Most of us think of the world as being a very small place these days. Technological advancements like the internet and social media send information instantly around the world…and you don’t need your own TV network to achieve this. Many of us tend to think that we have a very accurate view of the world and our place in it; this is where the problem begins. For example, television productions like the Superbowl and the like are such massive global hits that they dwarf all others, right? Definitely not correct! The most viewed program on the planet is China’s “Spring Festival Gala.” The population of China exceeds 1.381 billion. In comparison the population of the US is a little more than 321.4 million. While 111 million watched the last Superbowl (dwarfing the Oscars viewership), more than a billion watched the last Spring Gala Festival (a consistent amount of viewers for this production). The “Create a Better Future Spring Festival Gala Show” and other productions of this type are monolithic presentations that have gained the benefit of technical director and producer Xiang Nan Gong. His behind the scenes technical mastery has been vetted thorough many years of working on these productions that are many times the size of our largest US programs. While there is ample reason to be proud of our productions in America and the professionals who steer them, denying the immense ability and talents of those like Xiang Nan is the entertainment industry equivalent of sticking your head in the sand. It’s worth noting that Gong does not subscribe to this ideology as he makes note of his great respect for those in the US production community and their abilities.
The “Create a Better Future Spring Festival Gala” is aired on TV and digital platforms. The Festival has been a cultural staple since CCTV first began airing in in the early 80s. It’s a time when families and friends meet and turning the festival on has become an unconscious action (like turning on the New Year’s Eve televised events for Americans) for those in China and those of Chinese heritage. Celebrities appear, musical numbers are performed, comedians tell jokes, Dance troupes dance…almost every possible form of entertainment appears on this show. All of this diversity demands someone of the highest talent and abilities to make sure that this live broadcast event goes off without complications. Gong explains, “For my contributions, the preparations are the most important. I have an amazing staff whom I assign many different duties to and we try to debug everything. We look for anything that could go wrong, try to make the problem occur, and then find the way to fix it. If we try to unearth all the possible problems in advance, there is much less chance that we won’t be prepared for things that could go wrong during the actual live performances. With a program of this size and with so many different performers, usually sound is the technical problem that is most likely to occur. One of the hosts will not be as loud as a group of dancers, and they in turn won’t be as loud as a live band or an orchestra. These are the types of things with the most variation and thus the things that have a greater potential to cause a problem.”
While dealing with sound issues might be the most laborious of his task, it’s far from the only one. Xiang Nan also oversees, multiple cameras, directs scene switching, and simultaneous recording. Through different angles and placement of cameras, Gong enriches the picture expression and presents the various performance sides to television viewers. One might think of him as the party planner who choreographs the stage, lighting, and sound of the party to insure that all have a wonderful time. Every good party planner knows to invite VIPs to raise the excitement of those in attendance and Gong is no different. Famous Chinese film stars like Sun Daolin, Qin Yi, and other perform as invited guest of Xiang Nan.
Gong’s professional presence on the show is profound. Award-winning director Xie Haiping worked with Xiang Nan on these productions and declares, “The Global Chinese Network Spring Festival Gala achieved much acclaim and became a leading cultural event in the nation. For six straight years, the show won the Peony Award and first prize at the Shandong TV Art Awards. It also won first place at the Taishan Art Awards, as well as three second place prizes. In 2009, it won the first prize, the Best Original Works Award, and the Best Creative Award from the National Spring Festival Evening Review. In 2013, it won an additional Special Award from the Review. This level of intense acclaim would not have been achieved without Xiang’s incredible work. His tireless efforts were the crucial element to all of our success.”
“Create a Better Future Spring Festival Gala” show is certainly one of the most viewed programs in China and the world but Gong’s work is far from limited to this one juggernaut. Among the many productions is “Yin Yue Qian Qian Jie”, one of the more popular Chinese programs. This variety show features a musical star/band with fans with each episode presenting a theme, often incorporating fashion. Ge Lifang (Senior Editor at Shandong Radio and Television) states, “Mr. Gong is one of the top technical producers and directors in China. He has won awards such as: 1st prize from the Sound Professional Committee of the China Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers for his China National Music Orchestra Concert and the first prize in technical quality for his work on Penny Tai Fan Meeting, among others. He is an incredibly talented member of our production industry.”