Chapter 792: Oh, money!
Translator: Legge Editor: Legge
After a busy morning, the program proposal was completed in full.
When Zhang Ye looked at the clock, he saw it was already close to lunchtime. However, he was in no hurry to go downstairs to grab lunch during the break. Instead, without a moment's delay, he went straight to Yan Tianfei's office which was next to his own office to look for him. The door was adorned with a metallic sign with the words: Central TV Department 14, Director's Office.
He knocked on the door.
"Come in, it's not locked." Yan Tianfei's voice drifted out from inside.
Zhang Ye pushed the door open and entered, only to see Yan Tianfei eating lunch. Tong Fu of Department 14, whom he had met earlier, was reporting about work to Yan Tianfei.
Tong Fu turned around and smiled at Zhang Ye in a friendly manner, then spoke, "Director Yan, let me continue."
"Our channel's Crossing Shangri-La's viewership rating for this week is 0.014%."
"Trekking through Xining Again: Episode 3, the nationwide viewership rating is 0.027%."
"Visiting Ethnic Communities, viewership rating of 0.066%."
"Road to the CBA Basketball Championship, viewership rating of 0.092%."
A long list of viewership ratings for each show was read out by Tong Fu.
Zhang Ye stood at the back, listen to this while feeling less and less confident and wanting to sigh badly.
Those viewership ratings were too pathetic!
No, it should be called too motherfucking pathetic!
0.0-something percent? Were these even worthy of being called viewership ratings? Was this the present situation at Department 14? The present situation of the documentary industry? This was too damn low! What did a show with a 0.0-something percent viewership rating mean? For the most common types of TV shows, whether it was a variety show or an interview show, their viewership ratings would all be at least 0.x%! Compared to The Voice that Zhang Ye had brought to this world, such a viewership rating was as good as zero!
Previously, when Zhang Ye was still at Central TV Department 1, he had seen someone compile the viewership ratings with a very interesting data set in it. Central TV Department 1 would always end the day's broadcast at 4 or 5 AM by displaying a colored still image while playing background music. Yes, it was exactly this still image that had nothing on it which would last until the morning, but can you guess the viewership rating for that? It could even get 0.02%! These ratings were from those who had been watching Central TV Department 1 from the night before but fell asleep without turning off their televisions. Therefore, the viewership rating signal could use this to calculate a viewership rating for that time period. Leaving the accuracy and precision aside, this was still included in the viewership ratings report somehow!
What did this mean?
A still image used by Central TV Department 1 to signal its end of day broadcast had a fucking higher viewership rating than a minority of the shows broadcast on Central TV Department 14 during the day, or perhaps even during a primetime slot. As for those other shows that had better viewership ratings than that end of day broadcast image, they weren't actually much higher at all. The highest rated show was the sports documentary involving the CBA league, which just barely hit 0.1% in viewership ratings!
This was as brutal as it could get!
This was so miserable it was unbearable to look at!
Zhang Ye didn't know whether to laugh or cry. He had once again gained a deeper and more intuitive understanding of this world's documentary channel. It was no wonder this channel was on the lowest rung of the viewership ratings when matched up against all the other Central TV channels!
Hai, it's a good thing I'm here now!
With this bro behind you all, I will make us so good that our department will shake up the world!
On the other side of the room.
Yan Tianfei nodded without showing much of an expression. "I understand."
Tong Fu smiled. "I won't disturb from your lunch anymore then."
After Tong Fu left, Yan Tianfei greeted Zhang Ye. "Here, have a seat."
Zhang Ye smiled and said, "Whoa, smells delicious." He looked at the two lunchboxes on the desk. "Did you make this yourself?"
Yan Tianfei pointed at the lunchboxes and said, "My wife made them for me this morning. I just need to heat them up in the microwave during lunch. It saves me so much hassle. You came just in time. She packed too much food for me today, so let's eat together. Come, sit down."
Zhang Ye said, "It's fine. I'll be going to the cafeteria later."
"The food there isn't that good." Yan Tianfei laughed. "You should try my wife's cooking. I guarantee you it tastes much better than that cafeteria food. I have some disposable chopsticks here. Come join me."
Seeing how Old Yan was not standing on ceremony and insisting that they eat together, Zhang Ye did not refuse. "Alright then, I'll have a share of your good food if you insist. The quality of the food at the cafeteria is indeed going from bad to worse."
After eating for a while.
Yan Tianfei asked, "What's the matter? What's that you're holding?"
