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It’s not scary to be unpopular, what’s scary is to pretend to be popular

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It’s not scary to be unpopular, what’s scary is to pretend to be popular

Recently, the historical drama documentary “Only the Fragrance Is the Same” was aired, and received a high score of 9.3 on Douban and 9.9 on Station B. Many lovers of literature and history called it a good movie not to be missed. But compared with popular culture themes, this is a relatively unpopular documentary, with just over 10 million views and less than 20,000 bullet screens.

Although this small but beautiful treasure documentary has only five short episodes, it took three years to shoot, which shows the ingenuity of the main creative team. One popular comment wrote: “…good things are always easy to impress people. There are several times in an episode where we shed tears. It is not because of the plot, but because of the beauty. The characters in each episode of the documentary are familiar with each other, but with the fragrance as a guide, I reopened some chapters and realized There are other sides that are not well known, and this side is delicate and colorful.”

The title of the film “Only the Fragrance Is the Same” is adapted from Lu You’s “Bu Suanzi·Yong Mei” “Scattered into mud and dust, only the fragrance is the same”. The five famous historical figures correspond to Rui dipteroxiang, Meixiang, Chenxiang, Jiaxiang and Aixiang respectively. These five flavors are also the portrayal of the lives of these five historical figures.

Different from documentaries of the same type about ancient spices, it attracts audiences with its unique perspective and expression, which seems to have opened up a “new way” of this type of documentary. The average playing time of each episode is 40 minutes, and the opening chapter directly cuts into the major historical events, and unfolds the details in history that are unknown to the public, and these tiny details just set off a big storm in history… a lot After watching the drama, netizens all expressed their interest in the Chinese Fragrance Tao because of this documentary, and some netizens called out that they wanted to re-read those passages of history. So, what kind of story happened behind the filming of the documentary “Only the Fragrance Is the Same”?

Fragrance is a kind of guidance from the heart of ancient gentlemen when they faced difficult choices

When asked why he chose to shoot a documentary on ancient spices, director Shen Yongpeng first talked about his understanding of fragrance: “We are born to like fragrance, but rarely like smell. We first invented a word called ‘fragrance’ in order to Using this word to describe a certain taste is good, so the ancient Chinese would create some words, such as ‘eternal fragrance’ and ‘scholarly family’, which are used to clarify a kind of morality and promote a kind of righteousness. I think incense is also At many points in history, when the ancient gentlemen needed to make a difficult choice, they had a kind of guidance from their heart, and they believed that this would make them famous.”

And the opportunity to choose spices as the subject of shooting also occurred in this understanding of fragrance: “Since the natural sense of smell of human beings has made many important and righteous decisions for us, it will definitely be more difficult to choose ancient spices as the theme.” interesting.”

After deciding on ancient spices as the subject of shooting, director Shen Yongpeng began to search for the ancients he planned to shoot and the spices related to them in the vast historical materials. After many choices, Shen Yongpeng determined the five historical figures Yang Guifei, Li Qingzhao, Su Dongpo, Huang Tingjian and Hua Tuo. Then, a new question arises: Which spice is closely related to the fate of these five historical figures?

In historical documents, there has never been a lack of records of spices. Almost every ancient literati burned incense, and many ancient literati were themselves masters of incense making. Which of these spices is their favorite? General liking is definitely not enough, because it does not have enough depth, so you must choose a certain kind of destiny that is intertwined with fate, and even the ancients themselves have interpreted it in depth. After all, the biggest difference between ancient people burning incense and modern people spraying perfume is that the ancients themselves are the readers of incense, so this incense is personalized and can match the temperament, connotation, and even encounters of the ancients.

After many researches, Shen Yongpeng finally determined Rui dipteroxiang from Concubine Yang, Meixiang from Li Qingzhao, Agarwood from Su Dongpo, Jiaxiang from Huang Tingjian and Aixiang from Hua Tuo. These five flavors are also the portrayal of the lives of these five historical figures.

