Director Wei called Fang Shaoyi a “cinephile” and not a “celebrity.” Fang Shaoyi had been practicing the art of acting for twenty years. The air of cinema surrounded him. He had a film spirit: he belonged to film.
At the time, Fang Shaoyi didn’t say anything else. He could only briefly bring up the topic. They would hold a longer conversation given the opportunity later.
Many people left after attending the opening ceremony, then returned for the closing ceremony. But Fang Shaoyi couldn’t handle so much travel. Thus, they all stayed in Cannes until the end of the film festival.
Going forwards in time was more painful than going backwards. The days after returning were once again painful. This time, Yuan Ye headed straight back to Fang Shaoyi’s place with them. The little house was completely different from when Yuan Ye had returned to pick up stuff last time. That desolate and deserted feeling had disappeared. Instead, it felt more like it had before he had moved out. Vitality filled the place.
Yuan Ye said, “The last time I came here, it was like a haunted house.”
With closed eyes, Fang Shaoyi softly hummed. It was a bit tiring for him to speak. His breathing was slightly heavy. “I didn’t let anyone come clean.”
Yuan Ye had lived here for a decade. This was his home. He was more familiar and comfortable with this place than anywhere else.
Ning Lu waited day and night, finally surviving until Yuan Ye’s return. He couldn’t even wait an extra minute. Consequently, Yuan Ye told him to come over. Ning Lu had visited several times in the past, so was familiar with this house. Yuan Ye chatted with Ning Lu all afternoon on the little patch of grass in the backyard. They drank two entire pots of tea.
Ning Lu really liked the story he had purchased. He was still adamant about filming it. Yuan Ye couldn’t understand him, but didn’t try to coax him out of it again. After all, there was no need to absolutely deprive someone of their enjoyment regarding a topic, even though sometimes, this enjoyment was inexplicable to everyone else. However, life occasionally needed these impulses for enjoyment. There was no need to ask about their origins.
He liked it, so Yuan Ye needed to help him. They had grown up together. No matter how unwilling he said he was, Yuan Ye couldn’t really leave Ning Lu to waste money of his own accord.
In Ning Lu’s stead, Yuan Ye contacted a few screenwriter friends he was familiar with and asked if they were free. In actuality, he was just trying his luck. But unexpectedly, there really was one who was free right now, which was rare. It was Ning Lu’s extremely good fortune that allowed him to find a good screenwriter who wasn’t busy. The other was originally supposed to be working on a film at this time, but something unexpected had happened, so that film had been delayed. Yuan Ye told him, “Do me a favor, Jian ge. My bro wants to do something. He wants to film this movie. There’s nothing to be said about his personality; he’s definitely righteous. However, he doesn’t understand these things. Take care of him.”
They had basically reached an agreement after this phone call. Yuan Ye told Ning Lu, “Don’t be stingy with your money. Pay for the work after each step of the process. Don’t pay all at once, but don’t delay payment either.”
Ning Lu nodded. Yuan Ye added, “If you really want to join the filmmaking industry, you need to find a reliable screenplay coordinator. Spend some money and hire an experienced one with keen eyes. Don’t buy scripts by yourself anymore. You don’t know how to choose them.”
Ning Lu looked at him, not bothering with pretending to be polite at all. He said, “I’m not hiring anyone. You’re my coordinator. Name your price, bro.”
A cigarette dangled from Yuan Ye’s mouth as he furrowed his brows and kicked Ning Lu’s chair. He side-eyed the other. “Bullshit.”
We’re sorry for MTLers or people who like using reading mode, but our translations keep getting stolen by aggregators so we’re going to bring back the copy protection. If you need to MTL please retype the gibberish parts.
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Ning Lu shook his head. “I’ll think about it later. Don’t you know me? I only do things for novelty. Who knows how long I’ll be making films.”
That day, Ning Lu had dinner at Yuan Ye’s place. There was an older woman in charge of cooking. She made beef baozis and soup in addition to a few other dishes. Fang Shaoyi didn’t have an appetite, but still came downstairs to eat with the two of them. He ate a baozi and drank a bowl of soup. It had been a long time since Ning Lu and Fang Shaoyi had seen each other, but not so long that they acted unfamiliar with one another. They had already become good friends during all these years. While eating, they chatted. Ning Lu asked a lot of questions about the movie industry. Fang Shaoyi explained some things to him.
In the past two years, Ning Lu had invested in two movies. He had profited from both. In the beginning, movie making was basically the equivalent of playing the stock market. But this person truly had good luck when it came to money. He earned money no matter what he did.
Fang Shaoyi told him, “Do your best to not fund the entire project. It’s enough to just invest a small portion like you did in the past. Whether a movie will earn money at all, how much money it earns – these are all uncertain. You don’t understand the concepts behind them, so funding an entire project is too risky.”
“I wasn’t planning on investing too much,” Ning Lu said. “I won’t pay if they ask for too much.”
Fang Shaoyi smiled and shook his head. “If the projected amount is fifty million, you’ll need to spend about a hundred million. If you really start filming, the project will be like a black hole. In the end, you might not even earn back what you spent. There’s no need to take this risk.”
“You need to listen to what my Yi ge says,” Yuan Ye added from off to the side. “We’re trying to change your mind for your own good. Don’t go charging at the south wall.”
“Okay.” Ning Lu slurped at his soup and smiled while saying, “Thank you, Masters.”
Fang Shaoyi had previously been rushing to film. His schedule had been packed very tight. Right now, he had finished the movies he was scheduled to do and also didn’t have to promote anything. It suddenly felt like he was on vacation. He instantly slowed down his pace of life. Aside from heading to his fitness instructor’s gym every other day and occasionally making a trip to the company, he really had nothing else to do. He watched plays, read books, and woke up early every morning to work out. He spent the majority of his remaining time accompanying Yuan Ye.
