A free webinar has raised awareness of Australia’s international film co-production agreement with Korea and the unique opportunities it offers.
Held last week, the webinar attracted over 40 participants from across Australia’s film sector and is the first in a series of activities being planned by Austrade with the support of Screen Australia, Ausfilm and Screen Producers Australia.
The activities are designed to highlight opportunities available under the Audiovisual Co-production Agreement which was secured as part of the Korea-Australia Free Trade Agreement (KAFTA) in late 2014.
Amanda Hodges, Austrade Seoul-based Senior Trade Commissioner for Korea and Mongolia, said the Agreement has opened the door for new commercial opportunities for Australia’s creative industries – particularly film, television, documentary and animation co-productions.
“Co-productions benefit the film industries of both countries with each country offering attractive tax offset packages and in Australia’s case world-class facilities and highly regarded creative talent,” said Ms Hodges.
“Australia’s film industry is globally recognised, regularly winning international awards for feature film work, across cinematography, production design, editing, music and sound as well as writing, directing and producing.
“These highly regarded skills are reasons why Australians are in demand for international productions and we are working to develop opportunities for co-productions with Korea,” added Ms Hodges.
In an effort to grow the local industry, the Korean Film Council (KOFIC) offers co-production incentives to co-produced projects by funding production costs.
KOFIC offers a rebate of 25 per cent on foreign audio-visual production expenses for goods and services in Korea and is capped at approximately US$2 million per project. The 10 regional film commissions also offer rebates and discounts on costs incurred in regional areas.
Korea is one of the world’s largest animation producers, with over 500 animation studios employing around 86,000 animation professionals, increasing its attraction for Australia’s film industry.
In 2004, only two Korean films surpassed the 10 million theatrical admissions mark but since then 15 Korean films have done so, which has significantly enhanced Korea’s pace into the global market. With its film-friendly atmosphere and passionate audience, Korea’s film entertainment market was ranked the world’s fifth largest in 2016 by admissions size.
Jonathan Hyong-Joon Kim – former Chairman of the Korean Film Producers Association and current Chief Creative Officer, Signal Pictures – was the keynote speaker for the webinar.
Third biggest market in the world
He has produced over 25 movies over a 30-year career including the film Silmido – the first Korean film to surpass the 10 million theatrical admission mark in 2004.
“A combination of Australian and Korean box office totals is around US$2.4 billion, which makes us the third biggest market in the world, after the US and China. It would certainly be a great opportunity for both countries to expand into each other's market to broaden our horizons,” said Kim.
“However, finding appealing subjects to both countries which are genuine and natural to both parties is important,” added Kim.
Hodges said Australian films are attracting growing interest and four Australian films have previously screened at the Busan International Film Festival – Paper Planes, Kill Me Three Times, The Mule, and Wyrmwood.
Trilateral collaboration opportunities
“Paper Planes produced by Australia’s Robert Connolly with financial and creative assistance from Korea’s EMIG, who completed the 3D work for the film, is a good example of how both countries can collaborate,” said Ms Hodges.
“With the Korean film industry and Australia individually doing collaborations with China, we are trying to seek trilateral collaboration opportunities between all three countries if possible, as well as, bilateral opportunities with Australia and Korea.”
The next initiative planned is an Australia-Korea co-production roundtable held later this month in Busan, to coincide with the Busan International Film Festival which will feature four Australian films Pulse, Sweet Country, Australia Day, and Mountain.