Interview|Screenwriter Zhou Yong: Medical dramas are life dramas under extreme conditions

    Screenwriter Zhou Yong has created popular TV series such as "Male and Female Appearance", "Naked Marriage Era" and "Spring Breeze, I'm Not as Good as You". It stands to reason that as a senior screenwriter, it is easy and safe enough to delve into a certain type of subject matter, but he always wants to try as many types and themes as possible. In recent years, he considers himself "middle-aged", has more feelings about life and death, and has started to deal more with hospitals. When he came across the project "Thank You Doctor", it just fit his current dream. The idea of creating a medical drama.

    "Thank You Doctor" Poster

    The author of the original novel "ICU 48 Hours" once studied medicine, and the cases and treatment process he wrote are more professional. These are the places that attracted Zhou Yong. Chung imagined the medical drama he wanted to write.

    According to Zhou Yong's observation, there is no shortage of medical-themed dramas in China, "but there are many dramas in which people wear white coats and fall in love." "And the medical drama I want to write is very simple, the extreme rescue of life hanging by a thread, and the torture of human nature between life and death. I think these two points are the only source of stories and suspense in medical dramas." Zhou Yong thinks that making such medical dramas , To solve two problems: authenticity and professionalism.

    In terms of authenticity, one is the authenticity of doctors, "it can show their real working status"; the other is the authenticity of cases, "During the creation process, we spent a lot of time collecting and sorting out about 100 cases. real cases, and then selected dozens of cases for drama processing.” Zhou Yong said that he has his selection criteria, "One is to avoid novelty to attract attention, and the other is to avoid simple emotional catharsis to seek the so-called topicality. I hope to focus on when we face life and death, when we face illness, People's pain and helplessness, and the brilliance and warmth of human nature behind the pain and helplessness."

    In terms of professionalism, he insisted that professionalism is an important element in medical dramas to attract audiences. "Medical drama is the suspense of life and death. It is the tension of the race against death during the treatment process. This suspense and tension need special professional medical details to create."

    Bai Yu as Atractylodes

    According to Zhou Yong, in the process of collecting and arranging cases, the "Thank You Doctor" team not only paid attention to the condition and patients, but also paid special attention to the treatment process of these cases. "We hope that the treatment process of the cases we wrote is in line with professional operating standards, and all of them happened in the hospital. Professional medical consultants have also helped us a lot."

    During the interview, Zhou Yong talked about the creation process of this medical drama, and also talked about how he, as a screenwriting teacher teaching at a university, views the creation of young people.


    Many surgeons I have come into contact with are very "proud"

    The Paper: You should have contacted many real doctors in the early stage of creation. What kind of inspiration did you have in the creation of "Thank You Doctor"?

    Zhou Yong: In the early stage of creation, I came into contact with many real doctors, and each of them has their own unique personality. Doctors race against death every day, sometimes winning, sometimes losing. But they will always do their best and maintain the greatest respect for life. But there is no perfect and omnipotent doctor. I hope that the characters have their own personalities, with advantages and disadvantages, so that the audience can see that these doctors are real people, see their frustration after failed rescues, and see them suffer from surgery. The twitching of the hands after too long, and the fragility of their powerlessness.

    Yang Mi as Xiao Yan

    The Paper: Are there any commonalities among their personalities?

    Zhou Yong: Many surgeons I have met are very "arrogant". I am not talking about arrogance of character, but a tendency of perfectionism. Because a surgeon is a life-or-death decision, many of them have almost paranoid perfectionism. They require themselves to be very focused and calm, so they have a cold and arrogant temperament.

    The Paper: There are many medical dramas, but the entry points for creation are often different. What is the starting point of the story of "Thank You Doctor"?

    Zhou Yong: In my creation, I determined two perspectives to enter the story.

    One is from the doctor's point of view, we don't want to write about doctors' grievances, how they survive in the hospital, we still want to write about doctors' choices and attitudes when they face patients. Medicine is actually a very special discipline. What medicine faces is disease, and medicine always fails in the face of disease. If a doctor only cares about the disease, whether it is cured or not, but the doctor is dealing with a specific patient and a specific person, then besides trying his best to cure, the doctor may also have the responsibility to accompany the patient to face disease and even death. I personally think that healing is very important to medicine, but help and comfort are equally important, or even more important.

    Another perspective is the perspective of patients. When people face illness and death, we will see helplessness and fear, and we can also see the dignity of life, the brilliance of humanity, and the importance of love and warmth. Moreover, it may be easier for the audience to bring in the perspective of ordinary patients, because ordinary audiences are actually more empathetic to the torment of the disease and the test of practical problems.

    Stills of "Thank You Doctor"

    For medical dramas, the line of emotion cannot be overwhelming

    The Paper: In the play, did the male and female protagonists have quite different careers at the beginning?

    Zhou Yong: The male protagonist is concerned about the cure or not, but the female protagonist will pay more attention to how we can help and comfort the patients, because we must be aware of the limitations of doctors. This divergence is a continuation of our chosen entry point.

    Stills of "Thank You Doctor"

    The Paper: You also mentioned earlier that there are some medical dramas that "love in a white coat", so in order to avoid this creative path, how do you plan the emotional writing between the male and female protagonists?

