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  • Seoul to be a “Major Film Capital in Asia”

    SMG 2558
  • In the not-too-distant future, films that surpass Avatar will be produced in Seoul, and blockbusters like Iron Man and Transformers will be filmed on the streets of Seoul. Furthermore, filmmakers and screenwriters will be able to produce their films with systematic support and dream of being the second Park Chan-wook or Bong Joon-ho. “A city where films are produced and screened every day,” Seoul will be reborn as a “major film-friendly city in Asia.”

    Seoul announces its “Comprehensive Plan for Film Culture Development,” aiming to become a major film capital in Asia

    On March 25 (Wed), the Seoul Metropolitan Government announced its comprehensive plan to turn Seoul into a “major Asian film capital,” which includes establishing the “Cinematheque” in Chungmu-ro, building a film production studio, providing extensive support for struggling independent and art films, and “creating a great city to make movies.”

    Speaking about the new plan, Seoul Mayor Park Won Soon remarked, “By providing multifaceted support for Seoul’s abundant film material and human resources, we will create a foundation on which to build a promising film industry and balanced film industry ecosystem, thereby turning Seoul into a major film hub in Asia.”

    1.Film culture complex, “Seoul Cinematheque” to open in Chungmu-ro, Korea’s film mecca, in 2018

    As a first step, Chungmu-ro, a symbolic place in the Korean film industry, will become home to “Seoul Cinematheque,” a film culture complex that will surpass the reputation of Paris’ Francaise, New York’s Film Forum, and Taipei’s Film House. With the construction of this complex, the Seoul Metropolitan Government plans to revive the tradition and reputation of Chungmu-ro.

    Slated for completion by 2018, the 5,000-square-meter Seoul Cinematheque will accommodate a Classic and Independent Film Theater, Film Museum, Film Media Center, Film Exhibition Hall, and the Film Archive, which is designed to store or browse film documents.

    7,000-square-meter film production studio to be built, along with a public film set in the city

    In addition to the film culture complex, a 7,000-square-meter indoor studio specifically designated for film production and to serve as an “urban film set” will be built in Chungmu-ro, which will soon become home to renowned film institutions in Korea and from all across Asia. Through this plan, Seoul will become a major base for the development of hallyu (Korean Wave) content.

    The indoor studio, to be completed by 2018, will accommodate three studios with film sets (3,500m2) and an exhibition hall (3,500m2), thereby functioning as a production studio. Educational courses on film production, including master classes for filmmakers, will be offered at the studio, parts of which will also be used as exhibition and experience spaces for tourists who are spellbound by hallyu.

    This year, the Seoul Metropolitan Government plans to provide spaces in vacant buildings and schools to filmmakers as temporary film sets, and by 2017, it will create urban film sets that are regularly used in films but are difficult to secure as filming locations, such as police stations, courts, interview rooms, and hospitals.

    Moreover, a film cluster will be created in Sangam DMC, with a specially designated zone for filming. The purpose of the cluster is to create a foundation on which to strengthen the film industry. Through the cooperative network of the Seoul metropolitan area, including Seoul, Incheon, and Gyeonggi Province, the Seoul Metropolitan Government will also create a global filmmaking belt, connecting Goyang and Paju – Sangam and Yeouido – Incheon.

    2.Expand support for struggling independent and art films and provide comprehensive support for production, marketing, distribution, and screening

    Secondly, the Seoul Metropolitan Government will concentrate on providing support for the production and regular screenings of independent, classic, and art films in the market, where only a few dominant companies and commercial films monopolize the major film theaters. The main goal is to provide a comprehensive system, including everything from production to the marketing, distribution, and screening of independent films, for any citizen who wishes to produce films.

    For the theaters dedicated to independent, classic, and art films, the Seoul Metropolitan Government will expand support from the current one to three by 2018. Moreover, public screenings, which were held in six different places over the last year, will be expanded to 12 this year by utilizing community cultural centers and libraries, with more screening to be held in the future.

    Support programs for the production of independent films will also be reorganized. Changing the existing phased-support system, the Seoul Metropolitan Government will provide full support for outstanding independent films, covering production, marketing, distribution, and screening. In addition, the number of grants for independent films set in Seoul will be gradually increased from 25 this year to 35 by 2018.

    3.Seoul to become an ideal city for filmmaking, while Seoul Metropolitan Government-affiliated filmmakers provide support to secure filming locations in Seoul.