Zhang Ye handed the documents over at once. "It's the proposal that I told you about this morning. Please have a look and give me your opinion."
"You finished it this quickly?" Yan Tianfei replied, rather taken aback.
Zhang Ye said, "I've been preparing it since the weekend."
Yan Tianfei took it from him and browsed through somewhat surprised.
Zhang Ye stopped eating and began introducing, "The front few pages cover the show preparations, then towards the back, it mentions the filming arrangements, expected daily schedules, and so on."
Yan Tianfei praised, "You're indeed Teacher Zhang. Just by looking at this briefly, I already know that you're on a totally different level from the program planning staff in our department." He flipped through the proposal page by page very quickly without reading the details. Then, Yan Tianfei placed the proposal down and said, "Alright, we'll go according to what I told you this morning. This show has been approved and you'll be its executive director and executive producer. The original team of The Voice will be readily assigned by you. On top of that, if you still lack manpower, you can take a few people from Section 1 to help you guys out with the shoot. As for the filming schedule, you can arrange it for any time you want. I'll be fine with it."
Approved just like that?
Without even reading the details? This is too nonchalant!
Zhang Ye was helpless at this. He knew that Old Yan did not have any expectations as well as totally not taking his show seriously. He did not even read the details regarding the show's content and filming style, probably because he did not want to appear like he was doubting Zhang Ye and was happy to let him make a show for the fun of it. He did not pin any hopes on Zhang Ye making a good documentary out of this. After all, the situation of Department 14 had always been at a low, so even if he were to leave it to the others to film the documentary or let Zhang Ye do it, it would still end up as a documentary that hardly anyone watched and probably have viewership ratings of just 0.0-something percent. So then, did it matter who made the documentary? Yan Tianfei surely felt that there was no difference.
If it was badly filmed, the viewership ratings would be 0.0-something percent.
If it was filmed well...it would also be 0.0-something percent.
0.01% and 0.09% viewership ratings, was there any practical difference between them?
Zhang Ye was right, because that was exactly how Yan Tianfei thought.
It was not that Yan Tianfei did not trust Zhang Ye, but the few years that Yan Tianfei had been here at Department 14 had given him a very deep understanding of the documentary industry. The more he understood, the more he knew how difficult it was. To him, or perhaps to their entire department, their highest expectation for a domestic documentary was to have an independently produced documentary win a domestic art award. By going the artistic route, they could still win some honor and reputation for themselves. As for viewership ratings? He had never hoped that a documentary would get much of any viewership. The term "viewership rating" was a nonsensical expectation in the domestic documentary industry that they couldn't possibly have access to! This not only applied to Central TV Department 14, even for the other television stations and the documentary industry, it was the same. No one would be laughing at others, since no one was doing any better than another!
Zhang Ye suggested, "Director, do you want to have a better look at it first?"
Yan Tianfei nodded. "Sure, I will go through it in detail over the next few days."
Zhang Ye opened his mouth. "Then for the production budget..."
Yan Tianfei readily agreed, "I've already promised you 1 million RMB this morning, so go wild with whatever you want to shoot! After you're done with the shoot, there's no need to report back about any leftover budget. If you still want to shoot a second documentary after that, go ahead and do it. There's not much restriction and a lot of freedom over here in our department!"
A second documentary?
Even if the budget for the equipment was taken into consideration, 1 million was still not enough to film a single episode!
The most worrisome part to Zhang Ye was the production budget It was far too little. As a result, he couldn't help but say embarrassed, "Ahem, so then, Director Yan, ah, about the money....Yes, could it..."
Yan Tianfei was taken aback. "What? Are you trying to tell me that this amount is still not enough?"
Since he had already put it that way, Zhang Ye found it even more difficult to speak further. After thinking carefully, he thought that Old Yan had really been very good to him so far. He had already approved the program without meticulously looking over the proposal, willing to support him with manpower resources, and giving him authority as well. It was only their first day coming into contact with each other, so they couldn't be considered very familiar with one another, so Zhang Ye wondered all the more how he should touch on the issue.
Zhang Ye could only say, "It's not like that."
Yan Tianfei asked, "Then what did you want to ask me just now?"
Zhang Ye had already thought over what to say before he came here, so he brought up the next most important issue. "I would like to borrow a few high definition camcorders. From the main camera to the supporting equipment, I want the full set of them. It would be best if I could get my hands on three sets so that I can plan for three different film crews to do their filming concurrently at different locations. That would help speed up the recording progress."
