Writers and Production in Cat Fight Over Ashes of Love Script Changes

The behind the scenes drama surrounding Ashes of Love 香蜜沉沉烬如霜 continues. We covered it last week. If you aren't updated yet, read first before you proceed. 

To sum it up, there have been many complains that the quality of the show went down midway due to additional scenes to the supporting cast while the main storyline got ignored. After all that hullabaloo, screenwriter Zhang Yuan'ang shared quite a lengthy explanation on her Weibo. (It's really lengthy. Settle in. Hehe)

In her explanation, she says that her team signed on for 36 episodes of Ashes of Love last August 2016 but the client wanted 50 episodes of the story which might not be feasible so they have compromised on 43 episodes instead. She further added that the work done on the additional 7 episodes were "free of charge".

Moreover, she explains that she turned over the final script on May 30, 2017 and had no contact with the client afterwards. It was when the show premiered that she learned that the drama will have 63 episodes and not 43 as was originally written. As the writer for the show, she naturally had concerns about the flow of the story and the quality of the drama with the additional 20 episodes. 

She further adds that her team who has worked on 43 episodes were not given top bill crediting for writing the drama but instead, Ma Jia was billed as the Head Writer while Zhang Yuan'ang's name was below the three producers from the client's side. 

Understandably, Zhang Yuan'ang and her team are pissed at what's happening. She immediately had the production script examined to investigate how much of their script was used in the drama and the results yielded that by episode 18, their script was used almost in 80% of the show. She requested a professional evaluation from an accreditation committee to review the usage to gauge if it would yield the same results.

She explains further that the modification to her script was done between episode 18-34 where script usage of her work significantly decreased. There were also other modifications done to the script that she was not consulted for. 

She continues to call out the production team by saying this is the first time that a screenwriter fails to make top billing for the work done and get bumped off by a virtual nobody. She even shared that in the 10 months of production, the production team has not gotten in touch with them for revisions or clarifications.

Producer Andy Liu Ning had something else to say on the matter. He explains that the original script was shown to the TV Station and the Streaming Sites. Their feedback is still with him, and it's really indescribable (clearly, he meant it in a bad way). They had criticisms on odd character setup and excessive action scenes towards the last half of the story. They want a love story not an action movie. According to Liu Ning, she (Zhang Yuan'ang) always says that the first part was written well, but the script towards the end is so bad and she doesn't say anything. 1-12 is from the novel, what about 13 onwards, does she not have an idea?  

It gets more catty when Ma Jia posted this on her Weibo along with an explanation of her own.

In the post, Ma Jia calls out Zhang Yuan'ang and basically tells her that her script sucked and her attitude insincere and that is the reason why their team was replaced. 

She provided an excerpt from the script that she found particularly laughable where fingerprints are the norm in a mythical tale.

She explains further that Zhang Yuan'ang was requested to modify the script and that she couldn't come to Beijing to consult on the script and even declined to have Ma Jia's writing team fly into Yunnan province, where Zhang Yuan'ang was based. 

She blames Zhang Yuan'ang for taking the attention away from the show and onto herself. 

In the end, Ma Jia posted a link for the public to view the script and judge for themselves. 

I am honestly speechless. Whatever the truth here is, I believe this should have been dealt with privately rather than creating making a spectacle of themselves. 


Source: 1, 2, 3, 4



22 comments:

  1. I dont know why is lying and who isn't. But I do know I truly enjoyed the first half of the drama. And I hate the second half very much. They made a hero into a lovesick weakling. Such a stupid decision. He was a warrior but he ended up as a loser. Who even read the second half screw up the whole drama. I feel sad for the cast.... I hope Yang Zi and DengLun can be in another well written drama.

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  2. The first half was the best and you can tell when they added fillers and made the whole plot about all the supporting characters disregarding the two main leads. I personally feel that the production side has been pretty shady so I am glad all of these stuff is coming to light. Too many productions do stuff like this.

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  3. I think those that watch it can tell that the script deviates halfway through the show. So I'm with the original screen writers cuz the beginning was really what stand out in the show. I'm glad she's calling them out for ruining a good show. Hopefully they did use her script for the last ending. That Ma Jia sounds like an ass!!

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    1. I found the scriptwriter Ma Jia was rather unprofessional in the way she dealt with the original scriptwriter Zhang Yuan'ang. And the fact she resorted to let the public judge Zhang's script was an audacious move when the viewers are having problems with the second part of the drama.

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  4. Let them fight lol

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  5. I also side with the original writer. Production house have done this too many times with "too many fightings, we want more romance". Seriously, that's why the no of eposides keep on increasing and it's hard to find quality dramas these days . They dont care about plot and story. All they care about is more and more romance to attract young love sick viewers

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  6. I think they care about quantity rather quality.

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  7. I remember reading that they couldn't really promote the drama because they had used all their money in the making of the drama. Maybe their budget was only for the original 40 something episodes? If that's the case, I would have preferred the lower episode count so that they can afford to get a better OST. I like Unsullied, but it's like in every episode multiple times in different versions.

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  8. Idk i just find it really funny that they say that they extended the episodes for more romance but xu feng ans jin mi barely had any romantic scenes before he became the demon lord a lot of screen time was dedicated to fillr stuff than the romance so what kind of BS

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    1. Though it does seems funny, the production team didn't lie about adding more romance to the drama. What they didn't say is that they're adding more romantic scenes and god knows whatever unimportant scenes there is just for that demon princess and his lover/guard, and not adding more to the main couple jin mi and phoenix. I skip a lot on demon princess because i can't understand the need to drag the length of the drama just to have more focus on them. For run yu, at least they gave him more depth to his character background, because he is second lead. As for the demon princess, what gives, her scenes keeps getting longer just for the sake of extending the drama. If no one ever read the novel, they would assume there were actually 2 main couple that are equally important. CMIIW i thought she was just barely in the novel.

