PUSAN – Maturing talent management and localized promotional activities are paving the way for Asian actors in overseas markets, according to participants at the Asia Pacific Actor’s Network forum held this weekend at the Pusan Film Festival.
The roundtable event saw representatives from pan-Asian tenpercenteries like China’s Chengtian 18 Artists Management, Korea’s Artistview and SM Entertainment, together with a mix of actors from various territories, discuss the state of cross-national casting within Asia and Hollywood.
According to Song Wan-mo, the CEO of Artistview, successfully promoting his artists overseas has necessitated a segmentation of the agency into specific divisions catering to the U.S. and Japan. He cited the casting of actor Lee Byung-hun in a guest role in the 2007 Takuya Kimura-starrer “Hero” as one attempt to introduce the Korean megastar to Japanese audiences.
Han Jae-min, prexy of SM Entertainment, echoed this view by emphasizing the importance of localization. “If our talent goes to China or Japan, they will need to speak the local language. That’s why we are also selecting partners and establishing branches in these overseas markets, to help our actors and actresses move into those countries,” he said.
But while management executives were upbeat about international casting prospects, the mood from participating talent was decidedly muted. Native Asian actors like China’s Jacqueline Li and Japan’s Juri Ueno were circumspect about the opportunities for actors in overseas markets, citing poor foreign-language proficiency as barriers to entry. Their Asian-American counterparts, on the other hand, were more vocal in their skepticism.
Korean-American actress Moon Bloodgood cited a diminishing slice of the casting pie, noting that Hollywood producers were now more likely to cast an Asian star with an installed domestic fanbase in roles that would have otherwise gone to Asian-American actors, citing Korean pop star Rain’s inclusion in the recent “Speed Racer” as one example.
Separately, the forum was preceded with the signing of a memorandum of understanding for greater collaboration between the Pusan Int’l Film Festival and the Hollywood kudosfest, the Asian Excellence Awards.