Next Gen Asia 2010


THR honors Next Gen Asia
Gallery: Next Gen Asia 2010 reception
Next Gen Asia: Class of 2010
Alumni notes: Class of 2009
Watering holes for the industry set

"Asia is growing up."

Those are the words of Thailand's Chookiat Sakveerakul, and they are certainly true when it comes to the entertainment sector.

The expansion of Asian entertainment is not only transforming the continent, it is also changing the lives of the young men and women The Hollywood Reporter has chosen as this year's Next Generation Asia.

The 20 executives and talent (all age 35 and under) that we've identified as the best and brightest among their peers point out just how this "growing up" is affecting them.

First, they are aware they're in a market with expanding possibilities, a feeling quite different from their contemporaries in Hollywood. Indeed, with almost two-thirds of humanity spread across its vast expanse, Asia is becoming the world's biggest entertainment market.

"Entertainment markets are at a very early stage in (places) like India and China," Indiagames' Vishal Gondal notes. "Asia will continue to be an even bigger market and possibly the biggest entertainment market in the next decade."

Second, that market itself is largely young -- and even more youth-oriented than the West (though Japan, with the world's fastest-graying population, is a notable exception). It is also much more driven by personal relationships and what the Chinese call "guanxi" -- or a network of contacts -- than Hollywood, hard as that may be to believe.

"Within Asia, the industry values contacts and relationships above all," says Lorna Tee of Hong Kong's Irresistible Films.

Adds Gondal: "The dynamics of Asia are quite different from those of the West. Doing business in Asia has a lot to do with culture, local sensitivities and thinking on your feet. You can't just take a Western concept and apply it in India or China."

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Despite the youthfulness of this market, Asia culturally values seniority, which means these young execs might have slower career trajectories than their Western counterparts. Influenced by Confucius, "In Asia, youth is a bigger advantage to artists, where the market is definitely looking for something new," says Jonah Greenberg from CAA's Beijing office. "In business, however, a little bit of gray hair can go a long way."

Another contrast with the West can be seen in the way Asia unflinchingly develops and adopts technology. Indeed, the three territories with the fastest average broadband connections in the world are South Korea, Japan and Hong Kong. All these executives are making work and investment choices that reflect that.

Along with high-speed fixed broadband connections, Asia has also been ahead of the curve in mobile Internet, with high-quality streaming to handsets and other devices already the established norm -- and that is impacting the delivery systems of the entertainment this Next Gen Asia produces.

"The lines between different types of entertainment are blurring, especially with online content," says Filipino filmmaker Adolfo Alix Jr. "You need to be able to change and adapt. It's not just about theaters; people are watching on their cell phones now, too. Filmmakers need to understand this as business people."

Technology is also shaping these up-and-comers' lives even more than the ominpresent BlackBerrys in America.

"The upside of technology is I can constantly update e-mails with my BlackBerry," Tee says. "The downside is the division between personal and work time has blurred."

She adds: "It's a 24-hour standby."