Creating and developing original factual, reality and wildlife based content in Western China and beyond
Adrian Bottomley discusses the region's huge potential and a few of the exciting conceptual and production ideas that we are currently working on (and seeking collaboration for) in China.
Over many years, I have been fortunate to travel and live among the spectacular landscapes and diverse cultures of western China. Along the way, many doors were opened that would otherwise have been closed to outsiders and provided inspiration for the conceptualizion and development of a number of our own production and branding ideas.
Indeed, the remarkable topography, esoteric festivals and fabled plants and animals that inhabit the wild West of China, offer a huge reservoir of potentially captivating content. From the colourful Cham dances and blue poppies of the Tibetan plateau, to the snow leopards that roam it's sacred peaks - the region is quite possibly one of the most misunderstood on the planet. Indeed, it never ceases to amaze me how far removed the reality of this region is from most people's perceptions of it.
By way of example, on a recent location scouting trip to a remote range along the Sichuan/Qinghai border we discovered a labyrinth of sacred peaks that are home to over 130 lakes, 700 varieties of flowers (including seven species of poppy, one of which is completely endemic to these mountains), over 170 species of birds (including the rare Tibetan Bunting and Black-necked Crane) and about forty snow leopard. Most intriguingly of all perhaps, in the pristine forests that fringe the southern end of the range - lives it's even more elusive and endangered clouded cousin.
Now to some nitty gritty. As you will appreciate, I would rather not divulge all the wherewithall with regards to our ongoing projects, but in the hope of sparking some initial interest and feedback from potential collaborators, here are the basic conceptual frameworks for some of them.
TV/Film: Where Four Rivers Roar
The aim of this unique and exciting project will be to attempt, and document, the first full expeditionary traverse of what is the most prolific temperate biosphere on earth - the Four Parallel Rivers Of Yunnan, China - where the upper reaches of the mighty Yangste, Mekong, Salween and Irrawaddy Rivers tumble down from the Tibetan plateau and confluence in a region of spectacular beauty and diversity.
The opportunity to explore themes around conservation, the environmental impact of rapid development, unique botanical endemism, minority cultures and pure exploratory adventure are extraordinary.
Most Tibetans believe that their natural landscapes are imbued with spiritual power and that in certain revered places, metaphysical deities also reside in natural forms. Throughout the eastern Tibetan plateau this has created a number of eco-sacred systems where local Buddhist beliefs have provided sanctuary to some of the most endangered animals and plants on the planet.
Focusing initially on two remote ranges, this concept would document the endangered wildlife in each of these sanctuaries and explore the cultural and spiritual backstory that has allowed local populations of brown bears, snow leopard, clouded leopard, wolves, lynx, pallas cats and black-necked crane to continue to roam free.
One of these ranges in particular, is arguably only second to Africa in terms of the number of large mammal predators that inhabit the area. As above we are happy to share a full brief with any interested parties serious about collaborating on this project.
TV/Film: The Lost Kora
In the far west of Sichuan, along the T.A.R border, there is an ancient mega-kora (or pilgrimage route) that has sadly largely been confined to history. In 2015, I learnt of two older members of a remote Tibetan community who still remember the route, through sacred peaks and lakes, and who would be prepared to re-trace the pilgrimage once more.
In the local monastic college, I also met a young Tulku (a re-incarnate of a famous historical lama), who speaks good English, and who is also interested in re-tracing the pilgrimage route that his forbears would have undertaken over the centuries.
So, again there are opportunities to develop many factual, cultural and transformational themes around the exploration and re-tracing of the ancient route - and how it is slowly being lost to time and ongoing economic and societal developments. Trekking with a Tulku also obviously provides an interesting angle. Again we are happy to share a full brief with any interested parties serious about collaborating on this project.
Brands: Discover Another Side Of China
Western China provides an epic backdrop and creative landscape from which to conceptualise and shape ground-breaking ideas that can help identify boutique international brands with unique and impactful stories on the ground. So why not develop, stage and film your next branding concept in-country and more powerfully align your product with the land and it's consumers?
Likewise, for emerging Chinese brands, we are keen to develop a number of creative ideas that are rooted in the spectacular beauty and culture of the region, that will enable international consumers to discover and experience another side of China, thereby breaking down misplaced, preconceived notions of the country and its home-grown products.