Danwen Lei sees her role as a film producer as the person responsible for delivering the material that both entertains and resonates with an audience. In doing this, she finds impactful scripts and ensures they come to fruition by finding the right team and funding to take words on a page and bring them to life, then ensures that the finished product heads to festivals and theatres around the world to be enjoyed by the masses. It is no easy task, but one she loves.
“As a producer, I do not only deal with practical productions, but also initiate story ideas, give creative advice and notes to help better shape a story, use as many resources as I can find to make it into a motion picture and sell it. It’s like running a restaurant, my job is to find out the food that people love and sell the best (looking for good content), work on the menu and hire the best chefs (produce a good film with a professional team), and serve the food to my customers (sell the film and release it on big screens),” she said.
Well if Lei was running a restaurant, she’d undoubtedly have rave reviews, because she is a celebrated producer in both her home country of China and abroad for her work on award-winning films like Where The Dream Begins and Gold Fortune, the last of which was invited to screen at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing after winning awards from many film festivals.
“Having Gold Fortune screen at the U.S. Embassy was undoubtedly a highlight of my career. I still remember all the difficulties of producing it, and this special screening is like a recognition of my success,” said Lei.
2020 promises to be quite exciting for Lei as well, as her newest movie, Forever Passion, is set to premiere in the latter half of the year. This anticipated feature film was shot in mainland China in June, 2019 with female lead Kelly Yu, a famous Chinese Canadian singer/actress who also plays the lead role in The Ex-File 3: The Return of the Exes that earned ¥1.9 billion in China in 2018, with male lead Ning Song, who starred in the award-winning film Love Education, which was directed by Chinese Taiwanese actress/director Sylvia Chang.
“In the beginning, this story is about a young female singer’s life changes, as her long-time frustration of not achieving fame comes to an end when she meets a boy who used to be a singer but now suffers from ALS. However, when we see the final cut, the audience discovers that the story is actually about how to maintain unbiased opinions even if there are bad things in our lives. What is more important than realizing a dream and getting rewarded is one’s insistence on doing what they love. Once we learn to balance what we want and what we need, problems will be sorted out,” said Lei.
Lei was a Producer for Forever Passion, and is proud to have contributed so greatly to the film. During pre-production, she led many important production meetings with all team members and department leads, made and adapted the whole production schedule based on the location changes and the lead actors’ schedule, and helped the director communicate with the music director as there were more than 10 original songs involved in the story. During the production, she scheduled the company move for all 120 crew members among three big cities. On set, she served as the person who connected the producing team and the director, helping to solve budget and schedule emergencies for all departments. Later, working on the final cut and the marketing plan, Lei also brought up the main theme that would resonate with the audience. She helped her team find the target audience and the direction of promotions, creating a lot of buzz for the film around China. She had many pivotal responsibilities and was more than up for each and every task.
“I like how I was challenged in working on the project, how I solved different problems, production emergencies and ended up building a better network with my team and crew after I overcame the problems. It feels amazing as I used to be afraid of facing problems, but not anymore after this project,” she said.
Forever Passion will have its world premiere in Beijing in late 2020. Be sure to keep an eye out for it at a theater near you.