It is not difficult to find fragrance, what is difficult is to find “true fragrance”

In this documentary, whenever the scene of burning incense is broadcast, the audience can’t move their eyes, and the explanation of the lines is even more touching. For example, the first episode “Yulin Bell” explores “the death of Concubine Yang Gui”. But the strange thing is that there is almost nothing in the grave, except for the sachet that Concubine Yang always wears, which contains her favorite Rui Dipterocarp. This kind of incense is extremely rare. Even in the heyday of Kaiyuan, Tang Minghuang bestowed only about ten pieces to Concubine Yang Guifei at a time. “Cool, but not harsh; dignified, yet lingering. Ruilong brain is exhausted in the gap between this contradiction, and finally there is not even a trace of incense ash left…” The “hot and cool” feature of this kind of incense is precisely It coincides with the fate of Concubine Yang Guifei being ruthlessly abandoned after the power struggle in the high palace walls.

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When filming this episode, Shen Yongpeng always felt that something was wrong. After using it for a year, he still has doubts. Obviously, the shape and smell of Rui dipteroxiang did not make him feel “cool”. In order to pursue the authenticity of the spices, Shen Yongpeng went through the relevant historical materials, and finally he determined that the dipterocarp used in the test was actually a mass-produced dipteroborneol. Because according to historical records, Rui dipterocarp is produced in extremely hot places and is the crystal formed in the body of a big tree. It is absolutely impossible for this kind of hot spice to be mass-produced, and it is impossible to see it everywhere.

Shen Yongpeng and his team simply overthrow it and start over. According to historical records, the place of origin of Dipterocarpus is Poli (now the west coast of Sumatra), so Shen Yongpeng led his team to start searching near the equator. After searching for more than a year, they finally found Ruidipterocarp that was consistent with the historical records. It really grows from the trunk, and the tree species is also very special. It is tens of meters high and belongs to the rare and protected tree species. This further illustrates a problem: the real Dipterocarpus is impossible to batch It is still a rarity today. If it could be mass-produced, then the Tang Dynasty would have been mass-produced long ago.

When the camera shot the Rui dipterocarp, which had been hard to find, history reappeared. When Rui dipterocarp is burned, it is heated and crystallized at the same time. It seems that the bottom is hot and the top is cold. Melting and crystallization occur at the same time, which is very miraculous. At this moment, director Shen Yongpeng defined Rui dipteroxiang as “hot and cool”, and it came and went naked without any worries. There is no black smoke when burned, and there is no residue at all. In this regard, Shen Yongpeng said with emotion: “I am very glad that I found this rare product at that time. It came from near the equator. It is really not easy to find it.”

With the experience of the first episode of “True and False Dipterocarp”, Shen Yongpeng was more cautious when filming the next few episodes. After all, it is not difficult to find the fragrance, but it is not easy to find the “real fragrance”.

In front of the camera, even breathing must be controlled

In the comment area of ​​the documentary and on the barrage, many viewers will ask a question: “Where did the director and actors learn how to make incense? This is too professional!” Regarding this, Shen Yongpeng said that they did not go to What institution has studied, it is entirely by self-study, trying again and again to the ancient books related to spices: “The “Xiangpu” has been written very clearly, just follow that. As long as you are willing to spend this effort and try more, you can even It can do better than those specially taught outside.”

When asked which episode made the most impression during the filming of incense making, Shen Yongpeng said it was Huang Tingjian’s Jiaxiang. Jiaxiang is actually stinky conch powder, but it has a magical transformation ability after being tormented, which can unite all spices and release a more intense and fragrant scent than the original aroma in the blend of water and fire. In the documentary, Fan Xinzhong, Huang Tingjian’s murderous son, called Jiaxiang a strange fragrance in the world, that is, the “scent of rebirth” mentioned in “Ten States in China“. By synthesizing this incense, Fan Xinzhong will be able to see his wife’s ghost again, and this incense can only be concocted by Huang Tingjian.

