We had a productive and exhausting week in Hong Kong at the Hong Kong International Film & Television Market March 14-17, 2016. The trip was largely funded by a government grant designed to increase U.S. exports into Asia, so from one perspective, it was a huge success before we stepped off the plane at HKG!
But we couldn’t rest at the bar, so we did a lot of pre-market planning and scheduling to make the most of the trip, which paid off.
Across the four companies that attended the Market, we tallied over 100 meetings with distributors, broadcasters, film finance companies, production companies, and government officials.
By the time we were headed home, we had laid a solid foundation for a two-way pipeline of content between independent American film & TV producers and content buyers and sellers in Hong Kong, mainland China, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Korea and Japan that’s going to pay big dividends over the months and years to come.
Hong Kong International Film & Television Market, commonly referred to as Filmart, celebrated its 20th year in business in 2016. Filmart is put on by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, which has a goal of bringing more visitors and business to the city. They see content as a major component to achieving that goal because content production and sales are booming across the region.
In fact, Filmart is one of the biggest markets for content in the world. This year, over 8,000 people attended the market, with over 700 exhibitors from Asia and across the globe.
The PactUS stand was perfectly situated in the American area, which consists mainly of film producers and distributors. Our stand was the first TV-centric stand from America at Filmart.
Our neighbors at the event were CCTV (the Chinese television juggernaut), the nation of Canada, and the Taiwan delegation.
Our small but energetic delegation ran the gamut of content offerings:
- Phiphen Pictures is primarily a film production company whose partner executive produced 2015 Oscar winner Birdman. Phiphen are also in the midst of a major push into scripted and unscripted television;
- Hot Snakes Media, with massive hits Amish Mafia and Breaking Amish under their belts but who are also producing scripted dramas for Lifetime and award-winning digital content for the likes of Refinery 29;
- And ProMedia Inc, whose recent work includes Children of the Mountain, a feature film debuting at Tribeca Film Festival next month, and a VR real estate series for The Corcoran Group.
We had too many meetings with real sales potential to list here. Of course, our ultimate success will be measured over the next three to six months as we see which of these deals close, but in the meantime, here are the highlights of the trip from my perspective:
- PactUS is working with the Hong Kong Trade Development Council to build up the television side of the market for 2017, particularly in the area of international formats.
- All four companies had tremendous support from U.S. government officials, both on the state and federal level. These folks are really hard working and knowledgeable and we found them to be a powerful resource.
- We attended a reception at the US Consulate near the top of the Peak, along with the producers of Batman and Mad Max: Fury Road, and high-level executives from the Producers Guild of America.
- Two of our delegates made handshake deals with one of the largest television distributors in Singapore.
- We opened up a pipeline for US Indies into the #1 broadcasters in Taiwan and Hong Kong.
- We saw some fresh and interesting formats from Japan.
I’ve been told many times that doing business in Asia is a marathon rather than a sprint. I believe that’s true, but we definitely got a fast start off the blocks!
Dane Joseph, VP of Development at Hot Snakes Media said, “The entire endeavor was a really great experience as a producer. To get more acquainted with the Asian buyers, learn about their unique needs ‘from the horse’s mouth’, and also try to figure out how additional opportunities could naturally flow into an alternate market was truly helpful. I specifically loved our times speaking with government officials and learning about the resources that are available to us, but so few understand how to truly utilize. I look forward to hopefully returning again and getting into business with these companies in the near future!”