Western indie filmmakers turn to the East
Eastern healthy box-office, investment prospects and the potential of more attractive stories are seducing more and more European filmmakers who are carrying out their productions in Asia.
Welsh director Gareth Evans has pioneered this cinematic exodus. Evans' Indonesia-shot action flick “The Raid” picked up $15 million in global takings last year surprisingly on a budget of around $1 million. After this surprising success, now the sequel to “The Raid” is being shot.
“The growing size of the Asian market is obviously a source of motivation,” said French producer Christophe Bruncher, who heads the annual “Ties that Bind” programme at festivals in South Korea's Busan and Udine in Italy. Both events bring together producers and filmmakers from Asia and Europe. He added: “But Asia is seen first as an incredible reserve of good stories and unique pictures.”
The region's box office hit an estimated $10.4 billion in takings in 2012, which marks an increase of 15% year on year. This is a significant figure is compared to roughly 6% growth in the North American market, which collected $10.8 billion.
British director Sean Ellis -Oscar-nominated for his short film “Cashback” in 2006- headed to Asia to produce a thriller he calls his “love letter to the City of Manila”. “Metro Manila” tells the story of an armed guard and won the Audience Award at the influential Sundance Film Festival in Utah last January.
“Most of my research was done in the Philippines before we started principle photography,” Ellis said. “I took every gift of detail I was given. I wanted the film to be authentic. I didn't want people saying “What does this white kid think he knows about the streets of Manila? I wanted to live it, process it and then tell a story about it.”
Ellis talked about the challenges filmmakers are facing nowadays. While the opportunities increase with the growing global market, securing financing and distribution is still a difficult task.