The Asian Producers Network, a new org for promoting cooperation among leading Asian producers, had its launch meeting on Saturday at the Grand Hotel. Chaired by Korean producer Jonathan H. Kim, the meet was held under the auspices of the Korean Film Producers Association (KFPA) and PIFF.
Unlike two previous producers forums held at PIFF, APN intends to become a standing org with an office, regular meetings at major Asian film fests and a rotating chairmanship. “We hope to have an office set up and plan in place by next March,” said Kim.
In his opening remarks Kim stressed that even though the Asian film market is growing rapidly and Asian co-productions are finding funding, the region’s industries “are not cooperating efficiently” in their battle to resist Hollywood domination.
Thus the need for “a continuing dialogue between Asian producers,” ideally at the Pusan, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Bangkok film fests. “Projects that have relied only personal contacts have failed,” Kim said. “We need more efficient funding structures, similar to those in Europe.”
Kim also spoke of the growing threat of telcom and broadcasting convergence in Korea, which “is becoming a threat to the Korean film industry” by eating away at the profits from DVD and cable broadcast sales. Other Asian industries are facing similar issues, such as China’s battle with piracy, and “we must develop initiatives for Asia as a whole deal with them,” Kim said.
Tao Jiang of the China Film Corporation was more upbeat in his assessment of the Chinese biz, which is enjoying an across-the-board boom in production, screen construction and revenues, while dominating Hollywood at the BO.
Noting that there is still only one screen for every 130,000 people, compared with one for every 40,000 in Korea ands Japan, Kiang said, “there is still tremendous room for growth.” Also, despite the piracy problem, the government expects the local BO to grow to 5 billion Yuan next year, putting it on a par with Korea and to 10 billion within a few years.
Meanwhile, co-productions with Japan, Korea and other countries in the regional are growing apace. “We intend to expand that cooperation in the future,” said Jiang.
For producers from smaller territories, however, which face an uphill struggle financing and exporting their product, the need for regional cooperation and support is even more evident. “In New Zealand the amount of funding has long been limited,” noted Kiwi producer Melissa Lee.
A recent injection of funds from Korea — the first ever — gave a local production a needed boost to completion. “We now feel more a part of Asia,” she added, but the struggle to overcome “cultural differences” continues. Said Lee: “That’s’ the challenge for all of us — how to make a better international market.”