Producing Films Online in China: The Development of Collaborative Platforms for Emerging Creative Talents

在中國製作電影: 發展新興創意人才協作平台

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

View graph of relations


Related Research Unit(s)


Awarding Institution
Award date31 Aug 2018


The entry of China in the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001 marked its growing integration into the global economy. After its WTO accession, the central government, some selected online companies, and the creative industries have collaborated to form the largest online film circulation platforms in the world such as iQiyi (under the umbrella of Baidu), Tencent Video, LeTV, or Youku Tudou (with Alibaba as owner) with hundreds of millions of Internet and mobile viewers.

Meanwhile, China's political-economic system has remained under the control of the Chinese Government. The monitoring of online content has increased. This has resulted in the shutdown of foreign competitors (such as YouTube) and local pirate online platforms. While replicating almost all of the successful Western start-up models such as Google, Facebook, YouTube or Amazon, China has nurtured its own champions including Alibaba, Youku Tudou, Baidu, and Tencent. China has also been developing cutting-edge blockchain and smart contract decentralised technologies such as NEO at a rapid pace.

Blockchain and smart contract technologies have increased tenfold over the past few months from a total market capitalisation of US$10 billion to over US$100 billion in July 2017 (Shin 2017), mostly through crowdfunding. This unprecedented phenomenon has contributed to generate dozens of creative concepts, raising between US$30 million to over US$300 million in Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs).

However, despite all these converging developments, the Chinese creative industries and the central government have not yet developed and supported an independent creative crowdfunding / crowdsourcing system like US-based Kickstarter or Indiegogo to finance, produce, promote and circulate film and creative works online.

In this context, the present study will answer the following key research questions: Can there be a distributed online-based participatory system of independent creative production in China where the government, the industry, and the audience can all contribute and benefit? Are platforms such as Youku Tudou (YT), NEO, Alibaba's Yulebao, and Zhongchou preliminary steps in this direction? What are the basic characteristics and key issues of such a system, especially in relation to the Internet and mobile film circulation and the involvement and interaction of the young urban audiences in China? Beyond this, how can such notions as IP, piracy, value and collective creativity be redefined in the networked economy?

Based on film production and online platform case studies as well as primary data collected from urban China, this research proposes to discuss key questions about the development and the adoption of new digital platforms - Such as the implications for the future of copyright and the production of creative content which circulates on these distribution windows in China.

Beyond these points, this research also observes the change in media consciousness amongst the young urban Chinese audiences' and the emergence of a participatory and creative online community. This research proposes solutions on how these young local creative talents can be identified and supported early on particularly within new disintermediated and distributed crowdfunding / crowdsourcing online ecosystems.

    Research areas

  • China, Alibaba Pictures, Youku Tudou, Yulebao, Zhongchou, P2P, Blockchain Technology, smart contracts, Tokenisation, Bitcoin, Cardano, Ethereum, NEO, cryptocurrencies, distributed production systems, decentralised production systems, creative audiences, emerging creative talent, creative industries, censorship, copyrights, Intellectual property, IP, crowdfunding, crowdsourcing, digital technology, digital filmmaking, film finance, film production, film distribution, film circulation, online media conglomerates, platformisation, piracy, political economy, World Trade Organization, WTO, young urban audiences, value in creative productions and filmmaking