The TV series, Mother’s Life, was directed by Guo Jingyu and Ju Xingmao, starring Yue Lina and Yu Yi, Zhang Shaohua, Shi Ke, Liu Zhiyang, Xiao Yin, Ni Hongjie, Yang Kun, Wang Huichun and Zhang Yonggang. Produced by Beijing Perfect Jianxin Film & Television Culture Co. Ltd., Beijing Perfect Film & Television Media Co. Ltd., and Shanghai Jixiang Theater Square Movie & TV Production Co. Ltd.
On April 2016, Mother’s Life held a lensing ceremony in Beijing. Guo Jingyu and Guo Jiaban worked hand-in-hand with an excellent production team in creating this excellent piece of work. All the artistic scenes of Fuhua Road were meticulously created; the spectacular scenery of the Yellow River, the solemnity of the deep house, the elegant interior layout, and the overall texture speaks of grandiose and tranquility. In order to present the story, Director Guo Jingyu shot it in 4K resolution to ensure the exquisiteness of the frames. The scenes were shot in Beijing Huairou, Hebei Tianmo, Hubei Hong’an, and other places in order to create the best visual effects. Due to Beijing’s long-standing hazy weather condition, it severely affected the shooting plan for the outdoor scenes. Director Guo Jingyu decided to lead the team to complete an “impossible task.” The whole crew used 15 extra large studios in Beijing, changing all the original outdoor location scenes to be shot internally, and rebuilding the courtyards and streets of Shanxi, the Long Family House and the shrine in studios. In addition, the Golden Horse Award ‘Best Stylist’ recipient, Chen Minzheng, acted as the stylist for the drama; he fused both Chinese and Western elements in the costume design and tailored them specifically to the context and actors of this show. The costumes were artistically outstanding, prominently the overall texture that is lavish yet simple.
After more than 10 months of shooting, Mother’s Life officially wrapped up before the 2017 Spring Festival. After the high-quality post-production work and the subsequent refinements, it finally premiered on Beijing Satellite TV and Jiangsu Satellite TV on September 2018, and was simultaneously broadcasted on Tencent Video, iQiyi and Sohu Video.
The TV series, Mother’s Life, tells a legend of a woman and a mother. The story focuses on the early years of the Republic of China and an ordinary woman, Liu Yingniang, and her five children. The story portrays many images of mothers who dedicate themselves selflessly to their family.
This is the most heartfelt, authentic and inspirational story on the TV screen in 2018. The separation between a mother and her children, the blood brothers turning against one another due to their complicated romantic relationships, the devious schemes of the villain, and the inevitable imprisonment; this drama shed light on the various seductions of the world, how far one would go for fame and power, and one’s innermost desires and the thirst for power. After experiencing several separations and missed encounters, betrayal and redemption, Yingniang uses her strong belief and a “regret nothing” attitude to build an indestructible wall of motherly love.
Since the premiere of Mother’s Life on September 2018, the ratings have been outstanding, and have surpassed the 2% viewership rating. Ranked among the best few in the 2018 Annual Satellite TV Series, the series was also broadcasted for a second round on Tianjin Satellite TV on June 2019.
On the Internet, Mother’s Life has also triggered national discussions, repeatedly appeared on the Weibo hot search list and continued to dominate the list for 24 hours. The excellent story structure, the dense plot, the multi-dimensional characters and the topics such as emotional entanglement, family grudges, anti-Japanese resistance movement and etc, won many praises from the netizens for being “exceptional, engaging and tear-jerking.”
With its high-quality production and outstanding ratings, the series achieved the “China TV Drama Production Industry Association Awards for Outstanding Drama in 2018” and “2019 Cultural Responsibility Impact · Annual TV Drama.”
Key Player of G.H.Y Culture & Media – Makeup & Costume Designer Master Chen Min Zheng Talks About “Mother’s Life”
Having graduated from the Central Academy of Drama, Chen Min Zheng (陈敏正) is now China’s top makeup and costume designer. He started his career in styling movie and drama characters in 1976 and has won many awards and accolades.
From Empresses in the Palace (甄嬛传), The Legend of Mi Yue (芈月传), The Empress of China (武媚娘传奇), to the 2018 big hit Ashes of Love (香蜜沉沉烬如霜), Chen Min Zheng undertook almost all of the recent popular film and television character styling works. He also won the 55th Golden Horse Award for ‘Best Makeup & Costume Design’ for Chinese film director, Zhang Yimou’s, movie Shadow (影).
Mother’s Life is a legendary period drama, which spans over a few decades with contrasting characters traits. The characters each have their varied looks and styles at different stages of the drama. As such, Chen Min Zheng has already made a clear direction since the initial conceptualising stage. He said, “though Mother’s Life is a legendary drama, it is still under the umbrella of realism. The characters’ lives and destinies are very much relatable to real life situations. When we design and produce, we still retain the realism. For instance, when we have a character from a clan, we would have our design based on the aura that the family exudes.”
When it comes to the Long Family, the most impressive visual aspect would be the costumes used for the ancestral hall and sacrificial ceremonies. Chen Min Zheng has his particular view on this set of costume designs: “This family clan has a long family history, with its own house rules, traditions, etiquette, different rituals and etc. Hence, the ceremonial costumes should be handed down from previous dynasties and family ancestors. So some classic elements have been factored in to make it look more ritual-related.”
In Mother’s Life, Ying Niang’s life spans from young to middle to old age. In order to fully show the characteristic evolution of this role, Chen Min paid much attention to many details: “She was a mother of several children when she first appeared. We try to keep her appearance as plain as possible. After all, she comes from a big family, thus her clothes are old but not dirty. Tidiness is the focus of this role. Losing her children at her middle age is equivalent to Ying Niang losing her world. We want to show the audience how distressed she was.”
When it comes to working with actors, Chen Minzheng has a long-standing professional code of practice: “It is a must to have artistic communication with the actors because this is the only way they can feel the role, and styling can then further enhance their performance and acting the right way. It is crucial for actors to conform to their understanding of the role and psychological positioning.”
Chen Minzheng and Director Guo Jingyu had previously collaborated in Yangko Dance. Thus, when it came to styling for Mother’s Life this time round, Chen Minzheng finds the experience handy: “Director Guo has his own unique style in scripting and directing. He tends to amplify the entire design to let the characters stand out. Perhaps it was the mutual understanding of the artistic pursuit of these two that created the outstanding and memorable costume design for the drama.”