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Producers driven by money enter new formats

Apr 26,2006
Filmmakers and television producers might as well switch the titles on their business cards.
More filmmakers are producing short TV dramas to get a quicker return on investing in the Korea wave, while TV producers are making in-house films to save on royalties and win back market share they lost to new media like the Internet.
Evidencing the new trend, “The Age of Love,” an SBS drama, was produced by Yellow Film (which also made the film “The Vampire Cop Na Do-yeol”), directed by Han Ji-seung (who also did “Fun Movie”) and written by Park Yeon-seon (who also wrote the script for “Tutoring the Age-fellow”).
Meanwhile, the broadcaster MBC has invested half of the cost for “My Scary Girl,” a recently released film. The TV network even lent cameras, lights and crew to the film production.
“They are finding ways to survive,” explained Kim Chang-gwon, an analyst at Daewoo Securities Co.
Film-related companies listed on the secondary Kosdaq market are under pressure to grow and make quick profits, according to Mr. Kim. The more products ― regardless of type or genre ― they come up with fast, the better their sales and chances of getting project financing, Mr. Kim said.
“It also could be a way of becoming an attractive target for a merger or acquisition,” he added.
Meanwhile, giant communications companies are looking for content to sell via new DMB and WiBro services, making producers realize that creating 10 small films or television shows can be better than creating one big blockbuster.
Filmmakers are also trying to catch a quicker ride on the hallyu, or Korean wave, sweeping Asia. When a television drama becomes a hit in Japan, it soon becomes adapted into a novel, its soundtrack becomes popular and its screenplay, VOD services and promotional posters of the actors instantly become hit products as well.
“People have their reasons for spending over 200 million won ($211,000) on making a single episode of a television drama,” said Kim Tae-won, a senior member of the Olive Nine, an entertainment and management company. “They want to make it successful in the Japanese market.”
Broadcasters, however, have different reasons for its attempting to make feature-length films.
“Primarily [we make films] so that we can broadcast more movies easily on television,” said Shin Hyeong-cheol, head of the film business department at SBSi.
It is difficult to obtain film broadcasting rights, particularly during the holidays when TV networks air several movies for family nights. It usually costs broadcasters 1 billion to 1.5 billion won ($1.1 to $1.6 million) to buy a film from its producers. This means it might be cheaper to simply do in-house productions and retain ownership.
Broadcasters are also trying to win back market share that new media like the Internet took away from them, said Kim Jeong-ho from the MBC Production.
Television drama producer Ahn Pan-seok recently directed the upcoming film “South of the Border,” starring Cha Seung-won. Kim Yun-cheol, the producer of the TV series “My Lovely Samsoon,” is getting ready to direct a film called “Interpreter.”
“There is not much difference technologically when creating either a television drama or a theater movie,” said Lee Jin-seok from JS Pictures. “Moreover, investors want us all to be involved in both movies and the television shows.”


by Lee Na-ree


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