Institute for Screen Industries Research

Film location support organisation in Asia: Growth and prospects for collaboration project

The main goals of this project are to identify, categorize and analyse support available for filmmakers in the Asia region, especially the emergence of influential film commissions. It compares the different strategies for managing the changing role of film commissions adopted by major organisations in Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea, and maps the move toward increased cooperation among networks of Asian film commissions as well as the formation of new organizations in emerging markets such as Cambodia, China, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. The projects seeks to understand the region’s future role in film location support services to clients from overseas film and television industries wishing to benefit from the emergence of new markets in Asia.


The project explored the most important film commissions in Asia today.


Project Overview

The project’s key objectives are:

To explore the most important film commission in Asia today. These include:

  • Hong Kong services office – from its foundation as Asia’s first film commission in 1998 to the present day;
  • Busan film commission (BFC) South Korea – Asia’s largest film commission, employing 30 fulltime staff, which has positioned itself as an organizational hub in the region;
  • Sapporo-Hokkaido Contents Strategy Organization, Japan – among the most active and successful of Japan’s 100 film commissions;
  • Newly-established or planned filming support organizations in Cambodia and Thailand as well as china, Malaysia and Vietnam.
    In particular, the project looks at how Asian film commissions are now expanding beyond direct support to film production to the support and promotion of local projects and regional markets. The case of BFC is highly instructive in this regard as it provides a model which others appear eager to emulate. Founded in 1999 with a portfolio of location incentives, the BFC now takes an active role in project planning and development and offers production grants, co-production systems, strong links to powerful local government, and cost-effective environments are some of the success factors driving its current status as major regional filmmaking centre. Indeed, BFC is currently one of the world’s best funded film commissions. BFC is not alone in seeking to recruit different kinds of film and television productions to its region. The widespread investment in personnel and infrastructure is being matched by calls to consolidate a network of Asian film commissions which can work more closely together for the benefit of the region.

    In the context of Asia’s predicted economic growth over the coming decade, understanding the region’s future role in film location support services will be of vital importance to clients from overseas film and television industries anxious to benefit from the emergence of new markets in Asia.  



    The project is on-going, with the initial data and analysis focusing around South Korea and the Busan Film Commission. The data gathered during preliminary project activities suggest:

    • The main impact of Asian film commissions is economic benefit to the region in which they are based.
    • The role of Asian film commissions is expanding from location assistance and cooperation to creation of economic effect for regional development.
    • Commissions are diversifying their business fields through not just location incentives but also funding, support, planning and development with the aim of fostering regional media industries.
    • Film commissions in Asia are seeking to develop new business models for how to work with partners to manage and minimize risk.
    • Such organizations are seeking to establish closer regional ties (e.g. consolidating Asian film commission networks) both to promote and expand the Asia market and to appeal to international production companies. There is thus also strong interest in the emergence of new markets.
    The project’s findings point clearly to the rapid and on-going growth in both the number of film commissions in Asia and the range of their activities. They also suggest that understanding the changing role of Asian film commissions requires up-to-date sources of information.

    Conclusions and Recommendations

    Based on its key conclusions, the project focuses on offering recommendations on implementing strategies for pursuing business matching opportunities with Asian film commissions. These include:

    Overseas studios should employ staff with a specific remit to monitor Asian film commissions, their activities and data emerging from them. This remit may encompass:

    1. identifying commissions offering competitive edge in key areas of cost minimization (e.g. tax breaks, local government support, post-production facilities, labour, markets, public transport, health and safety regulations);
    2. cultivation and maintenance of human networks to maximize potential partnerships and play a role in emergence of future networks of Asian film commissions;
    3. understanding development strategies of newly established or proposed film commissions.
    • Studios should establish official partnerships with Asian film commissions. Such partnerships may take the shape of:
    1. shared investment in international projects of strategic importance to partners;
    2. staff mobility to foster inter-organisational understanding and cooperation;
    3. jointly sponsored bids to stakeholders and investors to facilitate international projects.
    Studios and partner Asian film commissions should use their firepower to build industry bridges in emerging regional markets. This may include:

    1. training and investment in future talent; 
    2. promoting and supporting local productions.

    Project Leader


    Stringer, Julian  

    Institute for Screen Industries Research

    The University of Nottingham
    University Park
    Nottingham, NG7 2RD