I will speak at AmCham panel on “Creating Film and TV Content for Audiences in Both China and the US”

AmCham China’s Media & Entertainment Forum in Beijing kicks off this year’s activities with a March 18 panel discussion on Film and TV content. Forum Chair Mathew Alderson of Harris Moure Attorneys will lead the panel, joined by Daniel Manwaring (CAA), Joe Wong (Talkshow host and known comedian) and myself, to walk you through the issues faced by creatives and producers when developing content suitable for audiences in both China and the US.

For more info and to RSVP, visit http://www.amchamchina.org/event/2012#sthash.XDM4HQ7e.dpuf

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Festival of German Cinema in China, Oct 12-26, 2013

Watch out for, attend and spread the news about the first ever Festival of German Cinema in China. From Oct 12-26 we’ll show 15 films across 4 cities in China. For more info, screening dates and locations please visit http://www.festivalofgermancinema.com.

Festival of German Cinema Poster

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Introducing the monkey that controls the Chinese Internet (from China Daily Show)

While I am contemplating about my next story, I would like to refer you to one of my favorite articles from the “China Daily Show” website. The reason for mentioning this here and now is that China’s Internet, which is already slow enough as it is, seems to have re-entered the “politics” mode since the National People’s Congress started convening this week.

The “politics” mode means, in basic terms:

  • Webpage loading times of up to 10-15 minutes;
  • You having to hit your Gmail “send” button an average of seven times before your email goes out;
  • Work efficiency decreasing by at least 30%;
  • and last but not least, me going crazy…!

Hence, allow me to use this opportunity to introduce to you the monkey that controls the Chinese Internet: Rascals.

Rascals-202x300

The respective article on China Daily Show can be accessed here.

For further reading about how politics here not only trump business but also common sense you may also want to check out my recent post Cut the Crap!

Enjoy!

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My sexual post on WordPress. Please e-nail me if you like it!

I signed up for an online dating site – OkCupid. Lusciously, like a half-naked dancer, a Chinese girl twirls across her profile pictures, and with temptation engulfing her bedroom eyes she whispers, no she shouts! at me, “Check out my profile, white-skinned, blue-eyed, affluent foreigner!”

Her self-introduction tells she works as a censor in China’s Internet industry. Then she brags about how awesome and professionally successful she is. “I held a presentation in front of the UN!” While I am evaluating whether “Hi, I think you need to censor the dreams I’ve been having about you!” may serve as a promising opening line vis-à-vis someone working as a censor, I click through her answers to various questions that presumably allow the site to determine how good of a match my dirty mind and her censorship are.

The sophistication of fate wants it that OkCupid first displays her answers to the two questions “Which is bigger – The earth or the sun?” and “Rate your self-confidence” (the top answers are hers; you can click on the picture to enlarge it).

OkCupid Screenshot

 

 

 

 

UN, the earth, very very high. Mmmhh, Honey. I really hope your presentation in front of the UN wasn’t about the solar system. Rather than sending her my opening line, I send her a message saying, “Hi, I’m Chris Coyne, one of the creators of OkCupid. I apologize for that our system encountered an error when processing your registration. Please delete your account here and sign up on OkStupid.

If I myself opened up an online dating site I’d call it E-nail.com. Self-confident girls with a firm belief in the superiority of earth and gorgeous boys with a firm belief in the size of their genitals but no astronomical knowledge whatsoever, all sitting on your screen in lascivious poses, breathing “please e-nail me” into your ears, or, in a more rhymenocerously fashion, “if you like what you see, please e-nail me.” Junk e-nails would end up in your sperm folder.

By now this post is sexual, rated ‘R’ and has given up any attempt at holding up moral standards. This moral decay, God bless, may allow me to here, in this already sexual context, ask a question that’s been haunting me ever since my first and hitherto only travel to Vietnam a few years ago. Almost everywhere you go in this country, hookers and dirty men trying to hook you up with hookers endlessly inquire as to your interest in engaging in a so-called boom-boom. Having grown up in Germany and in an era in which Germans nicknamed their favorite and best tennis player Boom Boom Boris, I commonly associate any form of boom-boom with tennis. I assume these street workers must have rated their self-confidence as “very, very high” on OkCupid if they believe they can beat me in a game of tennis just wearing high heels.

