The traditional structure of production is changing and many production companies in China have been forced to diversify in order to survive, but LostPensivos, which now goes by LP Films, doesn’t feel the crunch. Since the company’s start the team has always had a more experimental mindset. This flexibility has helped them expand each year they’ve been in business and ride out any waves in the production industry and China market.
LP Films team | 罗家文化团队
More than a passion project
LP Films is not new to producing films in China. The original team of three, a fierce Chinese woman and two British filmmakers, quit their day jobs over fourteen years ago to produce a documentary film entitled, A Farewell Song. The documentary is a story based on three elderly Chinese traditional musicians who came out of retirment to perform and make music together. The film took five years to complete. In the meantime they had garnered enough additional small film projects and also plenty of problems issuing company ‘fapiaos’ making the decision to register as an official production company in Shanghai much easier.
罗家文化在中国制作片子已经有些年头了。初创团队只有三人，包括一位中国女强人和两位英国电影人，14年前，三人辞去工作，一起打造了纪录片《阳关三叠》（A Farewell Song），讲述了是中国三位著名的传统音乐家的故事。该片历时五年打造，在这期间，三个人也接了很多小型电影项目，同时却也不得不处理开公司发票的很多问题，于是，三人决定正式在上海注册公司。
While they began as a documentary production house, their show reel is much more diverse. Based in the Shanghai Art Design compound on Caoxi Road, the team is now a mix of twelve Chinese and foreign producers and creatives. Yes, creatives. This is one of LP Films’ unique angles; they are a production company with a bilingual in-house creative team. With most of the creative done in-house, this sets their company structure apart from other production companies. It means they work directly with clients as much as possible, which Executive Producer Luo Tong says “cuts down on the payment delay that some production companies might face when trying to chase money from an agency or client”.
office | 办公室
LP Films did not always have this freedom and authority. They got their start in the commercial film industry by simply taking short video and editing projects from their friends at 4A agencies whose larger vendors didn’t want to take on these seemingly insignificant projects. “We started out as documentary filmmakers so where we excelled was storytelling, and clients liked this” Luo explained.
Over the years LP Films has built strong relationships and now they have more respect when negotiating with clients during the creative process. “Most small production companies” Luo believes, “are scared of standing up to clients but because we are not tied to one brand or project, over the years we have grown the confidence to speak up for ourselves”. Even though they produce videos for brands as recognizable as Disney and Apple, they operate on a system of trust and delivery rather than retainers. Clients are pleased with their results and so projects keep coming through the pipeline.
Team LP | 罗家文化团队
Innovate or die
To stay relevant in a changing production and digital environment is not as simple as it sounds. Creative Director Arthur Jones, however, still excitedly shares about the production and film techniques LP Films has accomplished in the past and those that are just around the corner. The team covers a broad range of production techniques and this helps them to continually impress and better service clients.
When filming for the Special Olympics held in 2007 in Shanghai, the company created new time-lapse techniques that subsequently gained them further recognition in China’s production market. One technique the team created, which is sometimes referred to as hyper lapse now, is where the camera can sweep around in a big 360 degree movement, perfect for showcasing the activity in a giant stadium such as in the case of the Special Olympics. The footage is then condensed from a two hour period of filming into just a few seconds. “The effect of this time-lapse technique was very dramatic” Jones explained, “we had many clients approach us after that who wanted to use the same techniques to present their projects or events”.
罗家文化为2007年上海特奥会制作了作品，打造了一种全新的延时技术，这也让他们在国内制作市场上进一步得到了认可。公司团队打造的一种技术 – 现在有时被称为“hyper lapse”技术，可以让摄像机进行360度扫描，完美地展示诸如体育场等大型场所举办的活动，上海特奥会的场所就是一个例子。两小时的拍摄脚本后续可以压缩至短短的几秒钟。“这种延时技术非常了不起，”罗飞如是说，“特奥会之后，很多客户都找上门，想让我们用同样的技术呈现他们的项目和活动”。
The team also pioneered static time-lapse shots from cameras housed in weatherproof boxes that could record construction projects over months or even years. Later they developed techniques to view the images live and online from what they call the BlackBox set-up. Jones says that “this capability has proved to be a great selling point for clients with long-term large scale construction projects”.
Sugar Tang Video | 糖视频
As the demand for short videos has increased, LP Films started its own short video platform, which they call Sugar Tang Video. They receive no direct monetary benefit from the platform for now but it allows the team to explore what content and strategy makes a short video successful. While they are not strangers to creating videos that have gone viral, a recent video for Porsche had over a million views, and some of their teasers and short films have had even more views, the Sugar Tang Video platform is simply another way for the team to learn and respond to the market’s currently insatiable demand for video content.
This doesn’t mean LP Films is able to throw money around or start projects that are not sustainable or don’t have an audience. “Each project must stand on its own two feet” Jones conveyed. When starting any new project or film, the team sets out to understand the projects viability, fundability, and audience from the very beginning. “We are not making money on one project to then turn around and do an art project that we enjoy. Each project must be marketable and sustainable in its own right”.
LP Films’ adaptability and wide array of production services in some light demonstrates the company’s prescient thinking and of course a bit of luck and good timing. More rigid production companies have struggled because they are not able to adapt their production services to a more demanding and more digital market. When producers might be asked to take stills for a client or produce short teaser films on top of the million dollar TVC, this is where LP Films has rolled with the punches.
The Six | 《六人》
The company’s recent documentary The Six which documents the story of Chinese survivors of the Titanic has gained them international attention, all the while they continue to work on film projects as varied as short videos for new Apple product releases to a documentary charting the construction of a new Raffles City in Chongqing over a three year period.
As the traditional creative industry structure evolves, flexibility of mind and skills is surely key for all players involved. LP Films it seems has found a way to balance itself beautifully in this new mix.