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U.K.’s Goldfinch Studios Launches Neon in Hong Kong (EXCLUSIVE)

Goldfinch Studios, the British film mini-conglomerate, is to launch a production-development and investment subsidiary in Hong Kong. The new unit, Goldfinch Neon, will be headed by Goldfinch’s Andy Green and Mike Leeder.

Green, based in the U.K. and Hong Kong, previously spent three years as CEO of online platform Distrify Media, where he cut numerous import and export deals with Chinese digital and traditional media partners. He joined Goldfinch last year as head of sales and distribution. Leeder is a producer, actor and production services veteran, based in the former British colony for some 30 years.

Goldfinch Neon will operate on two levels: developing and producing its own film and TV content, and designing film investment opportunities for itself and outside parties.

The initial slate is to include up to four small- to medium-budget films and a TV project, with an emphasis on “smart, culty” commercial genres such as action and kung fu. Projects are expected to have a strong Chinese component but could include English-language elements. Others could be sourced from Southeast Asia. “Neon is a domestic Chinese company, and distribution in China is essential,” said Green, though that could mean either theatrical or online release. “We will never greenlight without that certainty.”

The first project to be announced is a documentary about Hong Kong exploitation cinema of the late 20th century, which Leeder is producing and bringing to Neon. Other projects are expected to be unveiled closer to the major FilMart convention and market that takes place annually in Hong Kong in March.

Goldfinch, which stretches from production and investment to post-production and is headed by Kirsty Bell, has been in operation for four years. It has shown itself to be expansionist and last year added physical studios in York, England, while also bringing in Chinese funding for its BB88 production label.

“Through Andy and his amazing understanding of the East Asian market and Mike with his production expertise and impressive network of contacts, we have a very strong foundation on which to construct Goldfinch Neon,” said Bell. “Our aim is to mix this with the infrastructure and expertise we have in Goldfinch Studios to build a company and slate that truly acts as a conduit for international projects and opportunities into East Asia, and in bringing East Asian film and TV concepts to the rest of the world.”

“Goldfinch Neon is designed to take advantage of our deep market insight on the financing, content and talent sides. We will build international capacity by designing investment opportunities and helping to properly structure media funds,” said Green.

He added that, although IP is a buzz word in China, the exploitation of it internationally is often hindered by poor execution, such as incomplete chains of title or a failure to clear music rights. “We would love to help deliver more Chinese content to the rest of the world,” he said.

Living up to the potential of the material and the Asian region is a refrain echoed by Leeder. “A lot of people just go out and make their movie. Often, it is too quick. They suffer from a lack of proper delivery, distribution, or marketing,” he said. “We will spend money on development and see if projects are genuinely viable first. We’d love to make East-West films that are not a terrible compromise, or a rip-off of ‘The Raid.’

“My love of Hong Kong movies was what brought me here in the first place. Then Hong Kong cinema lost its way for a while,” said Leeder. “Now there are signs that it may be coming back.”

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