    Zhou Yong: It is inevitable to write about the emotional drama between the protagonists. The audience also needs to see the love and hatred between people. But in fact, when I was creating, I would consciously avoid writing a pure love scene, and pay more attention to the emotions of comrades in the emergency department. They may have collisions and conflicts of ideas, but it is more of a process of racing against death together. Mutual help and a tacit understanding of working together. In such a process, it is logical to establish and generate more emotions. But the line of emotion is definitely a secondary line for medical dramas, and it cannot be overwhelming.

    The Paper: With so many cases in the play, is there any case that particularly empathizes or impresses you?

    Zhou Yong: I think the stories of many cases can make the audience empathize. For example, we will see elderly couples supporting each other and supporting each other in the last stage of life; we will see young men and women at a loss when they suddenly press the pause button in life after sudden illness; The problem that patients and their families have to face: Is it better to live than to die, or to die better than to live. In my opinion, medical drama is a kind of life drama under the limit state, and everyone will face illness and death. The emotions and conditions behind life and death are something that everyone can empathize with.

    Stills of "Thank You Doctor"

    Facing a good IP is a bigger challenge for screenwriters

    The Paper: You have been in the industry for many years, what observations and suggestions do you have about the current situation in which IP adaptations are the mainstay and original works are scarce?

    Zhou Yong: It is true that it will be more difficult to produce original works in recent years. I think it may have something to do with our entire industry ecology and the controllability requirements for product production. For platforms or production companies, they hope to know what the finished product looks like from the very beginning, so if they have IP, it can help them be more confident in quality control, and the early impact and commercial potential of the IP itself are also very important factors. It's normal. Of course, if the market is full of IP adaptations, there may be some problems with the creative ecology. In the long run, it will be detrimental to the healthy development of the industry. Original works are basically the accumulation and feelings of the creator’s own life, and the creator’s personal emotional investment is more May be more touching. I still hope that the platform and the production company will have more patience and tolerance for originality. I think this kind of risk is worth it.

    Stills of "Thank You Doctor"

    The Paper: Both IP adaptation and original production, you have produced high-quality works, can you talk about your methodology for IP adaptation?

    Zhou Yong: There are actually two kinds of IP adaptations. One is that IP only provides a creative basis for screenwriters at a certain point, such as an interesting theme, a full-bodied character, or a way of unfolding a story. Creation is a lot like originality.

    The other kind, which is more complicated, is what we usually think of as excellent IP works. Because at this time, as a screenwriter, you actually face two problems. First, you have to try your best to understand and grasp the unique temperament and expression of the original work, and keep its good things in the adaptation. But second, you can’t just do a literary work As for the "translator" of the script, it is necessary to mobilize your life and emotional accumulation related to the original work, so that you can integrate with the expression of the original work and produce a good chemical reaction. I think this is actually a very complicated process, sometimes even difficult. will surpass the original.

    The Paper: This adaptation process is actually related to trade-offs?

    Zhou Yong: Yes, this is actually the screenwriter's choice. You must know what must be kept and what must be discarded. When encountering an original author with a particularly strong personal style, he still needs to consider how to preserve his style in the film and television drama, which also requires the screenwriter to have a particularly strong ability to feel the text.

    Stills of "Ten Miles of Spring Breeze, Not as Good as You"

    For example, I previously adapted Feng Tang's "Ten Miles of Spring Breeze, Not as Good as You". It was a work with his unique temperament and expression. Use it, just three episodes of the script. So at this time, for the screenwriter, the "trap" is: if you change it well, people will say that Feng Tang's novel is good, but if you change it poorly, others will say how such a good novel can be changed like this. Therefore, when faced with a good IP, it is a bigger challenge for screenwriters, because the storyline of the structure and characters must be perfected, rationalized, and a lot of original expansion and supplementation must be done. At the same time, after describing the original work from text to a script composed of characters, plots, stories, and dramatic conflicts, you have to retain the unique texture of the original work and try not to lose its shape. Film and television is a very complicated job.

    The creator's greatest capital is life

    The Paper: In addition to being a senior screenwriter, you are also a university professor of film and television creation. Can you give some advice to young creators?

    Zhou Yong: The advantage of young people lies in their active thinking, rich imagination and big brains. In creation, brains are very important, but without the ability to feel life and empathy, only brains will definitely not make your stories move people.

    Many young creators have a problem. They learn to create from ready-made works. They tend to focus on the narrative methods and settings of ready-made works, and they don’t pay much attention to the life behind these works, and even They don't pay attention to the real life and life around them, and they are separated from life. First of all, for a storyteller, whether you are a screenwriter, director, novelist, or manga artist, as long as you are a storyteller, you must maintain curiosity about life, and keep an eye on the people in your life. The ability to empathize with emotions, this is the most basic quality.

    The Paper: The epidemic has had a huge impact on the film and television industry in the past few years. Many creators were unable to do projects, and even changed their careers. Do you have any suggestions for everyone?

    Zhou Yong: The epidemic will definitely affect not only the film and television industry, but even the film and television industry is not considered the most severely affected industry. For anyone, when encountering such difficulties, everyone has to face them in order to survive. But as a creator, the biggest capital is life, so your current survival can actually accumulate for your future career development. In the most difficult time, if you still want to create, don't give up on your goals, believe that everything has a cycle of ups and downs, and also believe that good content is just needed, and good content creators will definitely find their own space. No matter how the times, trends, and society change, people's standards and needs for good stories will not change.


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