With such a legendary Jiaxiang, it is very difficult to reproduce and restore it. Before shooting Jiaxiang, Shen Yongpeng studied the incense recipes left by Huang Tingjian. There are many altered places on the prescription, and Shen Yongpeng has tried them all. He has tried all the altered and unaltered parts, and finally compared them to see which one is better. When you try more times, experience will naturally suffice, especially under the microscope lens, the light and shadow changes are very sensitive, and even your breathing must be controlled. If the breathing is a little bigger, the things originally intended to appear in the lens will run away.

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For this reason, when shooting Huang Tingjian’s nail fragrance, Shen Yongpeng fixed a small macro light on the micrometer, and took pictures of the translucent nail pieces one by one under the microscope, taking pictures one by one, and the light and shadow The change is only a few tenths of a millimeter each time, and finally the photos are post-processed and synthesized into a video. This shooting method is very cautious, as long as you take a wrong photo, you have to start all over again, and the 10-second shot that the audience saw was actually the result of two full days of shooting.

This kind of detail processing can be seen everywhere, but it is not a whim, but a long-term and meticulous polishing. Shen Yongpeng said that before filming, the script was polished very carefully. Even camera transitions, light and shadow changes, music ups and downs, and even the actors’ small movements, gazes, and micro-expressions must be clearly written in the script. He believes that only in this way can there be no mistakes and high-quality products can be produced.

For example, Li Qingzhao’s Mei Xiang in “Like a Dream”, the opening chapter tells that Li Qingzhao, who was nearly half a century old, had a flash marriage with a low-level military officer while fleeing, but within a hundred days he exposed her husband’s crimes in order to seek divorce. In the filming of this historically shocking marriage lawsuit, the conflicts of the characters were not obvious, but the red plums that appeared in the camera at any time reminded the audience of the inappropriateness of this marriage. At the end of the film, the sharp contrast between the male and female protagonists is also deeply rooted in the hearts of the people. Some netizens commented: “Li Qingzhao is standing upright in a snow cave-like room, with a clear light and a solitary fragrance. The continuation of this scene is Zhang Ruzhou held his head in hesitation, weeping, the candlelight only illuminated a rich and colorful corner of the dark room.”

When it comes to digging out details, when shooting a film, the most interesting thing is that before the actors practice, almost every scene, Shen Yongpeng personally plays the corresponding roles for the actors. “It’s a bit funny to say it now. Before the actors film the film, the director acts it out himself. All the actors have seen the director acting in their film.” When we talked about this, Shen Yongpeng couldn’t help laughing. He said that although some people would I feel that doing this is redundant, but I feel that I have to do it because I don’t want to miss any details.

“Mom, this turn around”

Before “Only Fragrance as Old” was broadcast, director Shen Yongpeng had a series of historical works “Old Shen Yishuo” at station B, with a score of 9.4 on Douban, so “Only Fragrance as Old” received a certain amount of attention when it first aired. And in the comment area of ​​each episode of “Only Fragrance as Old”, there are sticky comments from the director and producer, which makes the comment area much more active. Shen Yongpeng said that he often reads private messages and replies as much as he can, but when he reads the comment area, he feels heartwarming.

“I think the most heart-warming and interesting thing is that some viewers who like our works are answering questions for me. This is very interesting. At this time, the comment area is like a reading club, and then everyone gathers to read together, and newcomers come in to ask questions. It turned out that an old friend answered for you, and the key is that he answered to the point, which made me very happy.”

In addition to the comment area, Shen Yongpeng will also pay attention to the barrage on the screen, which is why he wanted to cooperate with station B before shooting. For example, in the episode “Lang Taosha”, it tells that Su Dongpo used Chen Xiang’s suffering to criticize Wang Anshi’s reform, but ten years later he realized the merits of the reform and became the most “inappropriate” person again. This popular historical event made the audience very excited. There were even “two factions” in the barrage, one was “Su fans” and the other was “Jing Gong fans”. discussed. When the discussion was intense, it was as if a debate contest had started on the barrage. Shen Yongpeng said that when he looked carefully at the barrage, he could find some empathy, and of course he could see some new ideas and viewpoints.

