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Sunday, March 29, 2015
MetaStory: Creators of Netflix's Marco Polo Visit Mongolia
Writer, Director and Producer attends VIP screening of first two episodes, researches casting opportunity for Season 2
Ulaanbaatar, March 26, 2015 (MetaStory) : Creators of Netflix’s Marco Polo, a show Mongolians know well through actor Amarsaikhan B, arrived in Ulaanbaatar on March 24th to conduct casting and script research. On March 26th, creator-writer John Fusco, director Dan Minahan and producer Richard Sharkey attended a VIP Screening of the first two hour episodes in Hunnu mall. Prominent figures from the government, business, entertainment and arts attended the screening and listened to creator John Fusco’s vision of Marco Polo started when he visited Mongolia in 2002.
The event started with red carpet entrance with important business and entertainment figures walking in. Before the screening, there was a speech by Tumurbaatar Ya, Deputy Minister of Education, Culture and Sciences, Bat-Uul E, Mayor of UB and John Fusco, the creator-writer of the series.
“I am proud that Mongolia’s story is being told by a global media channel with millions of audience,” remarked Mayor Bat-Uul, “as this will greatly boost our tourism.” He said he was also glad that this spring was full of Hollywood visits, as the creators of Wolf Totem had visited UB last month.
John Fusco recounted his travel by Mongolia with then-guide Byambadorj A, who later became his cultural advisor when the show took on. He said he honored his friendship by naming one of his main characters after “Byambaa”.
Marco Polo, a 13th century Mongolian Chinese historical adventure series, which cast Actor Amaraa for Ariq Boke’s role in Season 1, piqued interest of Mongolians since it premiered last December on Netflix, an on-demand Internet streaming media company, which is unavailable in Mongolia.
John Fusco is well known for writing Hidalgo, Young Guns, the Forbidden Kingdom and several other Native American oriented films. He wrote the screenplay of Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron in 2002, which was nominated for Oscar. Dan Minahan is known for directing several episodes of Six Feet Under, True Blood, Deadwood and Game of Thrones. He has been directing in TV for over 10 years. Richard Sharkey is known for working as Production Manager in The Fifth Estate, Brothers Bloom and Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. He has been in the filmmaking industry for 25 years and is known for working as Location Manager in Lord of the Rings trilogy, Star Wars: Episode I and Tomorrow Never Dies.
The creators are producing the Season 2 of the series, with shooting in Hungary, Malaysia and New Zealand, and casting about 60 Mongolians for supporting roles, background players, stunts and interns for the Hungary Unit, which starts this July for 17 weeks.
Actor “Amaraa”, who was organizing the event said, “Marco Polo team is giving a big opportunity to Mongolians. I have been part of their team and met many famous and acclaimed Hollywood artists.”
The supporting roles will require delivering English and Mongolian lines and bringing depth and context of Mongolian character to the show. The background players should be skillful of horse riding, archery, butchery, singing, playing traditional musical instruments, wrestling and making traditional handicraft. The supporting roles are in the process of being recruited and will be hired with all of their costs covered whereas the background players and interns will have wages and portion of their expenses covered, and the remainder has to be fundraised from Mongolia.
Narantsogt B, Chairman of MetaStory NGO, which received the rights to screen the episodes, said, “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Netflix is a modern powerhouse and Marco Polo is a story deeply rooted in 13th century Mongolia. The creators truly care about illuminating and showcasing our history, especially with previously unknown angle of Mongolians being the rulers of Yuan Empire. We should partner with the Marco Polo team, work with them and learn from them as much as possible. The benefits that come from this, tourism and cultural awareness-wise, are more important than anything we’ve ever seen here in Mongolia.”