Discovering New Possibilities with Glasscore Entertainment
I’m fascinated by the evolution of entertainment whether it’s the relationship of music artists to platforms like Spotify, the direct communication of celebrities to the general public via social media, or the ability of technology to empower artists of numerous mediums to find an audience on the other side of the planet. It feels as if the opportunity to be artistic is higher than in any other era. There is most certainly a paradigm shift happening in terms of creativity. In regards to film, the unrivaled preeminence of Hollywood has given way to vibrant and exceptional film production around the world; this year’s Oscar award-winning film Parasite is simply the most obvious example. If you’re going to pay attention to film, the perspective demands that it be a global one. When I saw a large amount of dialogue about a new Chinese film which was trending high, I decided to investigate the movie Dragon Scale, or 火线行动 as it’s known in China. What I discovered surprised me and deepened my conviction that the international film community is much more integrated than ever before.
What was revealed about Dragon Scale both affirms and rebukes my assumptions about Hollywood and Chinese films; they are both evolving with assistance from each other rather than simply through competition. Specific to Dragon Scale, this is a result of Glasscore Entertainment located in…you guessed it, Hollywood. Tigran Mutafyan is the award-winning cinematographer who, along with the Glasscore Team, is pursuing the future of filmmaking techniques while retaining the meaningful skillfulness of the craft. One need only to look at the awards Mutafyan has received from film festivals in nearly every corner of the planet to comprehend that he understands the commonality of the human experience which transcends language and culture. This ethos is evident in the work of the entire Glasscore team and it’s a huge part of what attracted the Chinese producers of Dragon Scale to Glasscore in order to help create this film. While talent is a given requirement, it was Glasscore’s innovative production style that made Dragon Scale a reality and the number one trending film in China.
Tig in China
Dragon Scale is an action film starring Tian Yide, Ju Lin, Yang Sen, Wang Yongqiang, Lin Xue, and Zhou Yan. Directed by Eddie Liu (known for his work on Mission: Impossible III, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, and The Karate Kid) and written by the team of Jiang Miaomiao, Wu Yang, Zhang Xiaobei, and Daiwen, the plot involves medical experiments, a secret evil organization, and a conflicted hero. The story may not be especially innovative but the way in which it reached its exceptional final form is. Tigran describes, “This is a Sci-Fi Action movie that requires a lot of stunts and CGI, which is very expensive and hard to do in 15 days of production. The way I organized the shoot and the way we were adjusting the story, when there was no money for certain things was very fast. This is the first time that they [the Chinese production company] collaborated with Glasscore and realized how efficient our company operates on set. For instance, there were tough action shots that were scheduled for 5-6 hours and we were finishing them in 20 minutes. When permits for a nighttime racing scene were not approved, we had to shoot in complete darkness outside of the city with a 3-ton G&E truck package, an incredibly small amount for this scenario.” Capturing this nighttime scene in a ridiculously brief four hours, Glasscore Entertainment completely avoided a potentially disastrous alteration to the budget and schedule.
Though work of this type in creating the film can never be fully understood by the viewing public, an obvious part of the appeal of Dragon Scale is the look of the film. The film possesses a visual value that, at times, is on an even level with some of Hollywood's high budgeted feature films. Much of this rests on the shoulders of Glasscore’s award-winning writer/director Charlie Sporns. Mutafyan and Sporns collaborated on a number of films including Glasscore Entertainment’s 2017 feature film Slipaway which earned an incredible twenty-five awards and was shortlisted for the Academy Awards nominations in 2018 and received awards from prestigious events such as the Terra di Siena Film Festival. Glasscore team members are continually working throughout many countries including China, Kazakhstan, India, and Russia. Tigran was in Beijing working on Dragon Scale while Sporns was in China to develop Glasscore’s upcoming feature-length film Space Families and invited Charlie to oversee post-production to determine the optimal use of visual effects to enhance the story. Specifically, this was focused on the character Lu Fang’s powers. Glasscore’s visual effects expert Max Safronov was enlisted to create a design appropriate for the story, within the film’s low budget, and most importantly to be unique and captivating. While Dragon Scale became an instant hit in China, it’s most impressive aspect is how it was created with funding and on a schedule far less than any film of its kind prior to this. The reaction of the public to Dragon Scale confirms that the most essential resource in modern filmmaking is the talent and knowledge which creates it. While some element of this has always been true, it resonates even more loudly today. Glasscore Entertainment, whose other key crew members include Tammy-Anne Fortuin and Yash Khanna, have set the new standard for smaller film production companies on an international level. Previous award-winning productions such as Zoya, How to Get Girls, This Much, and Masters of the Sun (a VR animated feature film) are examples of the diversity they are capable of. Their ability to produce films of a high quality like Dragon Scale, with such limited resources, is opening up an international client base to Glasscore that seemed heretofore unimaginable.
Tig and Charlie
Perhaps the most impactful thing that Glasscore Entertainment is achieving in their work is placing the focus of filmmaking back on the artist rather than being so economically driven. At their inception, none of the arts where financially driven; they existed because talented artists made creations which intrigued us. Tigran and his associates at Glasscore are leading professionals whose careers coincide with an increased ability to create exceptional films with greater freedom. As Tigran puts it, “The real value is what the artist creates. His work has to talk instead of him. An artist can be humble or they can be extravagant, racist, merciful, etc. but only with their work. Being socially humble is a necessity. You struggle, suffer, and starve, sometimes dealing with hatred and wild rules around you. If you want to join the community of the predators you have to stop being an artist, and if you do join the predators you will stop being an artist by the nature of it.” Pointing out a not so obvious factor in the advancements of film centers outside America, Charlie Sporns relates, “A key difference between the two markets is that Chinese audiences and filmmakers are very aware of Hollywood culture whereas American audiences and filmmakers are still quite oblivious to Chinese culture. If the Chinese market can make American audiences interested in more than just their martial arts, it could be a big win for China. Having an awareness of the potential for working with these different film communities and understanding the potential for integration is key to evolving alongside them.”
Charlie Sporns of Glasscore Entertainment
Skill, talent, and vision are traits of leaders; with the increasingly international cross-pollination of filmmakers and audiences, Glasscore Entertainment seems to be defining that. In both ability and an awareness of how different countries perceive the demeanor of the artist themselves, Glasscore is creating productions which are transforming the process in China and other countries while America watches closely. Major film studios have been dethroned as the gatekeepers of the artform, leaving production companies like Glasscore Entertainment to reaffirm that uniqueness of voice is paramount. The evolution of their filmmaking process is a recalibration of what is possible on today’s playing field.
Written by Patrick Wilson