    Third, the Seoul Metropolitan Government will turn Seoul into an ideal city for filmmaking by creating the “Seoul Location System” and mobilizing personnel who are solely responsible for providing support and manpower for the filming of Korean and foreign films in Seoul. In New Zealand, where The Lord of the Rings was filmed, the average number of tourists per year increased by 5.6 percent, earning USD 3.8 billion in tourism income during the three years following the film’s release. Looking to this example, the Seoul Metropolitan Government has determined that movies filmed in Seoul will play a huge role in revitalizing tourism, pointing out that since the release of a Thai movie, “Hello Stranger,” which was filmed in Seoul, the number of Thai tourists to Korea has shot up by 36.5 percent (190,000 in 2009 to 260,000 in 2010).

    Building a cooperative network of public organizations, “Film Support” directors to provide comprehensive support and oversee the discovery and acquisition of film locations

    The Seoul Metropolitan Government will build a cooperative network with various public organizations, including the National Police Agency and Cultural Heritage Administration, so that “Film Support” directors affiliated with the Seoul Metropolitan Government can oversee the search for and acquisition of filming locations, instead of having the producers obtain permission from each location on their own. In addition, the city government is also looking for ways to maximize the economic benefits of providing support for films by analyzing model cases both at home and abroad. In London, for example, more than 330 public and private organizations, including the City of London and 31 districts, Transport for London, the London Police Department, and private companies, founded “Film London,” providing a one-stop support system geared toward attracting filmmakers from other countries.

    4.Seoul to expand support for production and activities of capable film creators and establish a KRW 50 billion film fund

    Fourth, the Seoul Metropolitan Government will focus on providing support for creative film personnel, such as directors, producers, and screenwriters, in anticipation of the rise of great filmmakers, such as, James Cameron and Christopher Nolan, in Korea. Currently, a large number of creative film personnel are working in less-than-perfect conditions. To remedy this, the support system aims to provide systematic support, such as work spaces and funding, so that these filmmakers can successfully attract investment and put their creations into production.

    One-stop support for film creation expanded from 18 to 30 films, funding per person also increased from KRW 8 million to 15 million

    The Seoul Metropolitan Government will increase its support for the “Director’s Zone (4,386m2)” in Sangam, which is currently occupied by over 100 film industry personnel, on average, including 58 directors and producers, 42 screenwriters, and 12 small and medium film production companies.

    The number of films that will receive comprehensive support, from planning and development to production, will be increased from the 18 last year to 30 by 2018, and funding for planning and development will be expanded from the current KRW 8 million per person to KRW 15 million by 2018.

    Seoul to create KRW 50 billion film fund, invest in films from small and medium production companies to narrow the gap between production companies and produce outstanding films

    The Seoul Metropolitan Government will also create a “film fund” of KRW 50 billion (KRW 20 billion investment from Seoul and KRW 30 billion from private investors) by 2017 in order to revitalize investment in competitive, low-budget and independent films. The funds will be invested in films produced by small- and medium-sized production companies and international joint productions. Furthermore, a set amount of the fund will be earmarked for independent and low-budget films in order to help create a fair environment where low-budget and independent film producers can produce competitive films that hold their own against those of major players.

    Provide spaces for one-person creative companies, attract investment from small and medium investors, and increase incentives for movies filmed in Seoul

    The Seoul Metropolitan Government also strives to increase film production. To this end, the government will provide spaces, as well as sustained and stable support, for small production companies with less than three employees in order to help them create films and attract investment from all around the world. It will also arrange connections between production companies and investors, such as small and medium investors as well as personal and social funds.

    In addition, by attracting foreign filmmakers to film in Seoul, the Seoul Metropolitan Government hopes to enhance Korea’s national brand and create tangible economic benefits. At the same time, the government will expand its production support for Korean films and offer a number of incentive programs to provide funding for labor costs, filming equipment rental, film sets, and studios as well.

    Images Related to Seoul’s Comprehensive Plan for Film Culture Development

    Support for Filming in Seoul – Hangangdaegyo Bridge (Film The Suspect)

    Regular Screening of Independent Films at the Chungmuro Media Center

    Good Film Screening (Outdoor Film Event)

    Support for Independent Film Production

    Support for Foreign Productions Filming in Seoul (Forever Young)

    Site of Cinematheque, near Chungmu-ro (Cho-dong, Jung-gu)

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