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  9. I actually like that they brought this in public because there's been a lot of dramas where I just sit there and thought... what the hell happened to the writing quality? A lot of wuxia/xianxia work is dragged waay too long without much substance to the story that I just drop many series midway.

    I hear that more episodes means money from the broadcasting stations to make up for the investment in set and design for wuxia/xianxia projects, is this true?

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    1. yeah they get paid per episode, so a lot pf production companies extend the episode count with fillers to get more money. There are also other rumors about how they make more money with the extra episodes but the only confirmed one is the episode count.

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  10. To be honest, I was thinking +60 epsiodes were a stretch for this drama adaptation and I guessed it had something to do with TV station's demand over content.
    On a side note, I find the producer and the scriptwriter Ma Jia's sides of story doubtful because their responses are too subjective and defamatory putting all the blame on the original scriptwriter Zhang Yuan'ang who in turn pretty much argumented well her problems in a professional and neutral manner.
    Well I hope this is a wake-up call for production companies and TV stations (because they are the ones who buy the dramas) to not take the audience for ignorant viewers who would watch anything for granted, especially when they adapt a book into a drama.

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    1. As long as the number of viewers keeps on high, I dont think these companies will ever learn. Isnt this not the first time, since it also happened to other dramas like Chusen and PA? Pls cmiiw. Yet, people keep on watching and the companies gained a lot of profit, so they'll still do it again.

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    2. Yup, until the audiences stop watching, they will keep lengthen the drama. And this is why last year and this year have been nothing but terrible drama due to the amount of drags each drama have! 2017 - drama got lengthen to 50+ ep thanks to TMOPB (that series can also be shortened), after TMOPB, the standard length has increased to 50+. Then it got pushed to 60+ with fuyao, now looking around so many drama that has more than 60ep! I can say for sure next year, we will be looking at 70+ -.-

      Oh, and the new trend - p1 and p2 >_> and yes, PA is a crappy drama that is longer than it should be!

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  11. I was so in love with this drama. I was ok with the fillers because I thought when Jin Mi x Xu Feng leaving the mortal world the focus would come back to them. But no. They screwed with everything! Deng Lu you and Xu Feng deserve better. :(

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  12. Objectively, this is a very good drama. Please watch it if you enjoy a good heart-wrenching, angsty romance. The main actors/actresses are so talented and convincing in their roles. I totally understand why the novel's fans are angry, but the drama has its strong points. I think that all the characters' actions are logical. JM is lovesick and tormented after killing XF and that comes across. XF is cast off from a mighty warrior of the heaven realm and has to seek refuge in the demon realm, finds out his parents are killed, and his scheming half brother is in charge. He also finds out how evil his mom and to a large extent how irresponsible his dad was. Most importantly, as he draws his last breath the girl that he loved dearly and willing to give up everything told him she never loved him. So his world is pretty much shattered. Personally, it's hard for me to imagine another actor doing a better job than DL - you can tell he so much wants to hate JM and have nothing more to do with her; after all her stabbing him precipitated the demise of his family and destroyed any trust he had in her. But he can't and he is both angry at her (for making him such a lovesick puppy) and at himself for being a love sick puppy. Regarding XF's character - many people are angry that he is not the mighty and proud warrior that he's supposed to be in the novel, but when I read the novel (most of which is written from JM's perspective), there are many things XF did for JM that show he is a love-sick puppy from the beginning for her. In the drama, this is more obvious because you shift the perspective of being from JM's point of view to an overall observer. And the drama does showcase he proud nature. The drama is not free of faults but overall, I think if you step back and look at it on its own (free of what you think it should be - again, hard to do for novel lovers and totally understandable - I think it's well written and even better acted.

    For anyone thinking should I watch it? I would highly recommend you to watch it. If you read all the angry reviews, you will think the drama sucks and it kind of does if you have very strong views of what it should be based on how you imagined the novel. However, judge it on its own it's one of the better dramas out there and the acting is top notched.

    On the side, I actually did not like Eternal Love. For whatever reason, I'm the outcast and totally did not dig Yang Mi's and Mark Chao's acting. Whereas I really admire DL's and YZ's acting - you know exactly what they are feeling looking at your expression despite what they are saying.

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    1. DL's acting is alot weaker than Mark's lol. Among the three leads in Ashes of Love, his acting is the most weak especially in the more emotional scenes. I am not convinced his character is a god of war / demon king lmao.

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    2. 12.a
      it's hard to take you seriously when you said that "among three leads in Ashes of Love, his acting s the most weak especially in the more emotional scenes." It feels like we're watching a different drama, because all the emotional scenes of Deng Lun as phoenix are quite heartbreaking. As for the u're not convinced he is a god of war, it's because the scriptwriter didn't written any scenes that emphasize on that. He's just in a few episode as demon king and they show more of the demon princess than him, hell i won't be convinced too when i just saw a glimpse of him on each episode. My guess, As we're reaching the end, they won't show him much as demon lord too. Just hope they won't rush the the end of it.

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    3. Good for you if you find it heartbreaking? For me it wasn't impactful enough. Deng Lun's acting has also been sort-of-similar to me in his last few dramas.

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    4. @Anonymous who posted 6:20 AM : I usually like Deng Lun's acting but I agree with you about his acting in this drama. He feels miscast in this role. He isn't believable as a God of War and his acting isn't the strongest here. I don't think the writing for Phoenix is that great anyway but I think another actor could have at least sold the gravitas and charisma the character is supposed to have but I find lacking in Deng Lun's portrayal.

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  13. This is also the fault of the ridiculously overlong drama lengths of C-dramas these days. If this drama had just been 40-something episodes or less there wouldn't have been the need for so much padding.

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