Headline Nov 03, 2014/


IF HOLLYWOOD is the land of broken dreams,  then   Hengdian World Studios lives up to to its nick name of  *Chinawood*.

On a 650-hectare  (1,600-acre)  site in the mountains  350km  (217 miles) south of Shanghai lies one of the world's largest outdoor film studios.

Chinese media claim that, in 2012, including advertisements,  30,000 productions were shot. The studios boast, among many vast sets, a fullscale replica of Beijing's Forbidden City.

Shanghai's migrant population almost trebled between 2000 and 2010, to 9 million of the municipality's  23 million people. Nearly 60% of Shanghai's  7.5 million or so 20-to-34  year olds are migrants.

And one educational option that is left to the brightest young migrants is vocational school, where students are taught a trade.

At a suburban campus of the Shanghai Vocational School of Technology and Business, half the students are migrants and half are local Shanghainese  -some years ago, only one student in seven was a migrant-

Because the locals tend to be those who failed to secure the prized slots in formal Shanghai high schools, the migrants students here are the stars. 

The town of Hengdian is also home to  72,000  migrant workers, almost as many as the native population. Each year more than  1,000 fresh faces arrive seeking fortune and celebrity. Few find either.

Although their predecessors were grateful for factory jobs, migrants today are looking for something better.

They are better educated and seek jobs in the service sector or in property, according to Chen Lan, a researcher at China's Human Resources and Social Security Ministry.

Stay on the farm is no longer an option.

When migrants arrive in Hengdian they register at a local acting guild. Each day they loiter, playing Chinese chess, hoping to be offered work.

The day rate is 40 yuan  ($6.30) , with 5 yuan per hour overtime. Typically they play soldiers in an imperial army.

Jia Jianjun, a  22-year old from Inner Mongolia, came to Hengdian  ''to fight for a better life''.  He pays  170 yuan a month for a sparse room next to a stinking public toilet.

Mr Jia explains that he got fed up with his job as a street vendor selling slippers. He arrived in Hengdian last month to fulfil his childhood dream of acting.

Things are going well so far. He has already landed his first extra role as an imperial guard on a television show.

But he dreams of seeing his name among the credits,  ''as an imperial eunuch serving the emperor or something,'' he says:

''I want my friends to see me on television.''

Mostly, though, life for the young hopefuls is like that of actors the world over: brutal competition and bruised egos.

Zhang Minmin, a 24 year old student from Jiangsu province, is fortunate.

Dressed as a Yuan dynasty warrior he lounges in a deck chair on the steps of mocked-up Forbidden City temple.

Mr Zhang has taken one step up the ladder to become a contracted extra, and gets two or three gigs a day for  200 yuan a go:

''But if you mess up one performance, then you are lost forever,'' he says. Mr Zhang's goal is to get out of Hengdian to reach Beijing the  ''cultural capital''.

There, actors audition for parts. The roles in Hengdian, he says, are for the small fry.  

Student Zhang Xiaohan, is 16. She moved to Shanghai five years ago from Henan province in central China in order to be with her migrant parents.

Her father is a furniture salesman and her mother works in a shop.

She studies computing. Ms Zhang would prefer a diploma from a Shanghai high school and the better chance at a university education that would bring, but she admits,-

''I need to accept reality. I need to adapt.''

With respectful dedication to the Students, Professors and Teachers of China. See Ya all on !WOW!  -the World Students Society Computers-Internet-Wireless:

''' Acting Up '''

'''Good Night and God Bless

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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