When asked about the bullet screen that impressed me the most, Shen Yongpeng’s answer was surprising: “There are many literary talents in the bullet screen, but the one that impressed me the most was the phrase ‘Oh my god, this turn around’, see After watching it, I was very touched.” This barrage was at the end of the episode “Nankezi”, Huang Tingjian walked up a slope, and when he reached the top, Shen Yongpeng shouted: “Okay, turn around, Look in that direction.” This detail was already arranged in the script, but Shen Yongpeng behind the monitor was quite moved after the performance of the actors. The bullet screen “Oh my god, this turn around” shows that the audience understands it, and this kind of resonance immediately hit Shen Yongpeng.

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The fifth episode “The Journey of the Green Bag” tells the story of the Battle of Chibi, Cao Jun’s defeat, Cao Cao wrote a letter angrily denouncing Sun Quan, and frankly said that it was the plague that caused him to burn the ship and retreat, but was used by Zhou Yu’s malicious propaganda. But Tuo was imprisoned… In this episode of barrage, some viewers called it a blockbuster movie of the Three Kingdoms, and some viewers expressed their understanding of the content of the plot through the barrage: “It turns out that the ice platform is wormwood.” “We are also using wormwood in modern times.” Grass drives away pestilence and avoids epidemics.” “Hua Tuo is not a person who is safe for the world. The ice platform catches fire and burns himself, but what is the ice platform without burning the body?”…

Whenever he sees these bullet screens, Shen Yongpeng feels that the audience who post the bullet screens are no longer the audience behind the screen, but the people who participated in the creation of his works, giving this documentary a new feeling with understanding. At the same time, some netizens have re-created the work, such as making the climax part into a collection, or editing part of the poignant content, which also gives the work the power to spread again.

If you can’t make tomatoes, just make cucumbers

Although the scores of “Only Fragrance Is the Same” on Douban and Station B continued to rise, many netizens still defined it as an unpopular documentary. Regarding the unpopular topic, Shen Yongpeng said that he personally had expectations. As early as when he was discussing cooperation with the producer, he had already pointed out that this documentary is not a conventional and popular pop culture in the industry, so the traffic may not be high. Shen Yongpeng also made a very interesting analogy: “Unpopularity is not terrible, what is terrible is pretending to be popular, so I don’t mind or worry about being unpopular, just like I am a cucumber, I will definitely not be able to make tomatoes, I will honestly make cucumbers Well, maybe some people like cucumbers too. Don’t look at the tomatoes being in season, just make tomatoes, and in the end maybe you can’t even make cucumbers.”

As the senior consultant of the producer, Zhu Xianliang said: “Users are always the first. From the user’s point of view, we must innovate the documentary, and the process of innovation is also a process of exploration and error correction. It may cause some controversy. , but we will stick to our approach. For unpopular, as long as the work is excellent, our producer is not worried.”

After the broadcast of “Only the Fragrance is the Same”, many viewers expressed that they would also start to learn how to make incense and burn incense. In recent years, with the popularity of short videos, there has also been a wave of national trends in society. When asked what he thought of the national trend and whether this documentary had the idea of ​​promoting the traditional elegant event of making incense and burning incense in ancient times, Shen Yongpeng said: “If you want to promote traditional Chinese culture, you can’t keep it with this gust of wind, because in addition to creating an environment Besides, the most important thing is to have a state of mind.”

Shen Yongpeng recalled that when he was working in Zhongguancun, he was very busy at work, but he still took some time out of his busy schedule every day to enjoy a moment of relaxation. He believes that if you want to learn the elegant things of the ancients, you should not just wear Hanfu and light incense, but to learn the connotation and enjoy the inner peace. Just relying on a gimmick will not last long.

Zhu Xianliang believes that it is necessary and a responsibility to promote China‘s excellent traditional culture through works on the platform. Sometimes, when an excellent documentary is broadcast, its influence is not only online, but a kind of online and offline interaction, which can even affect a large part of young audiences. This is exactly the value and influence of making historical themes, and it is also the reason why “Only Fragrance Is the Same” took three years, went through all kinds of difficulties and persisted in filming, and finally presented it to the audience with excellent standards.

Text/Photo courtesy of Jinling Xiaodai/Shen Yongpeng

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