“Re-emergence of Glittering Stars” — a Hong Kong Film Advocacy Report
Our Hong Kong Foundation Releases “Re-emergence of Glittering Stars”
— a Hong Kong Film Advocacy Report
(Hong Kong, 10 September, 2018) Our Hong Kong Foundation (“OHKF”) has released an advocacy report (the “Report”) on the Hong Kong film industry, titled “Re-emergence of Glittering Stars”. Presenting policy recommendations in three areas — financing, production, as well as distribution and promotion — this report highlights ways to develop the Hong Kong film industry towards greater success and higher repute.
Over the years, Hong Kong films have remained popular among the local audience, and the city’s film industry has seen the emergence of numerous talented professionals. Coupled with the rapid growth of the Mainland Chinese market, box office revenues have surged from USD 2.7 billion in 2012 to USD 7.9 billion in 2017, representing a near two-fold increase within five years and contributing to 90% of the revenue growth of the global box office, making Mainland market the main engine for the world’s box office performance. As of July 2018, four out of the top 10 all-time highest grossing films in the Mainland are Mainland-Hong Kong co-productions. Meanwhile, leading foreign film companies have been entering the Mainland Chinese market, rendering unique opportunities to Hong Kong’s film industry practitioners. All of the above are reasons for Hong Kong people to feel hopeful about the industry’s prospect.
Eight Recommendations in Support of Hong Kong Films
In view of the Hong Kong film industry’s current advantages and development opportunities, OHKF makes the following eight recommendations that would draw further support for the industry:
- making significant injection into and optimising the Film Development Fund;
- diversifying film financing channels to create a more entrepreneurial and institutionalised film industry;
- optimising local studios and utilising film production elements in the Greater Bay Area;
- providing post-production equipment subsidies;
- strengthening education and nurturing talents in the film industry;
- establishing the "Hong Kong Brand" and developing it in the Mainland Chinese, Hong Kong and overseas markets;
- striving to relax requirements for Mainland-Hong Kong co-productions; and
- serving as a consultant for foreign films entering the Mainland Chinese market.
Stephen Wong, OHKF’s Deputy Executive Director and Head of Public Policy Institute, pointed out that Asian films have undergone vigorous developments in recent years, with South Korean films continuously registering encouraging results. He added that the Mainland Chinese film industry has also been developing rapidly and attracting many leading foreign film companies to focus their attention on the Mainland as well as the Hong Kong markets, which bring invaluable opportunities for Hong Kong. Therefore, Hong Kong must formulate appropriate policies to offer both veteran and young filmmakers more room to realise their full potential, with the vision of revitalising the city’s film industry and making it an “International Film Hub” once again.
According to OHKF’s research report, “First Feature Film Initiative”, “Film Production Grant Scheme” and “Scheme for Financing Film Production” of the Film Development Fund (FDF) are currently facing four major problems:
- complicated application procedures;
- a lack of funding for Internet films;
- rigid production budget caps and limited amount of funding, thus leading to a dearth in diversity of film genres; and
- a lack of cohesiveness among the Fund’s three schemes, causing a failure in providing sustainable support for young filmmakers.
Simplifying Application Procedures and Raising the Amount of Subsidy
In order to solve the foregoing problems, the Report recommends to simplify the current application procedures for the Film Development Fund. For example, successful applicants should not be required to open a new company and a bank account as they sign the contract. To keep up with the development trends of this rising genre in Internet films, FDF should support the production of Internet films.
OHKF also recommends FDF to re-launch the Film Production Grant Scheme (“FPGS”), as well as to increase the amount of financial assistance and the number of grants by the FPGS, the “First Feature Film Initiative” and the “Scheme for Financing Film Production” to nurture young filmmakers. FDF should also improve the cohesiveness among film production-related schemes to enable young filmmakers to produce works in a sustainable way, ultimately allowing them to gradually gain freedom from government policies and become self-sustaining practitioners.
Enhancing the "Hong Kong brand" and Extending the Event Period of FILMART
Apart from providing subsidy, it is also important to re-establish a “Hong Kong Brand”. Currently, Hong Kong organises the FILMART, a four-day event, on an annual basis. A premier trading platform for Asian films, the event carries equal weight as the Marché du Film in Cannes and the American Film Festival in Santa Monica, California. The Report recommends extending the event period of FILMART, and simultaneously holding a series of large-scale related events such as the Hong Kong Film Awards presentation ceremony, in order to raise the international visibility of the “Hong Kong Brand”. In addition, the Report suggests including more professional film financing services — such as completion guarantees — in the FILMART. A further idea put forward in the Report is to explore the technical feasibility of building a film museum to promote Hong Kong’s film culture and brand, which also helps cultivate the city’s cultural soft power.
Kenny Shui, Senior Researcher of OHKF, urged the government to support the establishment of promotion areas and booths for Hong Kong films at overseas film festivals and trade fairs, thereby marketing Hong Kong films to the international film community. Citing South Korea and Foshan as examples, Shui recommends that the Hong Kong Government study the feasibility of setting up an “Incentive Scheme for Location Filming in Hong Kong” for attracting overseas film companies to shoot in Hong Kong. This will not only provide increased employment opportunities for the city’s filmmakers and expose the local industry to foreign film production technology, but also promote Hong Kong’s tourist attractions.