Korean companies prepare for foreign shoots
The field of production services is new for Korea, given that in past years few global productions spent any time in the territory. Recently, however, as more and more international producers travel to the country to see what it can offer, numerous Seoul-based bilingual producers have begun to market their expertise.The list of production companies with an interest in the field is long, though only a few can boast any experience with foreign shoots. Some of the prominent names include Korea’s largest production house Sidus FNH (“Memories of Murder”), iFilm (“Daisy”), new entrant Barunson (“The Good, the Bad, the Weird”), Mirovision (“Les Formidables”), Doo Entertainment (“Grain in Ear”), Doosaboo Film (the upcoming “Haeundae”), Fine Works (“The Two Faces of My Girlfriend”), Kraze Pictures (“Virgin Snow”) and Mini Film & Location Korea (“Cinderella”). Korea’s only dedicated production service company, Total Production Services (TPS), was launched under slightly different circumstances. The firm was founded in 2007 by former staff members of MK Pictures and is modeled after the production system developed there — although MK has no official link with the new company. TPS employs two producers, four production managers and three location managers on a permanent basis, and aims to provide services on four to five local and international projects per year. “We realize that from a business standpoint, a company such as ours is unlikely to make a lot of money,” says TPS co-topper Kim Hyun-chol. “But our primary goal is to raise the level of professionalism and skills in Korea, because this is what the industry needs to succeed in the long term.” TPS organizes its shoots in a manner much closer to the Hollywood system than the standard Korean production. For example, an assistant director in Korea is often just that — an assistant to the director — whereas under TPS the assistant director plays a central role in planning and executing the shoot. Kim believes the promise of added transparency and efficiency will persuade local companies to make use of the expertise. This year, TPS will partner with Motion 101 — a sister company to distributor Showbox — on one of Korea’s most ambitious films ever, the futuristic action film “The Fist” by director Park Kwang-hyun (“Welcome to Dongmakgol”). The company is also in talks with several of the higher-profile foreign productions that aim to shoot in Seoul in the near future.