Streaming toward success

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A scene from the hit series The Mystic Nine, which features actress Zhao Liying and actor William Chan. [Photo provided to China Daily]

A new wave of domestic drama producers are picking up awards across Asia, and raising the bar for the Chinese online film industry in the process, Xu Fan reports.

When producer Cai Jia was a young child, the little "secret" that pleased her most was to slip out of bed, sneak into the living room and turn on the TV set when her parents were sleeping.

Approaching midnight, The Journey to the West - perhaps the most repeatedly broadcast drama in the history of Chinese television - was the big draw for her.

Curious about how special-effects were created - like how the lead character of the Monkey King managed to steer his cloud through the skies - Cai had always harbored a dream of pursuing a career in television production.

A still image from The Golden Eyes, starring actor Zhang Yixing (center) as the protagonist. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Now, working as a deputy head of the Beijing-based studio Linghe Media, the 29-year-old from Jiangxi province has fulfilled her ambition by producing several popular online series, including The Death Notice franchise, The Mystic Nine, and Sand Sea.

Racking up around 16 billion views online, The Mystic Nine - a fantasy series adapted from a bestselling republic-era novel about a tight-knit clan of tomb raiders - was one of the most-watched Chinese dramas of 2016.

Alongside colleague Han Bing, Cai recently won best producer at the 2nd True Aspiration Awards, an annual ceremony recognizing young talent for their creativity and dedication.

Han's signature work is The Golden Eyes, a 56-episode series about a young man who possesses X-ray-like vision. His special power enables him to distinguish authentic antiquities from fake ones, and he soon finds success dealing in expensive jade - a risky business where fortunes can be made or lost overnight. The Golden Eyes has been sold to the US streaming giant Netflix, and also earned Han the best producer award for online content at the 24th Busan International Film Festival.

Jointly sponsored by the China Television Drama Production Industry Association and the Capital Radio and TV Program Producers Association, the awards were presented at the Beijing Conference Center on Friday.

Ranging from directors and scriptwriters to producers, the winners were shortlisted from around 2,000 aspiring industry newcomers behind nearly 100 TV dramas, online series and internet movies.

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