But seriously, and here’s my question… who in the world decided that boom-boom would or should be the widely accepted slang for sex? Some genius must have used the term first, before it stood the practicality test and spread like wildfire. I’d like to meet the inventor of boom-boom, just as I want to meet the sleepy genius who invented the snooze button and the Canadian soldier who, facing one of the first chlorine gas attacks in World War I, stood up from his trench, took off one of his socks, placidly urinated onto it and then held it up to his mouth to start breathing through it. Imagine his entrenched fellow soldiers: “Dude, WTF, we’re being boom-boomed with gas and you nutcase have nothing better to do than to piss onto your freaking socks?!?”, not realizing that their nutcase colleague had just, cool as a cucumber, designed a way to reduce the effects of the gas and, effectively, pissed Canada’s path to survival.

The inventor of boom-boom surely encountered similar blank faces when first using the term, with people thinking he might have had an accident or something. After it became clear, however, that boom-boom was semantically designed to refer to sex, Vietnam was quick to develop a product to prevent sexual accidents, the condom, and launched it under the name boombox, which would eventually lead to intense trademark fights with the US music industry, and in turn, after an easy solution could not be found, led the US’ to drastically scale down troop support in South Vietnam in the mid-1970s.

Getting back to China… There’s been ridiculous amounts of boom-boom in China over the last two weeks, too, due to the Chinese celebrating the arrival of the Year of the Snake with endless rounds of fireworks. Restrictions, if one may even call them so, on when and where to shoot are few and far between (see picture below)…

Fireworks Regulations CNY 2013

…so everyone’s been boom-booming like crazy.

Everyone but me…!!!

Why?

For one, I don’t like fireworks.

For two, on the sexual side of boom-boom, things have been kind of slow ever since I received a message from OkCupid stating I had misused the identity of Chris Coyne, one of the creators of OkCupid, and my account would thus be deleted.

That was five weeks ago.

Today, I received a promotional message from E-nail.com prompting me to answer the following question… Scary! As if E-Nail knew of my sexual deprivation…

Which is Bigger_Earth Sun Balls

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Cut the Crap!

Last week I bought a remote-controlled toy helicopter, attached to it a piece of paper with the words “DON’T FEED SPRITE TO BEARS”, and then threw my helicopter-message construction out of a cab’s passenger window. Just to make a statement. But let me back up…

A few months ago I visited the Beijing Zoo. A big sign stating “Please don’t feed us, we will get diarrhea if you do!” greets me at the bears area. I pass a couple bears, cute but lazy, including a snow bear, whose crap my ex-girlfriend, a biology student at the time, would always cut into slices for scientific bear-crap analysis. I am uncertain whether a snow bear with diarrhea would have complicated or facilitated her work, but we separated before I could raise that question.

Diarrhea or not, the snow bear is way too lazy and uninspired today to interest the hordes of Chinese tourists who are flooding the zoo in search of excitement. No one but me seems to even take notice of it. Instead, everyone flocks to a different vivarium about 100 meters down the road of bears. I walk over to join around 200 Chinese parents, grandparents and children, all giggling, pointing and screaming in excitement at the sight of the…

Brown bear. The brown bear really figured out how to excite the Beijing crowds. I feel a little embarrassed but nonetheless intrigued as I watch the brown bear, this majestic salmon-catching king of the wild, do a little dance and pawn-waving towards its audience, which then, in delighted appreciation of the bear’s performance, hurls scores of sausages and pours bottles of Sprite into the cage. The bear, in delighted appreciation of the audience’s performance, happily catches the sausage storm out of mid-air and then moves closer to let the Sprite pour directly into its wide-open mouth.

