The Hong Kong government is introducing two new funding schemes under the Hong Kong Film Development Council (HKFDC) which aim to increase co-production with other Asian countries and support the production of streaming content in Hong Kong.
The ‘Hong Kong-Asian Film Collaboration Funding Scheme’ will award grants of up to HK$9M (US$1.15M) to a maximum of eight films co-produced by Hong Kong filmmakers and their counterparts in Asian countries. Applicants will be able to apply for other investors in cases where the production budget exceeds the grant.
The Content Development Scheme for Streaming Platforms will be conducted through a competition to select eight production teams to develop series for streaming platforms. Along with a script development fee, each winning team will be awarded a total of up to HK$5.7M (US$726,000) and will be free to enter into agreements with streamers or other parties for further investment.
HKFDC currently manages the Film Development Fund (FDF), which provides support for Hong Kong films and has recently supported productions including Anastasia Tsang’s A light never goes outNick Cheuks Time is still turning pagesKa Sing-fung’s Lost love and Eric Tsang’s The Hong Kong family. Since 2005, the FDF has pumped HK$1.54 billion ($196 million) into Hong Kong films and film-related projects.
The two new schemes should enable Hong Kong filmmakers to tap into the vibrant and fast-growing co-financing scene currently developing in Southeast Asia and Taiwan. Several government agencies, including the Singapore Film Commission (SFC), the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) and the Taiwan Creative Content Agency (TAICCA), have launched funding schemes in recent years that encourage regional co-production.
The HKFDC initiatives should also help Hong Kong gain a foothold in streaming content production, where it has lagged as global streamers have targeted their content investment and audience acquisition budgets in other markets, such as Japan, Korea and Southeast Asia.
Mainland China streamers including Tencent Video, iQiyi and Youku occasionally invest in Hong Kong content, but focus on Mandarin-language shows, rather than the Cantonese-language films and series usually produced in Hong Kong.
“The Government and the Film Development Council are continuously striving to identify additional initiatives to increase support in new areas,” said HKFDC Chairman Dr Wilfred Wong. “By encouraging filmmaker co-productions between Hong Kong and Asian countries, the Hong Kong Asian Film Collaboration Funding Scheme will help local filmmakers expand their global visions and learn from the creative minds of other Asian countries with the aim of bringing new energy to local film industry.”
Wong continued: “With the wide coverage of streaming platforms, the content development scheme for streaming platforms will definitely help increase the exposure of Hong Kong productions internationally.” The HKFDC also announced the eligibility requirements for the two schemes:
Hong Kong-Asian Film Cooperation Funding Scheme:
· Among the three main creative positions of producer, director and screenwriter, there must be at least one Hong Kong and one Asian country film performer.
· Participating producers/directors/screenwriters from Hong Kong/Asian countries must be citizens or permanent residents of the respective countries and have been awarded or nominated for Best Film, Best Director or Best Screenwriter in an internationally recognized film festival or local awards ceremony.
· Six of the following ten positions must have at least one Hong Kong permanent resident: Lead actor and actress; Supporting Actor and Actress; Cinematography; Action Choreography; Art Direction; Costume Make Up Design; Film Editing; Original Film Score/Song; sound design; Visual effects.
· At least 30% of expenditure below the line is spent in Hong Kong.
Content development plan for streaming platforms:
· The core creative team should include four positions: producer, script editor, script writer and director. All producers, script editors, screenwriters and directors must be permanent residents of Hong Kong.
· Producers and script editors should have completed at least two feature films that have been commercially released in the last ten years or two series broadcast on TV or streaming platforms as a producer or script editor.
· Director and at least one screenwriter should have completed at least one feature film that has been commercially released within the last ten years or one series broadcast on TV or streaming platforms as a director or screenwriter.