The Ferryman is a supernatural web drama produced by Beijing iQiyi Technology Co. Ltd., Beijing Perfect Jianxin Film and Television Culture Co. Ltd. and etc, with Guo Jingyu as the artistic director and stars Du Ruoxi, Chen Jie, Liu Yihan, Xuan Lu, Yang Zi and Qiao Shan.
The Ferryman series is divided into three seasons, and were broadcasted on iQiyi on February 2014, October 2015 and November 2016.
On April 2013, filming started for the production of the first season of The Ferryman and officially wrapped up after three months of shooting. The show utilized an everyday life scenic setting, making it as relatable as possible which also resulted in making it extra terrifying for the audience as well. Convenience stores were created as soul stations in the screenplay, with ghosts floating in and out from time to time. Director Guo Jingyu cleverly used the static-and-dynamic contrast method, accompanied by sound effects, lights and scenery, and the exquisite “ghost makeup” of the characters to its fullest.
On October 2014, the production of the second season of The Ferryman kickstarted in Shandong. On March 2015, the production formally wrapped up in Haiyang after 129 days of filming. The investment in the first quarter of this drama was about 7 million yuan, and it doubled in the second quarter.
The Ferryman web series tells the story of a boy with Yin-Yang and the soul ferryman Zhao Li.
A long time ago, there was no underworld and the sky was different from how it looks like now. At that time, the sky was hanging in the clouds. It also has a name called “Kunlun”. Human beings are created by God, and everyone is God’s children. The heavenly daughter of Kunlun Mountain comes to the mortal world. The heavenly daughter, is also the messenger of God. However, among humans, there is a mental disease known as love and because of love, the first war was waged between humans and the Gods.
Xia Dongqing, 24 years old, is an orphan who rents and lives in a shabby basement. He is extremely reticent and has no friends because he grew up in an orphanage. Dong Qing has a pair of special eyes. He can see spirits and has the ability to communicate with them. This “special power” has brought him endless trouble. One day, he finds a job as a shop assistant at a 24-hour convenience store called the No. 444 Convenience Store. However, Xia Dong Qing has no idea that the store is the nexus between two different realms. In other words, it’s a ‘soul station.’ The ferryman Zhao Li has been stationed there for the past 500 years. By day, humans frequent the store. By night, all kinds of spirits haunt. Souls of the deceased depart from here to the netherworld but there are some who refuse to leave as they have some unfinished businesses.
With these eyes, he has seen the love, sorrow, pursuit and longing of the world. It is this pair of eyes that allows him to meet Zhao Li and the beautiful and kind-hearted girl, Wang Xiaoya, and almost fell in love with her. Xia Dongqing becomes Zhao Li’s co-owner, was later destined to help him send away 991 souls.
However, one day, Zhao Li and Wang Xiaoya disappear from Xia Dongqing’s life at the same time.
One year later, he is admitted to a graduate school. No one knows his secrets, and no one knows of his special eyes. Dong Qing can no longer find the ‘soul station,’ the No. 444 Convenience Store anymore and it seems like it has never existed in the world at all. No one knows the college girl named Wang Xiaoya, and no ghost has seen the ferryman named Zhao Li.
But Zhao Li’s words, as they were parting, still ring in his ears: “when the moon turns red, I will come back to you.” On the day the moon turns red, Zhao Li did not return, but Wang Xiaoya shows up instead. At this time, Zhao Li is severely injured and was lying unconscious in a mental hospital. Wang Xiaoya and Xia Dongqing rescues Zhao Li who is imprisoned by evil spirits and the three of them united once again.
Xiaoya falls in love with Xia Dongqing, but this is contrary to the mission entrusted to her by the Heaven. As the ghost who ferries the soul, Zhao Li seems like an almighty, but his worst pain is that he does not have a soul of his own and cannot feel the joy and anger.
Zhao Li buys a villa by the sea, so the strange journey of laughter and tears begins again and we will explore the mysteries of the yin and yang together and pursue the source of the universe…
Screenwriter Xiao Ji Xiang Tian said that the original intention of making this work was to try to pass on the positive energy to everyone through the analysis of human nature and the reflection of life and death while telling interesting stories. Unlike the fast-moving web dramas that are purely catered to the mass market, The Ferryman abandons the temperament of the regular web dramas, and through sophisticated design, it allows netizens to watch and feel mankind’s kindness and provokes thinking on life itself.
With its high-quality content, the web series has obtained extremely high viewership. Its total traffic in the third quarter exceeded 5 billion, its Douban’s score was above 8.0. The Ferry Man exceeded 400 million viewership in 4 weeks and became a hot search topic on the net; to date, it has proudly achieved an overall of 2 billion viewership.
Although the The Ferryman drama series has been completed, its franchise continues in forms of mobile games, VR and movies.
The web film, The Ferryman · Manjusaka, which was released in 2018 was highly anticipated by many fans.
This series is a rare work that takes root in social reality in the field of online drama. It shows humanity through spiritual stories, conveys love and hope, and the value of punishing the evil and promoting the good.
Web Drama, The Ferryman, Series Review
“The Ferryman 3 is not a simple horror/thriller drama series. Xiao Ji Xiang Tian strikes a very well balance between “thriller” and “positive energy.” Most of the stories in the series, has ingenious suspense and plot twists which always ends in a positive way. Successfully fusing the “American Horror Story” style with the local style, viewers will not be left a sense of abruptness.” – Chang Jiang Weekly
“Through the Man On The Road episode, it showcases that the underworld also experiences the same issues as the mortal world. At the same time, it conveys the positive message of working hard to increase one’s standard of living.” -163.com
“In the Painting of Goddesses episode, the scriptwriter tried to use the theme of “Picture of a Nymph” to awaken the man who is entangled in inertia. In this drama series, the scriptwriter will showcase the “Seven Sins” through various episodes, which are endowed with morals, allowing viewers to reflect on their own behaviour.” -163.com
“The story of the twins will show the realistic problems of growing up. From the society’s perspective, The Ferryman may be a horror/thriller film, but it will show the unique perspective of the society through the 19 varied stories, leading to a deeper discussion, not losing to other dramas of similar genre.” – 163.com
“The 19-episode series incorporated the most popular topics, from ancient times to modern times; from friendship to family affection to love. Using ghost stories to story tell human stories, each story will have its own moral, allowing audience to reflect deeper upon themselves. The scriptwriter is extremely creative as he integrates all kinds of emotions into one big pot of delicious stew.” -163.com
“In the 20-episode series, The Ferryman made a breakthrough in the traditional mindset by using unprecedented themes such as “lust,” and “caution,” to reflect human’s greed and wickedness. Such stories do reflect social phenomenon which has strong social meaning and is thought-provocative.” – iFeng