By Hammad Zaidi | October 19, 2010

Hi everyone. Greetings from high above the Korean clouds! Yes, I’m “Up In The Air” again, this time at 37,000 feet. Last week I wrote the article about MIPCOM on my way here to Seoul. Today’s article about Korea’s remarkably deep-pocketed commitment to 3D technology is being written on my plane back home (by the way, when I mention “Korea,” I am referring to South Korea).

I’m sitting here on the plane next to Kelly, 29, a super-friendly Korean woman who is moving to the Chicago, sight unseen, to learn English. She has never before stepped foot on American soil, nor does Kelly speak much English, yet she’s diving in headfirst and immersing herself into America’s vast unknown. That’s amazing to me, since the most exploring I’ve done lately is spending two hours walking the streets of Seoul in search of a McDonald’s (if I actually spoke Korean, my journey to the golden arches would have taken fifteen minutes).

My new friend Kelly’s mission to learn English is like Korea’s mission to become a major player in the world of 3D; both journeys will take a lot of time, commitment and money. Thus, today’s topic “The Seoul of 3D,” is an eye-opening look at what Korea is doing to enhance 3D technology, and how you may be able utilize their technology and corresponding 3D fund.

Before I dive in, let me first share a really moment from Seoul:

During the middle of a meeting I took at a major Korean Television Network, a seasoned Korean producer pulled out one of my “Going Bionic” articles that he read, after he had it translated in Korean! I knew my wife; my mom and a few of my Facebook friends read my stuff, but a producer in Korea? Hot damn! I was humbled and honored and let’s face it – I was excited (although I didn’t show it during the meeting). So, Mark Bell – congratulations!!! We’re not only being read in Korea, we’re being read in Korean!!!

Anyway – back to this week’s topic on Korea’s 3D play.

First and foremost, I can think of a few billion reasons why you should consider Korea as a place for your 3D projects (yes billion with a “B”). That’s because the Korean government is spending the equivalent of a few billion US Dollars to support 3D projects. That’s a bleep-load of cash. The best part is the money from the fund is given – not loaned. Imagine that. A multi-billion dollar government fund in support of 3D technology that films and TV projects can utilize (I hope someone with deep pockets in Washington D.C. is reading this).

I must disclose that not all of Korea’s 3D fund is allocated for film and television technology – but a lot of is. According to Kim Tong-Hyung‘s April 12, 2010 article in the Korea Times titled “3D Ready For Prime Time,” Korea has already committed the equivalent of $712 million U.S Dollars over the next five years to have full-blown 3D TV networks by 2013. What’s more, at least 20% of Korea’s movies, TV shows and video games will be produced in 3D by 2015. If not that’s enough; also by 2015, Korea’s residents will experience full 3D on their home televisions – without needing to wear 3D glasses. That’s right; those clunky, ugly-a*s 3D glasses are about to go the way of eight track tapes (at least for Korea’s residents it is). In fact, Korea’s progression toward a glasses-free 3D experience is already starting, as I met with another producer in Seoul who showed me his new cell phone with a 3D screen. Very cool!

Before you can brag to your filmmaker friends about having your 3D project green lit out of Korea, you must understand a few things about working in Korea. Here’s some insight:

Ask Yourself If Your Project Is Right For A Co-Production
Which means before you pick of the phone or write e-mail to a potential Korean producing partner (whom you’ll need), you’ve got to ask yourself why your project would be of interest to the Korean market. Thus, in true “Going Bionic” fashion, only projects with a multi-national scope need apply. I’m not saying your project needs to be a $100 million dollar budget, I’m just saying it has to benefit Koreans as much as it benefits Americans. Only then do you have a shot to fund.

Find A Korean Producing Partner Who Is Fund-Approved
Like any ridiculously sought after government backed deal, the Korean 3D fund is reserved for Koreans. Therefore, you’ve got to have a 3D fund-approved Korean producer as your partner. More importantly – their company – not yours – submits the funding request. I’m sure there are also substantial requirements for the 3D work to be done in Korea. But, these are all small prices to pay to get your film made.

Never Ever Be Late To A Meeting
And I mean never, with a capital “N.” Koreans are incredibly precise and are always on time. If you have a meeting at 1:00PM, the person you’re meeting with will be there by 12:45, ready and prepared. Thus, being late not only makes you look uninterested and unprofessional, it also shows a severe lack of respect for the person you’re meeting with. You should find a way to be as early and prepared as your Korean counterparts – no matter how hard that is for you to do. Trust me, I should know. I’m always 20 minutes late to everything – except for (most) Lakers games and my annual birthday trip to the Super Bowl. Thus, I spent all of last week getting up one hour earlier than I should have – just to make sure I was never late.

Your Word Is Your Worth
Don’t say anything you don’t mean and don’t guarantee anything you can’t deliver. Unlike America, where getting second chances is our way of life (i.e. Michael Vick, Martha Stewart and Marion Barry), Koreans expect you to deliver what you claim you can on time and under budget – with no excuses.

Try To See Your Project Through Their Eyes
As Americans, we are deeply ingrained in our beliefs of business should be conducted. Of course, Koreans are raised to believe their way of doing business is supreme. The fact is both ways are valid. They key isn’t to determine which way is right, it’s to create a mutually beneficial way of doing business that addresses the needs and concerns of both parties. Thus, it may behoove you to step outside of your way of thinking and give your project a look through their eyes. I’m sure you’ll be surprised by what you’ll see, as well as what you couldn’t see by solely relying on your way of thinking.

I guess at the end of the day it’s all about expanding your mind, your network of contacts, and your financing opportunities. So what if you have to go to Seoul, Korea to get your 3D project financed? Isn’t that what “Going Bionic” is all about? Utilizing everything the world of international film distribution has to offer you?

Lastly, if you’re worried about diving into an unknown country to chase your dream, just think of my new friend Kelly. She just landed in Chicago – alone – without even a basic grasp of English and she’s actively chasing down her dream. If Kelly can come to America to wrangle her dreams, why can’t you go to her home country of Korea to lasso yours?

Until next Tuesday, thank you for lending me your eyes!

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  1. SHAMIM ZAIDI says:

    Very well written Hammad.

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