Not all plays and movies can be goodbye mr. loser.

Poster of "Donkey’s Water"

Special feature of 1905 film network Mahua FunAge’s second film, The Water of the Donkey, was released last Friday. This low-cost film, which has no big director, no stars and no special effects, has actually held the first place in the box office, and has been well received. Some people even call it the best domestic feature film this year.


After "Charlotte" and "Donkey’s Water", there will definitely be more and more film and television companies aiming at drama adaptation of this IP pond. A few days ago, Rao Xiaozhi’s "Hello, Crazy" just held a final release conference in Peking University Centennial Lecture Hall; Ying Huang’s "French Dinner for Two" also appeared in the project announcement of the Film Bureau in early October, which is likely to become the third film produced by Mahua FunAge; Earlier, it was reported that the drama "Treasure Island Village" co-produced by Lai Shengchuan and Wang Weizhong will also be made into a movie.

Lai Shengchuan, known as the "leader of Asian theater directors", and Wang Weizhong, the "father of Taiwan Province variety", collaborated on "Treasure Island Village"

In the face of a new wave of drama adaptation, we interviewed Zhou Shen and Liu Lu, two directors of "The Water of the Donkey", and Mr. Zhang Chiyu, the screenwriter of Mahua FunAge’s drama "The Iron Fist of Shame" and "The Story of a Prison Friend", to talk about the advantages and sufferings of drama adaptation.


Drama and movies have become the most familiar strangers.

Both drama and film are diachronic arts, both lasting about two hours, and the process of adaptation is basically 1:1 presentation. Commercial films are generally arranged in four stages: beginning, turning point, crisis and ending. The most classic drama is also a four-act play, so the rhythm of the two is very similar, and it is easier to realize transformation. From this point of view, it is less difficult to adapt a drama into a film than a literary adaptation, or even less difficult to film a TV series and an online drama.


The performance systems of the two schools are the same, and they are divided into two schools: one is the Experiential School of stanislavski in the former Soviet Union, and the other is expressionism in Brecht. The French New Wave movies, represented by Ge Daer, like to break the fourth wall and let the actors perform in front of the camera, which comes from Brecht’s expressionism. Therefore, it is easier to adapt drama to film at the performance level.


Director and screenwriter Zhang Chiyu of Mahua FunAge

Dramatic works have experienced the tempering of the stage. Zhang Chiyu concluded that Mahua FunAge’s core creative mode is collective creation and rehearsal audition. This is actually the mode adopted by most drama groups. At the beginning of a work, the director puts forward the general idea, and then all the actors work together to improve it and create collectively. After the script comes out, it has to be rehearsed, revised while arranging, and further improved through internal audition. Zhang Chiyu believes that the rehearsal plays a very important role in promoting the script. "If a book was originally only four points, it can reach at least six points after rehearsal." After a long stage performance, the script is improved day by day according to the feedback from the audience. In this way, the works tested by the audience are put on the big screen, and the success rate is higher.

The adaptation of a drama into a film has to go over more than one hill.

Although there is a natural affinity between drama and film, which makes it easy to transform them, they are two completely different art forms after all, and they will encounter many problems and difficulties in the process of remake.


Some drama themes are not suitable for adaptation into movies. For example, the earliest film project planned by Mahua FunAge is actually not Charlotte, but Earl of Wulong Mountain. However, this drama does not quite conform to the structure of genre films, and the content involved is sensitive and easy to fail the review. For example, the heroine is a transgender, the first half is a man, and the second half is a woman, which is not suitable for adaptation into a movie.


The influence of Earl of Wulongshan once spread to CCTV.

Drama emphasizes hypothesis, while film emphasizes realism. As Zhou Shen said, "Some things are true on the stage of drama, but they are not true in front of the camera of the film." Therefore, the stage is more inclusive, and the exaggerated burden and crazy creativity will not make people question. For example, in "Shameless Iron Fist", the heroine played by Mary came out of the toilet, which the audience might not accept in the movie. Therefore, in the second half of the film, some crazy plots were deleted to make it closer to reality. Therefore, hypothesis is often the primary problem to be overcome in the process of adapting drama into film.


Movies adapted from drama are often weak in lens and editing, and the "film sense" is not very strong. There are similar problems in "Charlotte" and "Donkey Water", which rely too much on fixed shots and scene scheduling, and are immature in the use of shots and clips, and only stay at the narrative level. All this needs to be overcome by the director’s accumulation of shooting experience and long-term exploration.

Facts have proved that from drama to film adaptation, love and hate are in an instant.

1. The Water of the Donkey (2016)

Zhou Shen and Liu Lu graduated from Chinese opera directing, and their major dramas include If I’m Not Me, Water from the Donkey, Biography of Van Gogh and so on. The water of the donkey was originally a movie outline created by them in 2010. Because of infringement, Zhou Shen and Liu Lu arranged the water of the donkey into a drama in order to make it meet the audience faster. Unexpectedly, it became an instant hit in the commercial drama circle, gained a good reputation and box office, and was staged in Chaoyang 9 Theater for five consecutive years.


