Chapter 276 - Investment

“Jiaojiao, it’s a wrap for you.”

Sheng Jiaoyang completely relaxed upon hearing Director Ma's words. She had to film for two extra days as Director Ma changed the ending of the second female lead at the last moment.

"Everyone has worked hard. Tonight's dinner is on me. Director Ma, is everyone allowed to have a break tonight?" Sheng Jiaoyang said to Director Ma with a smile.

"Yes!" Director Ma gestured.

Thanks to Sheng Jiaoyang, the whole cast and production crew could take a breather to enjoy a good meal.

As Director Ma said that they will be focusing on the scenes for the second female lead these two days, Qu Wen wasn't present at the filming site. Meanwhile, there were some scenes which Gu Zhou partook in and hence he was present.

The whole party marched to the restaurant.

In the end, on the second day, there was new gossip news about the 'Empress' production team. It said that Qu Wen was outcast by the production crew for the male lead and second female lead was at the production team's dinner and yet the female lead was missing. Weren't they deliberately excluding Qu Wen?

Qu Wen's fans lashed out at the production team in the comments section of the team's official Weibo account. Eventually, the battlefield expanded and they started to lash out at Sheng Jiaoyang on her Weibo account. Jiao Fans weren't a group who would take it lying down when things went overboard. Though they were restricted by the fan club rules ‘No scolding of others’, it didn't mean that they couldn't retort. Each of them had mastered the art of shooting others down without any vulgarities.

Currently, Sheng Jiaoyang had no time to care about what was going on on her Weibo. She had brought along the completely changed (not an exaggeration) Ye Zi to meet a rookie director and a rookie scriptwriter.

This was also the same crew who came to her with the entire script and original novel.

Speaking of which, this was the first time that both sides were meeting each other.

"Hello, I am Qin Anliang, the director of 'Double-Faced Lovers'."

"Hello, I am Ma Tingting, the scriptwriter and original author of 'Double-Faced Lovers'."

The duo appeared very humble and placed themselves at a lower pedestal.

They looked very young and seemed to be students who were still in universities. Though Jiaojiao was younger than them, she was currently a popular actress with tens of millions of fans; whereas, they were still rookies. This was why they had placed themselves on a lower pedestal.

"I am Xu Jiaojiao, this is my assistant Zeng Huan. This is my manager, Xu Ping, you guys have met her before. Oh, and Ye Zi, my junior." Sheng Jiaoyang introduced her team one by one.

Both sides had a pretty good first impression of each other.

After all of them had sat down, Sheng Jiaoyang threw out a question first, "How are the preparations coming along?"

She remembered that Xu Ping had mentioned that the production team was preparing the funding for the drama and would need a month or two, which happened to fit right into her schedule. As a result, she decided to take this on after seeing that the script was pretty good.

She deliberately brought Ye Zi with her today to get her a role in the drama.

Qin Anliang and Ma Tingting exchanged glances with each other as an awkward expression appeared on their faces.

"Is something the matter?" Sheng Jiaoyang saw their expressions and asked.

Qin Anliang cleared his throat and said with a helpless expression, "Miss Xu, as you know, Tingting and I are both normal people without any connections. Also, these filming studios and investment companies either dismissed us or wanted to buy over the rights to shoot the drama on their own. There were also some who wanted to invest to take on the leading roles, but we just want to stick to our principles."

"This script is a work of our own, it's like our child and we don't want anyone else to meddle with it. So we are really sorry, this drama might have to be indefinitely delayed," Ma Tingting said sincerely.

"What if I am the one who wants to invest in this?" Sheng Jiaoyang propped her chin on the table with one hand and wore a slight smile on her face.

Qin Anliang and Ma Tingting were both stunned.

"Miss Xu, you…" Qin Anliang hesitated.

Sheng Jiaoyang smiled, "Do you mean to ask how much I can invest?"

Ma Tingting replied with some trepidation and anticipation, "Based on our calculations, aside from the amount we need to pay you, we would need another five million dollars."

They clearly did their research. Jiaojiao had debuted for less than a year. Other than having filmed a perfume commercial, she hadn't appeared in any other endorsement deals. Even if she had so much money on hand, why would she go through all that trouble to invest it into the drama? Moreover, at the moment, they had no idea if the drama would be able to pass the first bout of screening. If the completed drama couldn't pass the screening, the sum of money was as good as being thrown into the deep seas.

"Five million…" Sheng Jiaoyang reiterated.

Qin Anliang and Ma Tingting exchanged gazes; they could read each other's thoughts through their eyes - they had given up all hope.

Five million was a somewhat small figure to a large investment company, yet they didn't agree readily to invest in this drama. What could they expect from an individual? Even if the individual was a famous A-list celebrity, five million dollars wasn't something that they could just take out on a whim. They would definitely consider the gains and losses involved.

Sheng Jiaoyang tapped her fingers against the tabletop and asked, "When do you need the funds by?"

"Miss Xu, you are investing this amount?" Qin Anliang was shocked.

"The money is not a problem. I have the connections as well. On top of it, I can disregard the remuneration, but," Sheng Jiaoyang's eyes shone brightly. "I want a 70% cut!"

She had read the script and original novel carefully. It was pretty good and there weren't any bad elements within which would pose a problem at the screening stages. As for the time taken for the drama series to pass the screening, she could make use of her connections to hasten the process. She had also done some research on Qin Anliang and watched one of the microfilms he shot. She approved of his abilities.

