Asian content heavyweights revealed their thoughts on several subjects at a panel called “The Asian Wave in 2023 and Beyond” on March 13, the opening day of FilMart in Hong Kong.
The lively session, moderated by Variety‘s Asia editor Patrick Frater, featured Sebastian Kim, director of international content sales and acquisition at Korea’s CJ ENM, Sanmesh Thakur, executive VP and territory head, Asia Pacific, at India’s Zee Entertainment Enterprises and Ziraviss Vindhanapisuth, VP, international business at Thailand’s BEC World Public Company.
The evergreen topic of co-production was discussed in some depth. Kim said: “We’ve been looking for this formula for decades and for now, we find that the best formula of co-production is more like an adaptation of the original — A place to B place production — that’s how we’ve been doing it.”
Kim, noted, however, that mixed casting from different countries don’t work because of a lack of market focus. “Thai actors are for the Thai market and Korean actors are for the Korean market, when you mix it together, then it becomes like a nowhere target market,” Kim said. “I have not seen a great success of mixed casting working within Asia.”
Vindhanapisuth said that the key to solving the mixed casting conundrum is to develop language and chemistry between casts and that producers have to be clear in which language the program should be made.
Thakur added that Zee is already active in the co-production space with projects in the Middle East and Africa. “Produce locally for the local people in their local language,” Thakur said. “But in doing so, you need to be very attuned to the cultural nuances of a particular region.
“India as a country has the historical and cultural connection to a lot of the Southeast Asian countries and that becomes a very good storyline to work on trying to mix places, countries and actors,” Thakur added.
Kim, Thakur and Vindhanapisuth presented sizzle reels from their respective companies, and the Zee executive pointed out that the common genres across the presentations were horror, drama, love and action.
Of these genres, drama travels the best across Asia and internationally, Vindhanapisuth said.
“The biggest strength of Asian drama is inviting the emotional response from the consumers. And when a drama can resonate with consumers’ emotional feelings, that’s when the consumer really falls in love with drama,” Thakur said.