The Culture, Sports and Tourism Bureau today (November 4) announced that the Government will implement two new measures, namely the HK-Asian Film Collaboration Funding Scheme and the Content Development Scheme for Streaming Platforms under the Film Development Fund (FDF). The Funding Scheme supports collaboration between local and Asian production teams for co-production of films, while the Content Development Scheme focuses on the development of new content on streaming platforms by cross‑sectoral production teams.
The Secretary for Culture, Sports and Tourism, Mr Kevin Yeung, said at the officiating event of "New Power of Hong Kong Cinema" today that "under the National 14th Five-Year Plan, Hong Kong is tasked with the role as an East-meets-West centre for international cultural exchange, one of the major work of the Government is to promote Hong Kong's pop culture to a world audience. We strive to expand the industry's development capacity with three foci on film, TV and streaming platforms, support collaboration between local and Asian production teams for co-production of films as well as development of new content on streaming platforms by cross-sectoral production teams. The two new measures we first unveiled today will enhance the influence of Hong Kong films in Asian markets and explore new distribution channels. They will bring the Hong Kong film industry to new heights. Taking into account the existing measures, the Film Production Financing Scheme (FPFS) and the First Feature Film Initiative (FFFI), the Government has already reserved $240 million. These will further promote the development of Hong Kong films."
The Chairman of the Hong Kong Film Development Council, Dr Wilfred Wong, said that the FDF launched various measures to re-energise and support Hong Kong's film industry in 2020, with a view to helping the trade tide over the difficult period and retain industry talent. Three existing measures, namely relaxation of the FPFS, Directors' Succession Scheme (DSS) and the FFFI, have been progressing well. The three schemes have approved 32 projects during the COVID-19 pandemic which offered support and injected fresh impetus to film industry practitioners in different aspects.
Details of the two new measures of "New Power of Hong Kong Cinema" are as follows:
(1) HK-Asian Film Collaboration Funding Scheme
The scheme will subsidise film projects co-produced by filmmakers between Hong Kong and Asian countries to produce films that are rich in Hong Kong and Asian culture, and take Hong Kong films to go global. For the participating project teams, among the three main creative positions of producer, director and screenwriter, there must be at least one Hong Kong and one Asian country film practitioner. Each eligible film project will receive a grant up to $9 million.
(2) Content Development Scheme for Streaming Platforms
The scheme will be conducted through a competition to recruit participating teams to develop content of mini-series to be broadcast on streaming platforms. It aims at nurturing cross-sectoral production teams in the new age of cinema and to expand new distribution markets for the Hong Kong film industry by producing high-quality streaming platform works. The shortlisted teams must provide a detailed proposal and full script of the first six to 12 episodes. They will be awarded $0.6 million to $1.2 million for script development. Each winning team will be awarded $4.5 million from the FDF to complete the production of the first episode or first two episodes of the series.
In July 2020, the Government announced the launch of a number of measures under the FDF to help Hong Kong’s film industry tackle the acute challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Among those measures, the progress of the relaxation of the FPFS, DSS and enhancement of the FFFI are as follows:
(1) Relaxation of the FPFS
To increase the number of local film productions in the short term and render relief to film practitioners, the Government increased the actual financing amount to $9 million, granting investors priority to recover half of their investment, and disbursing financing at an earlier stage of film production. The relaxed scheme has approved 17 film production projects with a total approved amount of $96 million. In view of the response from the industry, the application period has been extended by one year to January 14, 2024.
For the purpose of encouraging directors to groom young talent and to enhance the quality and quantity of local film productions, qualified directors are invited to partner with young directors to co-produce films. Each film will be granted a subsidy of around $9 million. Ten senior directors have accepted invitations to join the scheme and the total subsidy is $90 million. The participating senior directors comprise Wong Kar-wai, Peter Chan, Mabel Cheung, Derek Yee, Gordon Chan, Stanley Kwan, Fruit Chan, Dante Lam, Wilson Yip and Sylvia Chang. They will respectively partner with young directors Ronald Zee, Wong Chun, Wong Hoi and Norris Wong (as a duo), Cheung King-wai, Tong Wai-hon, Chu Hoi-ying, Chan Kin-long, Cheung Man-ka, Cheng Wai-kei and Benny Kung Siu-ping.
(3) Enhancement of the FFFI
From the sixth edition onwards, the maximum number of winning teams under the FFFI was increased to six and the production budget for the Higher Education Institution Group has been raised to $5 million (previous cap: $3.25 million) and that of the Professional Group to $8 million (previous cap: $5.5 million). The recently completed seventh edition saw a total of 49 applications, with six winning teams selected and funding of $39 million granted. Details of the winning entries are in the Annex.
The winning teams will receive funding from the FDF to implement their winning film projects and make their first commercial feature films. They are required to complete the whole film production and sales process, which involves planning, shooting and distribution, and the teams will be provided ample opportunities to acquire practical knowledge in making a feature film along the way.
The FDF was set up in 1999. Over the years, it has funded 97 film productions and groomed 71 new directors and 21 new producers through various FDF subsidy schemes, and the productions have won in total more than 150 local and overseas awards. Since 2005, together with the $1 billion injection in 2019, the Government has injected a total of $1.54 billion into the FDF to support the local film industry along four strategic directions, namely nurturing talent, enhancing local production, expanding markets and building the audience.