Qin Anliang and Ma Tingting never expected such a turn of events. Not to mention 30%, they would be satisfied even if they were given only 10%. Because they weren't in this for the money but autonomy. If they were in it for the money, they could have just sold the rights to someone else.

"Then Miss Xu, do you have any other requests?" Qin Anliang was more cautious and didn't agree immediately.

"I won't interfere with the decisions you make. Also, if there are any difficulties, you guys can still come to me."

Sheng Jiaoyang smiled, "Anyway, you guys have already mentioned that I will be playing Zhou Yilin."

Zhou Yilin is the name of the female lead in 'Double-Faced Lovers'.

Just as the title implied, the female lead had two faces and was a more refined character. It was totally different from her previous roles and posed as a challenge to her.

"Oh, right."

Qin Anliang and Ma Tingting exchanged gazes. Here it comes.

Seeing their nervous expression, Sheng Jiaoyang smiled to herself and said, "Take a look if there are any suitable roles in Double-Faced Lovers for Ye Zi. Just give her a chance to audition."

The duo heaved a sigh of relief.

Qin Anliang looked at Ma Tingting for the latter to return his glance. Ma Tingting then said, "Based on what I have seen so far, Miss Ye seems to have a pretty good image. What do you think about An Xiaotian?"

"The second female lead?" Sheng Jiaoyang raised an eyebrow.

Ye Zi'e eyes shot wide open. She has been playing walk-on roles for five years and now she finally has the chance to audition for the second female lead!

"Since everyone is here, Ye Zi, try out a scene here. Though An Xiaotian is the second female lead, she isn't the evil supporting character but is rather silly and adorable. Scriptwriter Ma…" Sheng Jiaoyang looked at Ma Tingting.

"Call me Tingting will do," Ma Tingting said hurriedly.

"Tingting," Sheng Jiaoyang called out naturally, "set a scene for her and let her try it out. If she isn't a good fit, then it's fine. Don't force it."

Ye Zi seemed to be very nervous. What a great opportunity!

Ma Tingting pondered for a moment and said to Ye Zi, “Miss Ye, let me give you an overview. An Xiaotian is a klutz, and an adorable optimist. She is the biological daughter of the female lead’s adoptive parents who went missing since childhood. So, play out a scene where An Xiaotian did something wrong and was criticised by the female lead. Then your biological parents came in to acknowledge you. You need to show your reaction to the sudden situation.”

Ye Zi could feel her breathing hastening and her mind seemed to have gone blank.

Sheng Jiaoyang lifted a hand to pat Ye Zi on the shoulder and encouraged her, "Don't be so nervous. Your image is already fitting for this character. Put yourself in An Xiaotian's shoes. I will help you through the sequence."

With Sheng Jiaoyang's help, it would be easier for Ye Zi to get into character.

Ye Zi thought of this as well. She looked at Sheng Jiaoyang, her eyes filled with gratitude and took a deep breath to calm herself down. She then tried to construct the sequence Ma Tingting described in her head.

"I'm ready," Ye Zi stood up.

"Just stand here. Pretend that we are in an office and I am your superior," instructed Sheng Jiaoyang.

Ye Zi nodded and started to adjust her own disposition to a subordinate who was being criticised. Remorse and sadness appeared on her face.

Sheng Jiaoyang leaned back against her chair with her arms folded. Her expression had turned solemn instantly. She lifted her head slightly, her gaze swept past Ye Zi, emanating a stern and majestic aura. She had already become the embodiment of Zhou Yilin, the able woman once she stepped into the office.

"Do you know, due to your carelessness, our estimated budget is way lower than the actual cost. Now that we are halfway through the project but yet without the funds to proceed on, where do you expect me to find the money to fill this hole up? Seven million dollars, are you going to give it to me?" Sheng Jiaoyang's eyes seemed to be sprouting flames, the pent-up anger in her unmistakable.

Ye Zi was immediately brought into the scenario. She trembled slightly, the fear and trepidation evident in her wide-opened eyes. She bit down on her bottom lips as though she would burst out in tears the very next second.

"At this moment, your biological parents pushed the door open and entered the room. Your biological mother pulled you into an embrace and cried out, 'My baby, Mummy misses you so much.'," said Ma Tingting.

Ye Zi, who originally felt very remorseful, had a dazed expression the moment she heard Ma Tingting's words. Five seconds later, she blinked. Looking innocent and lost. she pointed at the seated Sheng Jiaoyang and said, "Madam, you've got the wrong person, your baby is there."

"Okay, that will do," Ma Tingting smiled and interrupted, "Miss Ye is definitely well suited to play An Xiaotian. She managed to catch the gist of An Xiaotian's character so quickly. Your performance is on point as well and totally matched how I imagined An Xiaotian to be."

"You can call me Ye Zi," Ye Zi said shyly.

Xu Ping, who had not spoken, smiled and said, "All of you are around the same age and will be working together in the future. Let's not stand on ceremony with each other."

"Sis Ping is right, we are going to be working together and friends in the future, so let's not stand on ceremony. Just call me Jiaojiao. Here, let's place out orders first, we can discuss the details after dinner," Sheng Jiaoyang then passed the menu to Qin Anliang and Ma Tingting.

The unfamiliarity between them dissipated in a moment.

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xYuna's Thoughts

TL: Cosy | Editor: Grace | TLC: Grace