“You’ll encounter a one-of-a-kind service you will never find in any other place”
It was recently announced that Black Panther
will be filming on location in Busan, which is the second time for a Marvel-meets-Korea venture ever since Avengers: Age of Ultron
(2015) covered various places in Seoul. For more than a decade, the city of ‘Busan’ has been accumulating its expertise and infrastructure in location service for filming. We talked with KIM Jong-hyun, Section Chief, managing the Busan Film Commission
(BFC) location service business who related the current status and future plans of the operation.
In terms of ‘location shooting,’ what are the merits of Busan?
We have the sea, rivers and mountains. We also have cityscapes whereby some still carry the mood and tones of the 1960s and others like Marine City that projects the visual look of a high-tech city. One filmmaker mentioned that the skyscrapers in Haeundae reminded him of Hong Kong. Likewise, Busan presents diverse portraits and in this sense I believe this is why numerous films have been filmed here. And in case you happen to be on a location shoot in Busan, you’ll encounter a one-of-a-kind service you will never find in any other place. We have a different mindset when it comes to location support, and we are quite efficient in administrative performance compared to other local governments.
What about your incentive programs?
The programs have not expanded in scale, and especially, this year’s programs haven’t been fixed at the moment. Accommodations take up the largest part of this operation, and we are scheduled to open the ‘Cinema House’ this March. This venue developed in collaboration with various hotels in the Busan region is a program whereby BFC secures the accommodations which are offered to the film production at a cheaper price than the general price.
How many films are being shot on location in Busan? How many people in your operation are there handling each shoot?
A total of 90-100 audio-visual projects including films and TV dramas are being shot here per year. Currently we have 7 people including contract workers in the location service business at BFC. It would be good to have more people, but we have no problem managing things with the number of people we have at the moment.
Can you specifically describe what the ‘Film Production Liaison Workshop’ is?
This is also in line with our incentive program. In certain cases, there is a demand for recruiting local human resources. We recommend such work force we find through our workshop. Those who pass an interview are assigned to the location shoot whereby BFC pays for their labor costs. It’s a win-win program for training film-related human resources from Busan while providing the proper crew member the production team is in need of. BFC is planning to expand this program on a larger scale.
Other countries and cities around the world are currently adopting and expanding such incentive programs. Likewise, you cannot help but contemplate the competitiveness of your program.
There is a difference with our program. In other countries, it is offered as a tax rebate or tax refund, while in Korea, it is offered in the form of production support. Foreign production teams have come to Busan for location hunting on numerous occasions. And despite the fact they were quite satisfied, these visits rarely resulted in actual location shoots. We are continuously looking into and analyzing the reason for this, and I suspect it might be a matter of cost. Another thing is that there aren’t many crew members that are fluent in English. Fortunately, things have changed since Avengers: Age of Ultron. The word has gotten out and I believe the decision to shoot Black Panther in Busan is related to this. It’s true that shooting in Busan has its merits, but it cannot serve as a definitive reason for attracting film productions to choose it as a location for filming. I am sure there are complex reasons for this.
Another point about location shooting in Busan is that the level of cooperation and the attitude between locals and the government are quite enthusiastic. How was it possible to create this kind of environment?
This can be largely attributed to the Busan International Film Festival
, especially as an event that holds great meaning with its local participation and its symbolic position as the ‘film festival of Busan’. It inspired Busan’s reputation as ‘the city of film’, and Busan locals take great pride in their relationship with film which is equated with their pride in their city, Busan.
You cannot leave out the impact on tourism.
At one point, there was a sudden boom in film location-related tourism which was stalled until it is recently increasing again. We offer a film-related service ‘Cinemap’ through our website, which still needs considerable improvement. We are planning to upgrade its system and also create a mobile app. It’s something like this. For Ode To My Father
, for example, we create individual tourist courses by following Deok-soo’s (HWANG Jung-min
) life as he goes from one film location according to the film’s story to another. We will continue working on how we will improve and add more to this program.
Are there other attempts apart from the Cinemap?
We recently created a Busan film-related human resource database. Through this database we attempt to connect those who are looking for jobs in film production and those who are in need of recruiting people for film production. We hope this will be of help to film school graduates. We are planning to promote this program in various ways.
Soon the location shoot of Black Panther will take place.
Not much has been confirmed at this stage. We’re planning to hold a press conference around March as soon as the shooting locations and dates have been fixed. We’re still observing the situation. We need many crew members that are fluent in English. Anyone who is interested can contact us at BFC (82-51-7200-301).