Busan, the South Korean city that already styles itself as the hub of Asian cinema, is launching a funding program aimed at attracting international productions. Its biggest target is inbound titles from the booming Chinese industry.
The program is to be operated by the Busan Film Commission and will offer production scouts flights and up to 30 hotel nights in Busan. The total value of the scheme has not been disclosed.
“Though all foreign projects are eligible to apply, we look forward to see more Chinese productions in the city. We will evaluate the program at the end of this year. If it is successful enough, we plan to expand further by launching more incentive programs, such as a tax rebate in the coming years,” said BFC executives at last week’s Hong Kong FilMart.
Connections between the Korean and Chinese industries are multiplying fast and are growing in both directions. They range from corporate investments, film co-productions and, building on the popularity of Korean pop music and TV dramas, a growing use of Korean talent in Chinese movies. Many Chinese companies already turn to Korean suppliers for visual effects.
South Korea’s second city, Busan can make a good case for its hub claim. Not only does it boast Asia’s largest film festival, and the most proactive film commission in the country, the central government has relocated a number of media regulatory bodies to the city, including the Korean Film Council. The festival also has China connections and is an advisor to Wanda Cinema.
Chinese films that have shot in the city include the theatrical version of the hit TV series “Where are We Going, Dad?” and “My New Sassy Girl,” with Chinese K-pop star Victoria. Another Busan film fund, which is jointly managed by the BFC and the Korean Film Producers Association, is understood to have invested $1 million in “New Sassy Girl,” which releases later this year.