Studio seeks international co-productions

HOLLYWOOD — With projects already in production in the Americas and also with European broadcasters, Fox TV Studios is next looking to Asia as fertile ground for international co-productions.

As a result, FTVS has sealed a first-look deal with “Infernal Affairs” director Andrew Lau, former Flame Ventures prexy Zack Sherman and producer Andrew Loo.

The trio plan to develop new English-language fare for Fox TV Studios that could be produced in Southeast Asia — particularly Hong Kong — and then sold to a U.S. network and throughout the world.

Lau and Loo are based in Hong Kong via their company Initial A, while Sherman runs his shingle Zinc Media in Los Angeles. The three producers will work as partners under the Fox TV Studios deal, even though they’ve opted to keep their companies separate.

“Producers like us are fully aware that the international markets are no longer an ancillary business,” Sherman said. “The TV business is just catching up to what was a film model, the international pre-sale. Domestic networks need a cost solution for scripted series, while foreign buyers need quality scripted fare that they’ve come to expect from Hollywood.”

The model will emulate the one that Fox TV Studios has already engineered with shows like “Mental,” which was shot in Colombia — but actually takes place in Los Angeles and stars U.S. thesps. FTVS partnered with Fox Intl. Channels to produce.

The studio is also producing the drama “Persons Unknown,” co-financed by Televisa, in Mexico, as well as “Defying Gravity,” along with CTV, ProSieben and BBC, in Vancouver.

In the case of projects coming out of Asia, FTVS also sees an opportunity to either partner with News Corp. siblings like Fox Intl. Channels and Star TV or other broadcasters in the region.

“We’ve been very eager to figure out a way to generate projects that come out of Asia,” said Fox TV Studios exec VP David Madden. “We’re looking at finding the right material, and between the Andrews and Zack, they’ll help us define that material.”

Action-oriented series top that list, but Madden said he was leery of going down the stereotypical road and picking up martial arts projects.

“It needs to have a very American perspective but can take place in cities like Hong Kong or Singapore,” Madden said.

Development also won’t just revolve around Hong Kong-based projects, the producers said.

“We hope to create a brand that moves from country to country,” Loo said. “And we’re not just limited to shooting Asia for Asia. There’s an opportunity to shoot an English-language show, be it a legal show or anything, on the ground here in Hong Kong and say it’s Boston. The whole world is in play right now, and that opens your options.”

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