Yuan Ye lived in two locations. Sometimes, he stayed at Fang Shaoyi’s place. Others, he went back to his own place. Fang Shaoyi had a lot of free time, but Yuan Ye was starting to get busy. He had a lot of his own work to do too. Previously, he had freed up his schedule to travel with the film crew. Now that he was back, he needed to finish up his required tasks.
Every once in a while, Fang Shaoyi would act as his chauffeur, sending him to and from his destination. He was very professional. When Yuan Ye wasn’t working, he spent the majority of his time with Fang Shaoyi. Even if they didn’t do anything, it felt really nice to simply spend time with each other.
The relationship of an old couple: a passionate love was great, but a calm and peaceful romance wasn’t bad either.
This day, Yuan Ye didn’t have much to do. Fang Shaoyi needed to attend a meeting at the company. Yuan Ye tagged along. It was a normal beginning-of-the-month meeting. It had been too long since Fang Shaoyi had attended one, so Geng Jinwei told him to make an appearance. Yuan Ye sat off to the side, listening. He also looked over the newbies at the company. They truly were quite promising.
Among them, he had only seen Yang Siran before. However, this little brother didn’t seem to be in too good of a mood today. Yang Siran’s manager was an old member of the company. His surname was Qi and he was almost forty. He was a pretty decent person. After the meeting, Yang Siran greeted Yuan Ye. Yuan Ye patted him on the shoulder and said, “Take it slow.”
Yang Siran’s expression seemed a bit put out. He nodded and pressed his lips together. “Thank you, Yuan Ye ge.”
Yuan Ye cocked an eyebrow and asked him, “Something up? You don’t look too happy.”
Yang Siran shook his head. He chuckled and lowly said, “No. I’m probably just a little tired from all the practice I’ve been doing these past couple of days. I’m a bit uncomfortable.”
“What practice?” Yuan Ye asked.
Yang Siran answered, “Physique, vocal, performance.”
“Ah.” He didn’t want to say too much, so Yuan Ye didn’t continue asking. He only told the other, “Then practice well.”
“Un I will. Thank you, Yuan Ye ge.” Yang Siran nodded at him, polite as always.
Ji Xiaotao naturally got confined to the office by Geng Jinwei after returning. It was impossible for him to go on vacation like Fang Shaoyi had. Prior to walking down the stairs, Yang Siran nodded at Ji Xiaotao and greeted, “Xiaotao ge.”
Ji Xiaotao smiled at him. After Yang Siran had already left, Ji Xiaotao told Yuan Ye, “He looks soft, but is actually hard to deal with.”
Yuan Ye cocked an eyebrow. “Why?”
Ji Xiaotao said, “He’s already gone through three managers. None of them worked out.”
This was quite surprising. Yuan Ye asked, “The reason?”
“Wouldn’t listen,” Ji Xiaotao told Yuan Ye as they walked down the stairs. “Apparently, he couldn’t get along with his managers and refused to listen to anything they said.”
Yang Siran had always seemed like a pitiful person who was easy to order around. It was hard to imagine that he could refuse to listen to his managers. Yuan Ye said, “What about Boss Geng? He’s such a nice person now? The rookie’s wreaking havoc yet he isn’t teaching him a lesson?”
“Don’t know. Can’t tell what he’s thinking,” Ji Xiaotao responded. “But this time, Geng ge said too that Qi ge is going to be his last manager.”
Yuan Ye was only casually listening to this information. He didn’t take it too much to heart. After, he nodded and said, “It’s hard to tell what young people are thinking these days. Got no clue. There’s a generational gap.”
“Quit it,” Ji Xiaotao said while laughing. “You weren’t even on the same wavelength as your peers when you were young. They had a generational gap with you too.”
Yuan Ye started chuckling because of his response. He shrugged in innocence.
After reaching the lower floor, Yang Siran headed to his manager’s office. He called out, “Qi ge.”
His manager told him, “Sit.”
Yang Siran said, “I’ll stand for a bit. No sitting.”
The manager didn’t care about this. He told Yang Siran about his following work schedule and said, “One of our company’s movies is about to start filming. When it does, I’ll give you a role in it. There are going to be some people from our company there. Make sure to maintain a good relationship with them. Don’t hold grudges against people in your company.”
Yang Siran didn’t answer. He furrowed his brows in slight hesitation, not agreeing, but not disagreeing either.
His manager looked up at him. He called out Yang Siran’s name before asking, “Did you not hear what I just said?”
A while later, Yang Siran said, “I don’t want to film movies.”
“Then what do you want to do?” His manager’s smile was cold. “Quit testing me. You need to do what I tell you to do. I’m not asking for your opinion. You can only obey; you can’t refuse. We’re not that much of a democracy here.”
He was actually being quite polite in his speech. The relationship between managers and these newly signed artists with little to no background was one of absolute command and execution. Rookies didn’t have the right to say no. Forget normal work schedules – even if they told you to participate in prostitution, your only option was to go. Your manager was your guide in this industry. If you insulted them, how could you survive? They could lead you anywhere.
However, there weren’t any particularly dirty managers in their company. They each had their own ways of dealing with things. Some were dirty, but not extremely so. The manager told Yang Siran, “You got lucky to be signed to our company, but you can’t keep being so naive just because you’ve never encountered a bad person. You can only do what I tell you to do. From now on, every time you say ‘no,’ you’re going to take a break for a month. You can infinitely rest, I don’t care. You’re not irreplaceable.”
These words caused Yang Siran’s face to pale considerably. He kept his lips shut the entire time. Even at the end, he didn’t manage to say a single thing.