Central TV Department 14.
When Zhang Ye entered the office space, he did not go elsewhere but headed straight to Yan Tianfei's office. Old Yan was having a late lunch and had just finished eating the food from his lunch box prepared by his wife. His secretary was just taking the lunch box from Old Yan to go wash it when Zhang Ye entered.
"Director Zhang." The secretary nodded with a smile. Then he left the office with the empty lunch box.
Yan Tianfei was taken aback and asked curiously, "Teacher Zhang, didn't you just get off the plane today? Why did you come to work in the afternoon if you just arrived back at Beijing this morning? There's no hurry at all. Besides, you should be resting after working so hard for the past two months. Why are you in such a hurry to do the post-production, voice-over, and the editing?"
Zhang Ye smiled and said, "I wanted to discuss something with you."
Yan Tianfei asked, 'What is it?"
"I want our documentary to start broadcasting on December 10th," Zhang Ye asserted.
Yan Tianfei was taken aback at first, then looked to be deep in thought while he wondered, "Why does this date sound so familiar?"
Zhang Ye replied, "Rise to the Dance is also going to be broadcast on that day."
Only then did Yan Tianfei recall. "No wonder it sounds so familiar!"
"I would like our documentary to be broadcast on the same day and time as theirs. That's why I came here to seek your opinion. Zhang Ye stated, "If you think that's not possible, then we can talk about it again another time."
Yan Tianfei didn't even give it a second thought and just said, "Why not? Since you're the executive director of our only independent program team at Department 14, I won't interfere with the matters that you're handling. You can decide on the date and time by yourself since there are plenty of free broadcast time slots at Department 14. You can just choose any time slot from Monday to Sunday. As long as you feel that it's alright, then it's settled. There's no need to ask me."
With that, it was now Zhang Ye's turn to be taken aback. "Thank you."
Yan Tianfei chuckled, "We are different from Department 1. This is just a small office. As a famous program planner, executive director, and host in the country, we can't be any happier that you are here with us now. We won't limit you in doing anything. As long as you feel it's OK, then anything is fine. I'll let you have absolute freedom and authority on handling that matter, so you can do whatever you like and it doesn't matter how the viewership ratings turn out either!"
They supported him with the money, they supported him with the manpower, he could do whatever he liked, and there was no need to ensure a good viewership rating—even for Zhang Ye, this was the first time that he had come across such a department. Naturally, Zhang Ye felt very grateful to Yan Tianfei, as he knew this was because Yan Tianfei respected and trusted him.
Zhang Ye said, "Director Yan."
Yan Tianfei gave a wave of his hand. "I don't have that many rules here, since I call you Little Zhang, then you can just address me as Old Yan."
"Sure." Zhang Ye had to be worthy of his respect so he said, "Don't worry, I'll definitely do a good job on this show."
Back in his own office.
The empty Section 3 office space at Department 14 already had its new nameplate hung on the door and on it were the words of "A Bite of China Program Team." The people inside were excited and the 20-odd staff were discussing in low whispers. Just look at how fast the news had spread. Zhang Ye was only at Old Yan's office for ten minutes, but everyone already found out about it.
Little Wang was stomping around anxiously. "Director Zhang really wants to compete with them?"
Tong Fu pulled a long face. "I can't imagine how embarrassing it'll turn out to be when the viewership ratings are out!"
"All the staff throughout Central TV are discussing this matter now. All the people are waiting to watch the fun…no…waiting to see us make a fool of ourselves!" Huang Dandan smiled wryly. "How could our documentary possibly verse their variety show? Moreover, it's even a large-scale singing talent show with big shot celebrities like Huo Dongfang, Fan Wenli, and Shen Lili! There's no way we can compete with them! We're only making a traditional documentary!"
Ha Qiqi remained silent for a long time.
Zhang Ye came back to the office and said, "Why are you all here?"
Seeing him, everyone hastily stopped their discussions and did not say another word.
Zhang Ye asked curious, "Didn't I already say that you guys can have a few days of rest? I can handle the rest of the work here and you can rest well."
Zhang Zuo replied, "If you're not resting, then neither should we."
Ha Qiqi responded, "We can't let you do all the work."
Wu Yi spoke, "We'll all rest together after the documentary's post-production has been completed."
Everyone had gone through thick and thin together since they were on The Voice, so they had a mutual understanding of one another. That was why everyone came back to work without exception. Even those that had returned on the same flight as Zhang Ye in the morning also came back after having their lunch.
Zhang Ye felt quite touched. "Alright then, let's make our final push and complete everything!" After a pause, he continued, "I want to tell you guys something which I think everyone already knows about it. I just reported to Director Yan that our documentary will start broadcasting on December 10th. There's only two weeks left, so we must do our best to quickly finish up and send it for approval."
Little Wang, who looked like she was either crying or laughing, asked, "Director Zhang, are we really going to compete with Rise to the Dance…"
Zhang Ye smiled and said, "How would we know if we don't give it a try?"
Little Wang claimed anxiously, "But we shouldn't even be trying. We're only making a documentary here, how…"
"Even if we changed it to another broadcast time, so what?" Zhang Ye declared, "Everyone should not feel pressured by this. What's the difference between broadcasting on that day and on a different day? We might as well take advantage of Rise to the Dance's popularity and let them help us promote our documentary for free. We won't even have to spend any money on that."