Thank God I made my helicopter-message statement last week. This week I couldn’t have done it anymore. In the lead-up to the political leadership change, bound to take place in mid-November, Beijing has implemented the following regulations, among others, to mitigate the risk of having troublemakers throw sausages at the event and put a dent into the façade of peace and harmony:

1. All Beijing taxi drivers must remove window handles on the doors at passengers’ and rear seats so that no passenger can open the windows and throw sausages. Below a picture from inside the cab I took yesterday.

2. All Beijing taxi drivers must stay on guard against passengers who bring with them ball-like objects in case they attach slogans to balloons or throw around ping-pong balls with reactionary wording.

3. Anyone that purchases remote-controlled toy helicopters must be ID’ed as per the directive from the local public security bureau.

4. No knives may be sold.

In the spirit of intercultural competency, I am trying to mentally transfer the situation to the West. A Wal-Mart, somewhere in the US.

Sales clerk: “I’m sorry, Sir, but you can’t have that toy helicopter there.”

My five-year old boy, his birthday tomorrow, is close to tears and looks at me with big eyes for his dad to fulfill his biggest birthday wish. I am ready to fight: “Excuse me, Sir, but…”

Sales clerk: “There’s nothing I can do for you, Sir. You know, it’s Obama against Romney on the 6th…”

Damn it. To make up for it, I buy a basketball for my son, just to be rejected when we try to get a cab home. “Sorry, Sir, but with this ball-like object I really can’t take you.”

Nah, you can’t really imagine the scenario in the US, or anywhere else for that matter.

I think next week I’m gonna buy a remote-controlled toy helicopter, attach to it a piece of paper with the words “CUT THE CRAP”, and then steer my helicopter-message construction to land right in front of the door of the Chinese government. “We can’t, Florian”, they might reply, “we don’t have a knife.”

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I will be moderating “The Global Formats Workshops: Meet the Experts from China” at this year’s MIPTV

I will be moderating a panel titled The Global Formats Workshops: Meet the Experts from China in the context of MIPFormats at this year’s MIPTV in Cannes, France. The session will take place on March 30th, 4-450pm. If you attend MIPTV 2012, I’d love to welcome you there!

Please find further information about the event here.

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I decided to make my Chinese driver’s license, or “100 questions about rules that have no real-world application”

Time for another “Ni Hao” from and about life in Beijing.

I decided to make my Chinese driver’s license. Although the regulation “death penalty for driving without license” lost some of its harshness and has been softened to a more humane “15 days in prison”, it still seems to make sense to not engage in too much illegal driving action given that I am contractually only entitled to 15 days of work holidays annually.

In order to prepare me for driving, China’s Ministry for Traffic Management requires me to take a test in traffic theory. 100 questions about rules that have absolutely no real-world application. 90 points or more, I pass. Less than 90 and I fail.

Since my traffic-related Chinese vocabulary is limited, I decide to take the test in English rather than in Chinese. I could take the test in my mother tongue German, too, but friends who did take the test in German ended up mesmerizing at questions such as…

Bei Verletzung von Bauch, wenn Dünndarm vorgefallen ist, soll man A) Dünndarm in Bauch zurücklegen, B) Wunde nicht behandeln, oder C) Dünndarm nicht in Bauch zurücklegen. Die Wunde soll mit Schüssel oder Büsche zugedeckt werden und mit Tuch verbunden werden.

… and thus strongly recommended I tackle the test in its English rather than the German version, since the former is said to be at least somewhat more comprehendible.

Well then, for purposes of preparation I buy an English-language book with around 1,000 questions I might be asked when comes test time. Eventually, I arrive at…

Page 61, Question 2.4.1.3
The hand signal of the traffic police in the picture is ____________.

A. A signal for pulling over
B. An auxiliary signal for turning right
C. A signal for turning left gently
D. A signal for turning right

I’m doing enough guessing about what the Chinese are trying to tell me in my daily work life already, so I instantly decide to consult the book-provided answer sheet rather than guess the type of information this friendly Chinese policeman is trying to convey to me. Answer C is correct: A signal for turning left gently.

