LCQ14: Development of film industry
Following is a question by the Hon Wong Ting-kwong and a written reply by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Gregory So, in the Legislative Council today (October 28):
At the end of last month, Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. and China Media Capital announced the formation of a joint venture of US$1 billion, to be headquartered in Hong Kong, to develop and produce films for distribution around the world. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) whether it has assessed the benefits (including how the development of the film industry will be promoted) that can be brought about by the aforesaid investment project to the film industry of Hong Kong, as well as whether the project can facilitate the development of the Mainland film industry and its exchange of talents, with a view to creating more employment opportunities for local practitioners; if it has assessed, of the outcome;
(2) whether it will take this opportunity to step up its efforts to promote the film industry of Hong Kong; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and
(3) whether it has assessed if there are sufficient film-related talents in Hong Kong at present to cope with the demand arising from the future development of the film industry; whether the authorities will, as a complementary measure, adjust the policies on and measures for the training of such talents; if they will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
My reply to the Hon Wong Ting-kwong's question is as follows:
(1) The decision made by the joint venture of Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. and China Media Capital to set up its headquarters in Hong Kong highlights the international flavour of the creative industries of Hong Kong. The film industry of Hong Kong has accumulated experience in international marketing and distribution as well as market development over the years. In recent years, most of the Hong Kong-Mainland co-produced films and some Mainland films have been sold to overseas distributors through Hong Kong companies. The local film industry has in recent years actively participated in the development of the Mainland film market, and established an extensive network of business connections. These advantages will facilitate the development of Hong Kong into a bridgehead for tapping the global market for Chinese films and enable Hong Kong to give play to its role as a "super-connector" between the Mainland and the rest of the world.
In overall terms, the setting up of the headquarters in Hong Kong by the above-mentioned joint venture to develop and produce films for global distribution will promote the further development of the local film industry. In particular, this will drive economic activities carried out in Hong Kong in relation to international marketing and distribution of films, and facilitate exchanges between Hong Kong, other places and the Mainland in film production techniques as well as publicity and distribution. Moreover, subject to the joint venture's future operation strategies and whether it will produce films in Hong Kong, there may be an increase in local filmmaking and post-production activities, which will bring about new employment opportunities.
(2) The Government has all along supported the development of the film industry of Hong Kong. Before Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. and China Media Capital announced the decision to set up the headquarters of their joint venture in Hong Kong, the Chief Executive had in his 2015 Policy Address announced that the Government would further promote the development of Hong Kong's film industry through a four-pronged strategy. The initiatives include: encouraging more local film production; nurturing production talent; promoting film appreciation among students and young people to build up audiences; and showcasing and promoting the brand of "Hong Kong Films" in the Mainland, Taiwan and overseas markets, facilitating the participation of local films in international film festivals, and helping drive Hong Kong's development as a film financing platform in Asia.
To tie in with this strategy, the Government injected additional funding of $200 million into the Film Development Fund (FDF) in end May this year to support the further development of the local film industry. We have also enhanced the mechanism for financing small-to-medium film productions under the Film Production Financing Scheme (FPFS) under the FDF by raising the upper limit of the production budget of a film project from $15 million to $25 million. Moreover, a new Film Production Grant Scheme (FPGS) will shortly be introduced under the FDF to subsidise small-budget film productions with production budget not exceeding $10 million per film. The Government will provide each approved film with a grant up to 20 per cent of the approved production budget or actual production cost, whichever is lower, subject to a cap of $2 million.
The FDF will also continue to support initiatives which promote the Hong Kong film industry, including provision of subsidies for Hong Kong films to participate in international film festivals and supporting the film industry to host or participate in various publicity and promotional activities (e.g. Entertainment Expo), with a view to helping the industry expand its markets outside Hong Kong.
(3) Nurturing talent is one of the strategies adopted by the Government to promote the development of local film industry. With a drop in local film production activities in recent years, there have been fewer performance opportunities for local film talent and fewer opportunities for other practitioners to learn and master the skills. Given the relatively low level of film production activities carried out in Hong Kong, the trade has expressed a certain degree of difficulties in recruiting new blood. This has given rise to a succession gap.
In order to create more performance and production opportunities for budding talent in performing arts and behind-the-scene practitioners respectively, the Government provides small-to-medium film productions with financing or funding support through the FPFS and FPGS with a view to encouraging more commercial investment in filmmaking and related economic activities. The First Feature Film Initiative (FFFI) under the FDF seeks to address the succession gap of the local film industry by identifying and grooming a new generation of film talent. The FFFI identifies through a competition new filmmakers from among tertiary students and practitioners of the film industry who have no previous experience in directing commercial films, and provides funding support to the winning teams for producing their first feature films in a commercial mode.
Moreover, the Government will continue to provide funding support to film-related projects that are conducive to nurturing production talent. The FDF has previously sponsored training programmes for practitioners in various disciplines of film production, training programmes for projectionists on the use of digital projection systems, workshops for young people who wish to join the film industry, etc.
As regards post-secondary education, the Education Bureau and the University Grants Committee have been encouraging various institutions to design and offer programmes in the light of the manpower demand of the industry. The Commerce and Economic Development Bureau also from time to time liaises with the institutions concerned to understand the employment and articulation situations of the graduates of creative industries-related programmes, and to reflect to the institutions the views of the trade on the curricula.
Ends/Wednesday, October 28, 2015