Set visits

Four recent productions that benefited from Asian financing, locations and facilities


China Film Co-production Corp.
Zhang Xun, president; Shi Xiang, director general
2 Fuxing Menwai Ave., Xicheng District, Beijing, 100866
(Pictured: "Bodyguards and Assassins")

The phrase "shot on an historic scale" takes on double meaning when applied to "Bodyguards and Assassins," the Chinese movie to beat this Christmas.

The film, made on a backlot near Shanghai, has claims on the record books first for its size, but also for the level of detail in its replication of 1905 Hong Kong's Central district.

With a budget of $23 million, "Bodyguards" is also no small debut for newly formed production house Cinema Popular. The company was launched this year by China's Huang Jianxin ("Gimme Kudos") and Peter Chan Ho-sun ("The Warlords"), the previously Hong Kong-based producer and director, in a bid to deliver commercial cinema to mainland audiences.

The movie is an action thriller focusing on a group of unsung heroes who, possessed of extraordinary martial arts skills, help foil a 1905 assassination attempt in Hong Kong against revolutionary leader Dr. Sun Yat-sen.

Says director Teddy Chen: "I've been rehearsing this film in my mind for over 10 years, creating a vision of Central from 100 photographs from the period. In the years that I've waited to get this off the ground we put together over 1,000 images of these streets and have built a full scale set that is now 90% accurate."

-- Patrick Frater


Indonesian Film Commission
Bali Film Commission
Deborah Gabinetti
(Pictured: Behind the scenes on the 3D "Amphibious")

Making a film in 3D requires new skills, new working practices and personnel not normally found on a movie set, not least of these a "stereographer."

In the case of "Amphibious," a thriller about a giant sea scorpion that has nearly completed its location shooting in Anyer province on Indonesia's main island of Java, the stereographer is Markus Stone. An Australian mathematician, it is Stone's job to calibrate the cameras before every take, according to how aggressive the director -- veteran U.S. genre specialist Brian Yuzna -- wants the 3D effect to be.

"Amphibious" is the first of a slate of 3D movies to be produced by Komodo Films, a Indonesia-Singaporean company headed by Yuzna, the Netherlands' San Fu Maltha and Ananda Siregar, co-head of spunky Indonesian exhibitor Blitz Megaplex.

The picture was structured to make use of Singapore's new Stereoscopic 3D Film Development Fund, administered by the Media Development Authority. Through the MDA, the production is using Red cameras supplied from Singapore and a "data wrangling" team headed by Ian Wee from Singapore's Widescreen Revolutions. But it is still unclear when the fund, which only bankrolls a portion of the incremental budget hike caused by shooting in 3D, will actually commit to the picture.

-- Patrick Frater


The Film and Television Producers Guild of India
Amit Khanna, president;
G-1, Morya House, Veera Indl. Estate; Off Oshiwara Link Road, Andheri (W); Mumbai 400 053
91 22 56910662 / 91 22 26733065
(Pictured: "My Name Is Khan")

Fox Star Studios, which got a dream launch releasing the headline-grabbing "Slumdog Millionaire," but now it's getting more local. The studio recently made headlines when it acquired global distribution rights for "My Name Is Khan," a vehicle for Bollywood's biggest superstar, Shah Rukh Khan.

FSS head of marketing, distribution and syndication Vivek Krishnani says that "Khan" is a co-production between director Karan Johar's Dharma Prods. banner and Khan's Red Chillies Entertainment. "With the combined star power of Shah Rukh Khan and Karan Johar, the marketing campaign will be quite strong across various media, in addition to various brand associations," Krishnani says. Moreover, FSS aims to explore the film's international potential beyond the Indian diaspora. In the U.S., Fox Searchlight is handling "Khan," which will be the studio's next India-themed offering after "Slumdog Millionaire."

-- Nyay Bhushan

South Korea

Korean Film Council
Lee Keun-sang, director
82 2 958 7591
206-46, Cheongnyangni-dong  Dongdaemun-gu, Seoul, Korea (130-010)
(Pictured: "Take Off")

Like the mega-hit romantic comedy "200 Pounds Beauty" (2006) by director Kim Yong-hwa, KM Culture's "Take Off," Kim's new film about a national ski jumping team, was not a clear cut winner: It could have out-jumped the hill, or it could have fallen off the end of the launch pad. Luckily for KM, "Take Off" has been a smash hit. So far, the film has sold 6.3 million tickets at the local boxoffice.

When the company hit the wall, it was the Korea Export Insurance Corp. that agreed to provide a credit guarantee worth 2 billion won ($1.6 million). The export insurance firm is a government-funded agency that ultimately covers payment risks in export transaction of local film companies in exchange for promoting trade and overseas investment. Export credit insurance is rare in the Asian film industry, but not unheard of. In 2006, China Export Credit Insurance Co. (Sinosure), insured Huayi Brothers and Taihe Film Investment Co. to produce Feng Xiaogang's "The Banquet."

"Without the coverage, we would have seriously considered cutting down our marketing budget. That could have severely dampened our score at the boxoffice," says Lee Nam-hee, marketing director of KM Culture.

-- Park Soo-mee