Unbeknownst to many, the Asian TV and film industry has been steadily growing and presents a stronger portfolio than ever before. With more Asian titles gaining recognition on a global scale, the market is rising with a palpable force.
Taking place recently in October 2015, the first ever WebTVAsia Awards in Kuala Lumpur recognised the top digital creators from 12 Asian countries. The award was attended by 1500 entertainment industry partners, investors, media, celebrities and advertisers.
Emerging platforms has been launched to support budding producers and directors to showcase their work. The Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF), Hong Kong International Film Festival (HKIFF) and the Indonesian Film Festival (Ffi) – just to name a feware platforms where individuals or even production companies can exhibit what they have to offer.
In conjunction with ScreenSingapore, the Southeast Asian Film Financing (SAFF) Project Market will serve as a platform for young producers to network and obtain financing. The arising of financiers has translated into many internationally big name producers. On top of that, many government bodies in Asia are also making great efforts to support the booming industry.
Fred Chong, Group CEO, WebTVAsia said, “The Malaysian government has a strong ecosystem that supports the creative industry through key agencies like FINAS, MDeC and MCMC.” He adds that a special coordinating agency, Content Malaysia Pitching Centre (CMPC) has been set up in late 2014 to facilitate project evaluation and grant disbursements to qualified Malaysian producers based on merit.
Jojo Struys, Co-founder, Kyanite TV continues, “There is also the Film In Malaysia Incentive (FIMI) where foreign companies are incentivised to work with a Malaysian company. If there is a minimum spend in Malaysia of USD1.5 million, there will be a 30% rebate which is a tremendous incentive.”
In Singapore, the Media Development Authority (MDA) has grant schemes in place to support projects, individuals and companies from all media sectors, including animation, broadcast, film, games, interactive media and publishing.
The Hong Kong Film Development Council set up the Film Development Fund (FDF) in 1997 to support projects for the development of the film industry in Hong Kong. In 2007, the Hong Kong government injected $300 million into the fund and expanded its scope to finance small to medium budgeted film productions.
Other than financial support, some governments provide distribution support as well. For example, the Korean Film Council (KOFIC) operates and funds art-house theatres; covering theatre maintenance fees, assisting in producing marketing materials, programming films and translating/subtitling films.
Digital media- from social media to even video sharing sites- has created a free platform for people to showcase their work. “Distribution is open today with online platforms, but discovery becomes a big problem for most filmmakers we are working with. Hence, we wanted to build a destination platform where we can share some of the best Asian stories, surfacing them to an audience,” says Derek Tan, Co-founder, Viddsee.
He adds, “The intrusion of digital media allows us to learn a lot from directly connecting to our audiences digitally. With it, we can make real-time decisions on positioning film marketing to our communities.”
As traditional media evolve as a result of more eyeballs being captured across different platforms, digital media plays a bigger part to the share of consumers than we think it does. To these young producers, although it provides greater opportunities, it also threatens them when competition rises to a staggering number.
“It is no longer an option, but a must to evolve with emerging technology and business trends, as well as content consumption habits of consumers. As a digital media company (WebTVAsia) that has strong foundation in content creation and IP exploitation, we always believe content is king and to win in this industry, one must be adaptable and be able to seize market opportunities quickly,” says Chong.
Although the opportunities are present, not everything is smooth-sailing. Producer at MAKE Productions, Angela Lee weighs in, “We work on a project by project basis. This means that cash flow can be lumpy and that is difficult for a start up company. Finding experienced professionals in a very small market is also a challenge.”
Lee carries on, “Looking forward, we will carry out our east meets west model and reach out to global audiences. Also, we will continue to create current affairs programmes with a fast turnaround which is our specialty.”
Determining factors that add up to the success of a said business is more varied as the means to access content grow. Businesses, young or seasoned, have to toughen up their competitive edge in order to survive in this trade.
“The key to our growth is having strategic alignments with strong platforms in the region and trying to build a strong digital strategy to incorporate as part of business investments moving forward,” Struys comments. “As a business, it is important to have a sustainable ecosystem of opportunities which can continue in the face of adversity with global and economic downturns.”
At the end of the day, the opportunities in the Asian scene are no doubt increasing. With Asian productions backed by various government and industry efforts, more are taking the chance to produce homegrown content that are rich in culture. It is Asia’s time to shine and we have to keep close with our eyes peeled.