FilMart seminar looks at Asian talent

Panelists discuss breaking into U.S. market

HONG KONG — A seminar on talent management at the Hong Kong FilMart pondered whether Asian and international star systems are colliding.

“Asian stars are trying to get into the U.S. market,” Teddy Jung, prexy-CEO of powerful Korean agency iHQ said Wednesday. “But we are also trying to create concepts in Asia for our talent. We need to create a network of markets and a network of agents. That will help us make the step into the U.S.”

Zhuang Liqi, managing director of Chinese talent agency Chengtian, said the current model was similar to the old Hollywood studio system.

“We invest in pictures like ‘The Battle of Red Cliff’ because we need opportunities for our clients and because most (Chinese) production companies are very small,” he said. “In the future the system will evolve and producers and agents will become more separate.”

Panelists agreed that Asian faces are slowly becoming more acceptable in U.S. films and TV, although there is still much stereotyping.

“Hollywood is looking for talent who will work in both markets,” said talent manger Andrew Ooi of Echelon Entertainment. He pointed to Edison Chen and his own client Maggie Q as examples of successful crossover.

“All the (Hollywood) studios are here in Asia because everything is moving to China,” said Jack Heller, manager at the Schiff Co. “Hollywood is just playing catch-up.”

Zhuang suggested that cooperation was improving. “We work a lot with CAA,” he said. “We show them our projects, and it is good to learn from them. At the same time, CAA will help us to do distribution in the U.S. and international markets.”

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