South Korea


Treaties: France, New Zealand
Recent projects: "Night and Day" (France-Korea), "Soul Mates" (New Zealand-South Korea)

With an extended downturn in its local film industry, South Korea is looking to overseas partners and markets to put the wind back in its filmmaking sails. The country only recently joined the co-production treaty club, signing its first with France in October 2006 and its second just last month with New Zealand.

Both treaties allow co-productions to be fully entitled to all the benefits accorded to national films, thus freeing up state funding and eligibility for other incentives.

For Korea, the two treaties offer significant benefits in terms of overseas market potential. The country's cash-strapped, chiefly private-investor-reliant industry can benefit from tapping into France's wealth of public funds and New Zealand's tax incentives and location grants (up to 40% of location shooting costs).

In addition, New Zealand offers cutting-edge postproduction facilities. Streamlined visa and customs issuance for crews and equipment is also a plus.

Lee Nam-jin, president of Film Alchemy, will be the first Korean producer to benefit from the new film pact with New Zealand. "Soul Mates," a joint production with New Zealand's Touchdown Eyeworks, will shoot entirely in New Zealand in January as the treaty goes into effect.

Lee says that many Korean producers have set their sights on co-productions with ambitions to make films in English for the global market. "If they have the right project, working with a (Kiwi) producer can provide better opportunities than work with Hollywood, I think," she says.

There are benefits for both countries, she explains. "New Zealand produces only four or five films a year because of its small local market. So co-work with Korean producers also means expanding their market."

In addition to the treaties, the Korean Film Council signed a co-distribution agreement with the U.K. Film Council in 2007, allowing film exports from both countries access to print and advertising funds set up by both councils.

Korea plans to pursue agreements with Canada, Australia, China and Brazil.

-- Nigel D'Sa

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