Salon Films’ boss Fred Wang has connections in places that many people have never even imagined. As such, he and his family have been helping film productions behind the scenes in Asia, the Pacific and the U.S. for 50 years. Now, he is putting them together in an alliance that spans China, Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore.
Company is best known as an equipment supplier with outlets in China, the Philippines, Malaysia and Thailand, but has regularly provided production finance for some of the movies it has provided with tech facilities.
Fred’s brother and business partner, Charles Wang, died last summer. But Fred Wang now seems determined to put Salon on a different plane altogether.
Last year saw Salon move into the international sales arena, picking up rights to $10 million Donnie Yen starrer “Painted Skin.” Pic is an 18th-century supernatural thriller set as a China/Singapore co-production and helmed by Gordon Chan.
Now, the company is going further and is setting itself up as a hub for Asian co-productions and cross-border investment. It has partnered with China’s enormous Hengdian World Studios facility (where Relativity Media’s “Forbidden Kingdom” lensed), heavyweight Japanese talent manager and TV producer Yoshimoto Kogyo and leading Singapore production shingle Mediacorp Raintree. Also included in the mix is financier Access Asia.
The partnership with Yoshimoto Kogyo means Salon will represent the Japanese firm in co-investment and co-production arrangements in Asia.
Wang says the partners intend to provide a full-service package for foreign investors, from film financing to location management and from concept stage through production and post.
“In the future, the industry will be more organized, smooth and cost effective,” Wang says. “Compared to other industries, the film industry is still in the Stone Age, and the industry needs a big change. Studios are just waking up now.”
A key aspect of the deal is Salon’s and Hengdian’s access within China. The territory offers potential which, due to its regulatory environment and developing- country status, has remained tantalizingly out of reach for many would-be players.
Salon plans to use its access to deliver at least five features over the next three years. And, using a fund that is now being put together, producer and animation specialist Christopher Brough expects to announce more titles imminently.
“We’re looking for titles that will resonate. Big Hollywood-approach movies,” Brough says.