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Unbridled creative force: director Ding Yuchen 干一行,爱一行:丁雨晨


Ding Yuchen 丁雨晨

In a short span of three years, Ding Yuchen managed to become one of the most sought-after Chinese advertising directors. Take a look at the credits of recent commercial films that epitomize trending mixture of storytelling and fresh, fashionable visuals—from Huawei, to Oppo and L’Oreal, Ding Yuchen is the name you’ll see a lot. When SHP+ met the young hotshot director, he modestly attributed this success to pure luck. Perhaps. But when he also admits, that he considers shooting 20-25 spots this year so far as a slowdown, compared to nearly 40 projects he finished last year, it indicates that there’s for sure more than one element to his burgeoning career.


Our conversation starts with a revelation. Contrary to our experience, Ding praises local companies over international ones for commitment to the final product. Based on his experience, international companies streamline the production process very professionally, but what’s missing in this mature business model is their own vision about the final cut. Local companies, on the other hand, don’t carry out the process as professionally, but they are very focused on contributing something of their own. It seems, that this young generation of producers Ding works with, value and push Chinese creativity to increasing its global influence.


OPPO 奇幻新年

“Strictly in technical aspect, we’re not that behind. But if you look at the Chinese ads, it’s like an import: you see traces of Japanese commercials, Thai commercials, American commercials. What’s lacking is a cultural code, a distinctive Chinese identity that can influence global advertising industry”, shares Ding. When asked about his distinctive style, Ding says he’s not sure if having a particular style is a good thing, but his works share one thing in common— a dramatic insight.

“其实在一个标准的工业技术上我们没有那么落后,但是但当你纵观中国广告都是一个舶来品, 都是你能看到日本的广告影子,泰国广告和美国广告的影子。这里缺少的是文化符码,一种中国独有的,能影响全球广告产业的独特风格”丁雨晨说到。当问到他个人有什么独有的风格时,丁雨晨坦言,他不太确定拥有某种独家风格到底算不算一件好事,但他的作品都有一个共同点 —— 洞察深刻,富有戏剧化的情节。

Having come to commercial filmmaking by a series of coincidences through studying media and later acting in ads, Ding has a flair for theatrical/dramatic insight. That’s what all his work share in common: with every script, he finds ways to express abstract concepts through the actions of characters in the spot. Another aspect, important to this director is transmitting some cultural element, and one particular spot on his real to date that does this is award-winning Union Pay mini film about the last transaction of western Tang Empire. There’s depth to it, and historical facts, unknown to many Chinese people, proving that although being part of mainstream culture, commercial films have the ability to tell bigger stories.



Ding takes his time, occasionally going deep into his thoughts to answer questions, shifting between English and Chinese, so our conversation takes several unexpected turns. That’s how we end up discussing Wuxia, Libai, and fate. He strings together scattered impressions and spinning ideas about his trip to Sichuan, and how stopped in his tracks near a high waterfall, an impulse to make a project on famous Chinese poet, perhaps in martial arts aesthetics of Wuxia, has come to him. “Sometimes you get a feeling that creatives have one work, one case, that is destined for them to do. So Li Bai is in my path. It will happen”, says Ding.


Another thing about his future, Ding’s quite confident about is that he won’t be only advertising director forever. Even though, unlike many people, he doesn’t see directing commercial films as a “springboard that catapults you to feature film shooting”, that’s the direction he’s eyeing too. “Ads are forgotten too quickly. I hope the work I do now can influence people right now, and if I keep doing that, the “right now” extends to the future. If I touch a deep, complex topic that will need 2 hours to express, I’ll turn to feature film. But I won’t abandon advertising completely. It’s a format that allows me to communicate with the audience faster, even though not transmitting purely my own ideas, but somewhat hiding them inside”.


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