I try to memorize the answer by visualization: I gently touch my steering wheel, whisper some friendly words into my car’s ears and we turn gently, very gently in fact, left, around the policeman. It is such a great turn that the policeman even turns his head yet a little further to watch us complete the full turn in all its gentleness.

When I think to have successfully memorized this answer, I gently turn the page, where Question 2.4.1.8, enacted by the same friendly policeman, captures my attention.

The hand signal of the traffic police in the picture is ____________.

A. A signal for pulling over
B. An signal for slowing down
C. An auxiliary signal for stopping
D. A signal for turning right

Correct answer: D. A signal for turning right. HÄÄÄÄ?????

(For those of you trying to figure out whether there’s any difference between above two pictures, rest assured, there’s not…;)

The policeman that just 15 seconds ago turned his head to marvel at my super-gentle left turn straightens his head, pulls out his megaphone and calls me an idiot.

Perplexed I realize, the mind-boggling ambiguity that is such an intrinsic part of every aspect of life and business in China and is said to be a result of the influence of Taoist philosophy under which nothing is certain anyways, does not even stop for traffic rules. No wonder China is a low-trust society, if one can’t even trust the police.

I take a deep sip of my Qingdao beer, shake off my confusion and move on to page 74.

When encountering a blind man on the road, the driver should _________.

For a second I wonder whether the policeman I encountered previously was blind or handicapped in other unfortunate ways, his maybe being unaware of his own gestures, and whether his potential blindness should affect my answer to the question at hand. In any case, I decide to go with answer D, Reduce speed and evade, and I am delighted to find this to be the correct answer. After all, this seems a reasonable action to take when encountering a blind man.

The next rule states that when encountering pedestrians wearing cotton-padded caps or overcoats in winter, the driver should honk and be ready to brake. This seems equally reasonable and understandable. I stick a mental post-it into my brain that should I ever encounter pedestrians wearing cotton-padded caps or overcoats in summertime, I may probably assume these pedestrians are blind and simply had trouble finding the right clothes to wear when they got up in the morning. Hence, I shall in such cases refrain from honking.

Page 85, Question 4.5.1.1
In a rainy day, the vertical distance between vehicles should be __________ longer than on a dry road.

What the …? Vertical distance??? I mean I knew that China is developing skyrocketingly fast, but they already have flying cars??? How in the world am I supposed to launch my 80 horsepower rental Peugeot into the space 1.5 times above the vehicle below me? And even if I did manage, the Ministry for Traffic Management does not offer any advice as to how I should then avoid the drivers that may well be flying around the same height because, as page 94 teaches me, when a driver senses he will inevitably be thrown out of the vehicle, he should violently straighten both his legs to increase the force of being thrown out and jump out of the vehicle.

Well, flying drivers might not be such a big problem after all, because if your legs are violently straightened and therefore probably stiff to the max you cannot be expected to jump anywhere even close to 1.5 times above your vehicle’s height, or jump anywhere for that matter.

Also, I wonder what in the world needs to happen for me to sense that I will inevitably be thrown out of my vehicle… Godzilla? A monstrous fart building up inside of me? Will I just suddenly get an awkward feeling that it might now happen any second? Or is the friendly policeman, through one of his ominous signs, going to warn me that I am at the verge of being rocketed out of my vehicle and that I should therefore get my legs straightened?

At this point I’m tired, bored and fed up with the idea of making my Chinese driving license. I violently throw the preparation book out of my 19th floor apartment window and look out the window to watch the book land right on top of a blind man wearing a cotton-padded cap. The impact of the falling book makes him stumble onto the street and an oncoming police car, honking loudly, swerves to evade the blind man. Right before the police car crashes into a roadside stonewall, I see a police man, his legs straight as a sleeping flamingo’s, rocket out of the car high into the Beijing skies. As he sails past my window, he flips me off. Finally, a clear hand signal!

PS: I successfully defied Chinese logic in late February 2012 and am now proud holder of a Chinese driving license.

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