Southeast Asian Streamer HOOQ Unveils Filmmakers Guild Contenders

Split Second, a wildly creative Thai pilot by Dorsakun Srichoo, mixes the aesthetics of a Thai folk music troupe with the superhero genre to surprising comedic effect.

Backed by Sony Pictures Television and Warner Brothers, HOOQ competes head-to-head with Netflix in Southeast Asia, partly by supporting up-and-coming young filmmaking talent in the region.

Southeast Asian streaming platform HOOQ has unveiled the 2019 contenders for its annual HOOQ Filmmakers Guild program.

Designed to support the region's emerging talent, HOOQ's Filmmaker's Guild selects five TV series pitches from hundreds of script submissions, and then supports the filmmakers to develop their ideas into a finished pilot episode. The pilots are then broadcast on HOOQ's platform and judged by veteran Southeast Asian industry talents, with the winning project commissioned into a full series produced and aired on HOOQ.

This year's selected pilots, which premiere on HOOQ on March 1, include Thai action-comedy Split Second, Singaporean slapstick comedy She's a Terrorist and I Love Her, Thai supernatural thriller Lucky Girl, Indonesian supernatural drama Klenix, and Malaysian political thriller Babi!.

The selected projects were screened Wednesday in Bangkok, Thailand for an audience comprised of international media and regional film and television figures.

"It has been a pleasure working with the team of filmmakers, and I would like to underscore HOOQ’s commitment to support the talented filmmakers across Asia in 2019," said HOOQ's chief content officer, Jennifer Batty. "It has been a rigorous process in selecting the top five scripts to be developed into pilots and now it will be even more difficult to make a decision to commission only one series."

Headquartered in Singapore, HOOQ launched in 2015 as a startup subscription-video platform (SVOD) targeting the growing economies of Southeast Asia, which boast a collective population of approximately 650 million. The company's backers include Sony Pictures Television, Warner Brothers and  Singaporean telecom company Singtel.

During the Filmmaker's Guild's two-day event in Bangkok, the creative teams behind each project received feedback and advice from the program's international jury. This year's judges included Indonesia’s Mouly Surya, whose recent film Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts was her country's submission to the best foreign-language category at the Oscars; Indonesian veteran director Joko Anwar, Manet Dayrit and Agot Isidro of the Philippines, and Thai filmmakers Adisorn Tresirikasem and Banjong Pisanthanakun (Shutter).

“This is my second year on the judging panel and I continue to be blown away by the high standard of submissions," said Indonesian judge Surya. "Southeast Asia is booming with creative flair and I am truly proud to be part of a process that gives aspiring filmmakers the opportunity to showcase their incredible talents and original work," she added.

In addition to professional views shared with HOOQ by the jury, the winning project will also be determined by viewership numbers during the pilots' runs on the platform.

HOOQ currently operates in the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, India and Indonesia. But Indonesia, with its enormous population of 265 million, remains the company's primary focus. Over time, the company also has added a broad, ad-supported video tier (AVOD), as well as low-cost subscription day passes to go with its weekly and monthly membership offerings — accommodations to the realities of the emerging Southeast Asian consumer landscape.

The inaugural 2018 HOOQ Filmmakers Guild pilots went on to win a number of awards at regional film festivals and events, including best comedy program for Indonesia and best actress in a leading role for Singapore at the Asian Academy Creative Awards.

The winning pilot from last year, the satirical Bollywood comedy Bhak, will have its finished eight-episode first season premiere on HOOQ in April.