Visiting Wuxi, China, with a team of architects and planners designing a state-of-the-art film studio complex earlier this year left Jack Sholder, a consultant on the project, excited about the possibilities not only for the film industry but also for future connections with Western Carolina University.
Sholder, a film director and professor and director of WCU’s Motion Picture and Television Production Program, returns to Wuxi, a city of 7 million near Shanghai, in May to meet again with government officials commissioning a film studio with one of the largest film stages in the world. Designs also include the ability to flood a stage to film water scenes – a feature that would attract filmmakers worldwide, said Sholder, and would also tie in with Wuxi’s location next to one of the largest lakes in China. In addition, the team is developing designs for a hotel, shops and a small studio theme park to accompany the site’s public areas and 10-plex theater with IMAX.
“The project is not only creating a new movie studio, it also will help to build an industry in movie production in the city,” said Jacob Chan, principal with Glumac design firm’s offices in Los Angeles that asked Sholder to work with the team.
Sholder brings value to the design team as a Hollywood director with more than two dozen film credits who can speak from the perspective of a studio user, said Chan. He also provides insight from the perspective of a university educator who has developed a motion picture program and knows what it takes to prepare people to work in the industry, Chan said.
“Jack’s input has been fantastic,” he said.
Sholder said he hopes his discussions with officials in Wuxi about training studio workers could create opportunities to partner with WCU, and he looks forward to exploring those as the project moves forward.
Already in Wuxi are two outdoor film sets, which Sholder visited, that offer a third-century China setting with palaces, fortresses, pagodas and docks with ancient warships.
“Anyone shooting a historical epic in China does it in Wuxi,” said Sholder.
Sholder’s more than two dozen directing credits include directing “Alone In The Dark,” “Nightmare on Elm Street II” and “The Hidden.” He also directed a thriller called “Beeper” that was shot in India at the 1,666-acre Ramoji Film City, the world’s largest integrated film studio complex, and “Twelve Days of Terror,” a fictionalized account of the series of shark attacks in New Jersey in 1916 that was shot in Capetown. His recognitions for editing include an Emmy Award for “3-2-1- Contact.” His work with “The Hidden” yielded a Grand Prix Award at the Avoriaz Film Festival, Jury Award at the Sitges International Film Festival and Best Director honors at Fantasporto.
By Teresa Killian Tate