The 15th annual FILMART, a major international film and television sales market in Hong Kong, is currently underway.

I’ve attended FILMART several times with my company, Lonely Seal Releasing, so I’ve seen this market grow from an “Asia-Pacific product only,” to the sales gateway for all international film and television product selling to Asia. In fact, in 2010, film ticket revenue in Asia grew by $1.5 billion, from $7.2 billion in 2009 to  $8.7 billion. That’s a 21% increase, which makes it the largest such increase in the world.

Since China’s population was 1,338,612,968 (and growing) as of July 2010, all filmmakers should take notice of China, because it offers tremendous sales opportunities for quality film and television product. Furthermore, FILMART has recently stepped up their game by offering film financing, co-production, and animation forums that encourage multi-country collaboration.

So, without further ado, here are some key insights on FILMART, and distributing product to China and Asia.

In its 15th edition, Hong Kong’s FILMART is home to 550+ exhibitors from 29 countries, and more than 5,000 professional attendees from 51 countries. Thus, once your product is showcased in Hong Kong, film buyers worldwide will take notice.

TV World
FILMART’s TV platform brought in 157 companies worldwide exhibiting their television product, while all major Asia-based television networks were present. The networks in attendance included, CCTV (China Mainland) TBS (Japan) and KBS (Korea), and addition to several more heavy hitters. Thus, if you have product that garners interest in Asia, you can sell it to multiple countries in one quick swoop.

Animation And Digital Entertainment World
FILMART’s animation and digital entertainment platform attracted 88 animation, digital post-production, video games and education based entertainment software companies in 2010, and this year’s event has grown even more. Key elements of this event include the “New Generation Digital Entertainment Summit and Workshops,” the “Digital Entertainment Cross-Industry Roundtable Meeting,” and the “4th Annual Hong Kong Mobile Film Festival”.

This division of FILMART is clearly beneficial to all animators and digital artists, because it opens up a whole new realm of possibilities in a part of the world that most creative types are not privy to.

Equipment And Post Production Services Pavilion
In 2010, 37 companies showcased their newest toys, and this week, the 2011 edition expects an even healthier turnout.  Since Asia is a hotbed of technological advances, all of these new products and services are state-of-the-art, making this section of FILMART to be a Heaven on Earth for any tech geek.

The three divisions detailed above only give a minor glimpse into what FILMART can offer both budding and established filmmakers.

Hong Kong Insights
Hong Kong is New York City on steroids, with more money and a far greater abundance of opportunities. It’s also one of the easiest cities in the world to business in, since its government not only invites foreign collaboration, but also they encourage it. Should filmmakers ever engage in a co-production of related contractual dealing with a company in Hong Kong, they will find their to be minimal “governmental red tape,” to slow the deal down. Filmmakers will also find a deal to close swiftly – once the deal has been agreed to.

The Trust Factor
Like Japan and Korea (two territories I’ve reported on before), business relationships in China are not developed overnight. Filmmakers and producers must exhibit patience during the “getting to know you phase,” because only after your China based counterpart feels comfortable, will a deal occur. This may take several months or up to a year or more to develop, but once it’s done, filmmakers and producers will enjoy a healthy and mutually beneficial relationship for years to come.

Copyright Concerns
One great concern in selling a film to China is that they (usually) do not adhere to copyright boundaries. Therefore, filmmakers must be satisfied with the money they receive up-front from the deal, because their film will be bootlegged within minutes of the film’s master reaching China. The key here is to make sure you get paid BEFORE your film’s master is sent to China. Then assume you will never see another dime from China. Even if your China based distributor is honest and ethical, they still can’t stop the rapid-fire of illegal bootlegs for every film and television product sold in China. Of course, once your film is bootlegged, it loses any further value in Asia. That’s why the amount filmmakers and producers get up front must be an amount they are okay with as the first, last and only payment they will receive from China.

China’s Film Sales Territory Pecking Order
While I openly encourage all filmmakers to explore the possibilities in China, it should be noted that filmmakers and producers should request that the China rights to their films be sold after every other major international territory (Germany, Japan, U.K,) is sold. This is because due to the uncontrollable bootlegging of film and television shows in China, selling rights in China too early may hinder other territory sales – because once a title is bootlegged, it’s value dies throughout the world.

Other Asia Based Considerations
In addition to this article, I have also written two previous articles about film in Asia. On July 27, 2010 my article titled, Co-Productions, Financing Part 2, focuses on TIFFCOM in Tokyo.

Furthermore, my October 19, 2010 article titled The Seoul Of 3D, focuses on the emerging 3D market in Korea.

Feel free to reference the previous articles, as a way to give you a larger scope of the film, television and digital entertainment opportunities available to filmmakers throughout the world.

As I wrap up this installment of Going Bionic, let me just say that it is my intention to shed light on all opportunities for independent filmmakers, whether those opportunities lay in Michigan and New Orleans based film tax credits, or in Hong Kong or Mainland China based financing and distribution deals. With more and more of every film’s worldwide income coming from overseas, filmmakers should start expanding their horizons to opportunities throughout the world, and not just the ones on the soil of their home country. Remember, the world is your oyster, so use it! Thank you again for lending me your eyes and I hope to borrow them again next Tuesday!

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