards. It has brought a massive number of people in front of TV, taken them to the filming locations and unleashed their buying power for relevant merchandise.
The Answer of Time, a big TV show created by the NRTA and made by Dragon TV of Shanghai Media Group, is another winner. It is currently being broadcast on Dragon TV. After the debut, its rating skyrocketed to 1.121, ranking first in special topic programs, while harvesting attention and praise from mainstream media outlets such as the People's Daily and the Net of the Communist Youth League of China.
The 'phenom' of The Age of Awakening proves that the main melody works can not only rekindle the enthusiasm of the public, but also friend a raft for young audiences. During its filming, Director Zhang Yongxin asked the actors not only to act like characters, but also to play lively. Through the camera lens, the grand historical events are combined with the characters' life details and emotional fluctuations, making the characters supple and the plot vivid.
The popularity of The Age of Awakening and Answer of Time have made the industry realize that high-quality works of the main melody can also detonate the market. Looking back on the film and television market in recent years, a series of works such as No War in Peking, Towards the Republic, Bright Sword have also achieved palpable echoes.
At the filming of The Age of Awakening, each profession was tasked with their own research project. Their common goal is to capture and recreate a China a century ago. In this regard, the crew designed and built hundreds of scenes, and Zhang was almost wayward when it came to mirroring the history. Thanks to such unwavering pursuit, the quality of the series was secured. The explosive popularity not only received high ratings and good reputation, but also launched a red tourism frenzy. The Red House of Peking University, the former residence of Li Dazhao, the former site of the editorial office of the New Youth Magazine and even the Dongxing Building have all become must-visit places. The cultural and creative products derived from The Age of Awakening are also very popular, including canvas bags with the cover of New Youth, notebooks with the words New Youth, stickers of Lu Xun's famous quotes, pencil bags with the name of Lu Xun's works, enthusiastically dubbed as "the most hardcore official merchandise" by the fans.
The characters of The Answer of Time were carefully selected and portrayed in depth to ensure the authenticity and vividness of the story. It also has strict requirements for the actors involved. They need to face two different interpretations as in film/television and on-stage theater, and the time frame for completion is also very tight. Producer Chen Chen introduced that each actor has only two days to perform, divided into stage and TV/film performances, and needs a seamless connection of emotions. In parallel, Answer of Time was innovated in the narrative mode. Each episode of the program focuses on a human quality and carries on conversation that spans two distant periods of time, forming a kind of "time-space connection". For example, the first episode of the program focuses on the quality of loyalty, connecting two loyal communists, one from the mountain city of Chongqing 80 years ago and the other from the Pamirs 80 years later. In order to reenact these two characters who epitomize the qualities of communists, the creative team interviewed more than a dozen party historians across the country in merely a few months, read a lot of reports and party history files, and visited some red landmarks including Zunyi, Yan'an, Lankao to capture the core of each character for artistic creation. At the same time, during the filming of The Answer of Time, the production team used visual effects of new media, starting from individual characters, and relying on a large number of authentic videos, texts, photos and other materials to show their deeds in film/TV presentations and on stage theater. In a bid to lead the audience to return to the historical scene and relive the story of the revolution, the team also tried to restore the heart and enrich the details in the true oral accounts of the witnesses or historians.
How to create a main melody program and make 100 years' of CPC history understandable, accessible and resonant to the audience is a true test. It is not easy to answer, but as long as you do it with your heart, you will surely get a wonderful answer.