When they thought about it, it was indeed as he said.
Even if they avoided the broadcast time of Rise to the Dance, there would still not be much of an audience who would watch their documentary, so there wasn't going to be too much of a difference in the end.
Following that, Zhang Ye started to assign the tasks.
He did not idle around either and started to make some phone calls.
The first call:
"Hello, Director Qu. I've finally managed to reach you."
"Teacher Zhang, hello, I was in a meeting earlier."
"I'm doing a show now which I think you might have heard of?"
"I know, it's a documentary."
"Look, we had a very good working relationship previously with the second-tier ads on The Voice and you also know my character now. We definitely won't disappoint you with this show, but for now, we still do not have a title sponsor yet, would you—"
"Aiya, I'm sorry, Teacher Zhang. Recently, our budget is really low and we really can't afford to fork out any."
"We're making a documentary on food which is very suited to the branding of your winery."
"We really do not have enough money. Perhaps next time. Next time, we'll definitely cooperate with you again."
The second phone call:
"Hello, Boss Zhou, it's me."
"Director Zhang, it's been a long time."
"I've just finished a documentary, so about the ads, your fruit juice product—"
"Director Zhang, let me be frank with you. If you were making a variety show, even if it were a talk show, I would definitely be fighting to be your title sponsor. But now, it's a documentary you're making, and that basically has no commercial value in it and the viewership ratings are also poor. So then, I'm really sorry about this."
"The viewership ratings will definitely be much higher than what you would expect."
"Maybe next time, when you're making a variety show again, I'll definitely be the first one to look for you. I'll even invest 50 million RMB on it!"
A few phone calls later, he received no favorable responses.
Zhang Ye was feeling helpless. Those businessmen were too shortsighted!
Ha Qiqi also came back from making some calls. "Director Zhang, I've had no success at all. I've checked with seven, eight food and beverage related companies and none of them were interested in buying our advertisement slots. Only one company was slightly interested but when they heard that we wouldn't be inserting ads inside the actual documentary, they also rejected it."
Zhang Ye explained, "We're not doing a variety show this time, so the actual documentary has to be cleanly presented. Otherwise, it'll affect the overall quality of the documentary. That's why we're only selling the title sponsorships and advertisements outside of the actual documentary."
Ha Qiqi sighed, "Then it'll be even less attractive. I also discussed with some online video hosting sites regarding the online exclusive broadcast rights. They were very interested in cooperating with us, but the price offers were very low and almost negligible. It'd be as good as giving it to them for free."
"Forget it, I was already mentally prepared for this outcome." Zhang Ye said, "We'll just go ahead without the advertisements then. We'll talk about it again after the show is broadcast."
The program team felt that Director Zhang was being too positive.
For the past few decades, there were almost no documentaries in the entire country that earned any money, much less earning from advertising fees. This felt like idiotic nonsense!
Following the variety shows' style of simulcast over the Internet?
And even thinking of competing with Rise to the Dance by broadcasting at the same time slot?
No one on the program team knew what Zhang Ye was thinking about. They were just an unloved and uncared for traditional documentary and yet he wanted to do it like how variety shows were done?
Zhang Ye did not bother to explain it to anyone. If no one wanted to take up the advertisement slots, so be it. He immediately moved onto the next step and arranged for the art designers to create some publicity posters for A Bite of China, then led a group of people to edit the documentary. They took an hour before finally ending up with three-minute trailer, or you could call it a promotional video too. Once the music and voiceover was added, it would be ready for release.
The background music was a huge task and it was even more troublesome than Zhang Ye doing the narration by himself. Hence, he handed this job to around eight staff members and let them handle it. If they really could not manage, they could also choose to spend some money to hire someone from a music company to do it for them. Zhang Ye still knew a few people in the music industry who could help them out. Their program team still had some money left over which should be enough to cover those costs. As for the editing and narration work, they were entirely Zhang Ye's tasks to handle. The others could do little for him here as they wouldn't be able to help him out essentially.
The work started!
"Director Zhang, I've completed it."
"That won't do, make it a little more detailed."
"Director Zhang, is this poster OK?"
"No, it looks too plain. It only depicts the scenes of some farmers working in the field? This looks too monotonous."
"Uh, but our documentary is a food show that introduces different foods and cuisines, this—"
"Even if it's a food show, we still have to bring out the artistic atmosphere of it. Especially the cover poster. It has to be more outstanding. Why don't we do this? Change all the rice in these paddy fields into the shapes of calligraphy writings."
"Yes. Replace the paddy fields with calligraphy. When seen from far, they look like paddy fields, but when viewed up close, the farmers are actually planting calligraphic words in the fields. Oh right, create a few more posters. For example, piping hot rice dumplings. Make them look like it's in the shape of a mountain and place two real mountains beside it to further enhance that effect."
"Wow, this idea is so awesome!"
"Yea, the atmosphere is brought out immediately!"
"Director Zhang is truly a professional."
"Isn't that nonsense? Director Zhang has been making advertisements since a long time ago. Which advertisement made by Director Zhang isn't known by all? In the aspect of publicity, no one can compete with us. Even if we're not making a variety show but a documentary instead, our starving camel is still bigger than a horse!"
Immediately, the program team of A Bite of China went into full swing!