Director and screenwriter Zhou Shen and Liu Lu of the film "The Water of the Donkey"

Zhou Shen and Liu Lu never gave up the idea of making "The Water of the Donkey" into a movie. They took the script to many film companies, but they didn’t make it because of their insistence on their works, and the most serious one almost went to court. Finally, I chose to cooperate with Mahua FunAge because Mahua is very tolerant in creation and has a high tolerance for creators. However, compared with the IP of Mahua, the film is too cold and has no popular commercial elements at present. Therefore, although Mahua has great confidence in it, it does not have high box office expectations, and it is not expected to achieve the box office results of goodbye mr. loser.


The film adaptation of "The Water of the Donkey" should be regarded as relatively successful. The second half of the drama is a little long, and the whole stage is almost out of control, getting crazier and darker, which makes the audience breathless. These problems have been solved in the film, and the media transformation of the original drama actors has been completed well, although the photography and editing of the film need to be strengthened.

2. goodbye mr. loser (2015)

Mahua FunAge was founded in 2003, and his first work is "I’ll give you a twist if I want to eat", starring He Jiong and Nana. Until the Earl of Wulong Mountain in 2011, Mahua gradually formed its own comedy style and brand. At the end of each year, Mahua will launch a New Year’s comedy, and their works are between traditional drama and movies: they don’t follow the classic "three unifications", and they frequently hide behind the scenes and change scenes, which is somewhat similar to the transitions and editing of movies. This makes their works more suitable for film adaptation.


Goodbye mr. loser directed by Yan Fei and Peng Damo.

Yan Fei and Peng Damo first wrote "Charlotte" just to make a movie. Unexpectedly, it has become the most successful drama of Mahua, which has reached the 33rd round in Beijing and has also toured many cities in China. Although the film version of "Charlotte" rose suddenly and won a great victory last year, its shortcomings are also very obvious. Most people who have seen the drama think that the film version is not as good as the drama version. The main reason is that the film has simplified many details, which makes the plot in the second half of the film not coherent enough and looks a bit like a sketch.


3. Gorgeous Office Workers (2015)

The Gorgeous Office Worker, which was released last year, was adapted from Lin Yihua’s musical Life and Survival of Gorgeous Office Workers. Lin Yihua is the most famous drama director in Hongkong, and his main work is the adaptation of Four Great Classical Novels. The film version is directed by Du Qifeng, starring Zhang Aijia, Chow Yun Fat, Eason Chan, Tang Wei, etc. Zhang Shuping contributed gorgeous dance beauty and costumes, while Tayu Lo was responsible for original music. However, the luxurious lineup and hundreds of millions of investments only brought in less than 50 million box office.


The main reason is that the film fails to deal with the relationship between the assumption of the stage and the realism of the film. "Workplace", which is very realistic and suitable for adaptation into a movie theme, has been turned into a staged musical by the director, with symbolic characters, ritualized songs and dances, and conceptual scenes, and there is no real scene at all. All of them are filmed in the shed, and with the performances of actors sometimes dubbing and sometimes lip-synching, it is really difficult for people to have a sense of substitution, and they can simply dance in minutes.

4. Twelve Citizens (2015)

There were many versions of Twelve Citizens before, including film version and drama version, and now the Shanghai Drama Art Center is still putting on a stage version of Twelve People. Xu Ang, the director of Twelve Citizens, is the drama director of People’s Art Theatre, and his masterpiece is The Sorrow of Comedy starring Chen Daoming and He Bing. This film also absorbs the old drama bones of a number of drama stages, such as He Bing, Han Tongsheng and Qian Bo, who are all excellent drama actors.


The story "Twelve Citizens" is actually very suitable for the drama stage, because it is extremely complex with "three unifications" and the time, place and plot are highly unified. Tell the story of twelve jurors discussing the case in a room for two hours. Therefore, it is very difficult to adapt this story into a movie, and the fixed scenes and characters are easy to make movie audiences tired. But the completion of the film is still very good. First of all, it completes the localization of the script well, which makes the story neutral in the contemporary social background of China. Secondly, the director took advantage of photography to highlight some details, such as the band-aid on He Bing’s head, the sweat behind Gao Dongping, and so on, which made enough intriguing foreshadowing.


5. (2014) (2015)


Both films directed by Deng Chao and Yu Baimei are adapted from the drama of the same name by Bai Mei Studio. Deng Chao met Yu Baimei through his senior graduation work "Cui Hua, Pickled Sauerkraut". Later, the two became good friends, and they also engaged in drama together. Now public opinion generally believes that the two films they directed are 100% rotten films.


In fact, these two works are typical farce on the stage of drama, but this does not prevent them from being loved by the audience. Although the style is not high, they are vivid and funny. Because the stage of drama is more inclusive, their exaggerated jokes are easily accepted by the audience. However, it was different after being put on the movie screen, and their exaggeration was further expanded, which eventually led to the disgust of the audience.


In a word, although drama is rich in IP resources, there are many convenient conditions for drama adaptation of movies. However, the transformation from one art form to another is not simply copying and pasting. It is necessary to dig deep into the core and spiritual connotation of the story according to the characteristics of different media and break the boundaries of different art forms. Only in this way can we create a well-known work, and we hope that the works adapted from drama to film will get better and better.