Yan Tianfei was taken aback. "HD equipment? Three sets?"
Zhang Ye replied, "Yes."
Since the budget wasn't likely to be increased, if they could get the HD equipment, that would still take a large amount off the production budget. This sort of HD camcorder and supporting equipment were not cheap at all, in addition to three independent sets of the full setup for on-location filming?
Yan Tianfei asked, "Why do you require three sets?"
Zhang Ye said, "I would like to finish the entire recording by December. That was all written in the program proposal. Since it's almost winter now and as I hope to record more footage, we won't be able to capture some scenes once the weather turns extremely cold."
Yan Tianfei wondered. "Why must you want it in HD? Can't you shoot with the standard definition equipment?"
"Our channel's broadcast signal is HD ready. Although the station's programs are still following the standard definition requirements, which is also how it is for our country's documentaries, I actually find it to be a waste to keep it this way. Since we can broadcast in HD, then we should create better value with an HD show. Besides, the HD equipment does not only contribute to the image clarity, many of the professional shots and magnified closeup effects can only be achieved by using HD cameras," Zhang Ye explained.
Yan Tianfei said, "But no one has ever used HD equipment to shoot a documentary before."
Zhang Ye smiled and said, "Then we can be the first movers and shakers in the industry."
Yan Tianfei replied, "But that would greatly increase the shooting costs. Have you thought about this yet?"
Zhang Ye stated, "That's why I came to you to see if you could help solve our lack this equipment. Does our department have any such equipment?"
"We don't have them. Those things are too expensive and generally a big waste of money. The station hasn't assigned any of that equipment to us before either." Yan Tianfei thought over this for a moment before saying, "For such HD equipment, Central TV Department 1 has quite a number of them. But since I'm not on good terms with their directors anymore, I doubt I can borrow it from them. Then, there's the foreign channel which probably has two sets of them while the sports channel should also have four or five sets of HD cameras. I'm still on rather alright terms with their directors, so I think I might be able to borrow it from them for you."
Zhang Ye cheered up upon hearing this. "Then I guess I'll have to trouble you a little!"
Yan Tianfei threw up his hands and said, "I only said that I would give it a try. Who knows if they're also using them at the moment?"
"I'll only borrow it for two months. I'll get everyone to work overtime so that we can all quickly finish filming and return all the equipment back to our sister channels!" Zhang Ye promised.
Yan Tianfei added, "But I won't be able to loan their personnel over to our department. The cameramen and video journalists we have at our channel might not be able to handle those professional grade equipment."
Zhang Ye smiled at this. "No problem, I know how!"
Yan Tianfei didn't know how to react. He did not take Zhang Ye's claims too seriously and only felt that he said this to ensure that he could get his hands on the equipment. However, he did not say anything to it.
But in actual fact, Zhang Ye truly knew how to handle them!
In the previous lottery draw, not only did Zhang Ye win 100 Skill Experience Books for the Basics of Directing, he also received 101 Camera Techniques Skill Experience Books. Anything that had to do with filming equipment, he more or less knew how to handle them. 101 skill experience books was not a small figure at all. Even though he couldn't be truly called a professional, he could still be considered to be quite knowledgeable about it!
Yes, with the equipment issue now resolved, he wouldn't have to spend to purchase these items anymore. Then that would mean that he wouldn't need 10 million to shoot this documentary anymore. If he tried to cut further down on the expenses, then 6 to 7 million might just be enough? That was good news! Having lowered the production budget by quite a bit, the bad news now was that the show was still the same as before!
Where would he get the remaining amount from? He had to think of a way!
The documentary that Zhang Ye wanted to shoot this time was the famous representative show in the documentary field of his world. It wasn't like he couldn't go ahead with the shoot even though he did not have enough money. No matter how much the production budget was, he could still come up with an average documentary for sure. But if he were to do that, the show's quality would most certainly suffer greatly. It would definitely not be able to live up to the standard of imagery and effects as well as the viewership ratings that he had in mind. This was something that Zhang Ye could not accept no matter what. A reckless move like this was something that Zhang Ye would never do!
If he wasn't going to do it, then fine. But if he wanted to do it, then he would do it to the best of his abilities!
So much so that Zhang Ye had considered increasing the production budget further. He had wanted to have a production budget that was more than what the original documentary series had in his previous world. He wanted to do so because he felt that he could further fine-tune this classic documentary series to let the entire country's citizens and the entire world see the pinnacle of their Chinese documentary standards!
How was he going to make up for the difference of several million yuan??