Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Film venture sees big potential

Film venture sees big potential

British firm links up with Maison Film


Greatguns, a London-based production house, has formed a venture with Maison Film Co of Thailand to broaden access to the fast-growing film industry in Asia.

Greatguns Bangkok was formed last year with initial capital of three million baht, 30% held by the British firm, 51% by Maison Film and the rest by small investors.

Miles Johnson, the managing director of Greatguns Bangkok, said the venture in Thailand was the second affiliate of Greatguns, which established a unit in Los Angeles in 2003.

Greatguns is one of the top 20 production houses in the UK.

Mr Johnson said Asia had big growth potential, especially the Thai film industry, which has been improving thanks to the growing experience and creativity of people working in the industry.

Thailand, he said, also offered very competitive costs for pre- and post-production work when compared with other countries in the region.

Maison Film managing director Kwanchai Sinpermkoon said the venture would help pave the way for the Thai company to enter the broader Asian market.

The six-year old firm offers a variety of services, including TV production, video presentations, music videos, documentaries and films.

Mr Kwanchai said the company also served as a centre for production co-ordination, project consultation, script writing, studio and equipment provision, full post-production service and special effects.

About 70% of the company's production clients are foreign.

He hopes the new venture will be able to raise its revenue this year by about 10% from 100 million baht earned the year before.

Nida Sudara, a member of the executive committee of Siam Studio, the parent company of Maison Film, said the venture would enable Thai professionals to learn from a world-class company.

Siam Studio, established 20 years ago, is among the oldest of the 50 production houses in the country.

Of those, 10 are associated with Siam Studio.

According to Ms Nida, Thailand has many strong points to offer film producers, including locations, competitive costs and skilled staff.

But she said the government should ease some regulations and streamline approval procedures to attract more business.

A clear policy to establish a new film school in Thailand would also help the industry.

Figures from the National Economic Social Development Board show that export revenue from the Thai film industry is still small, at less than 1% of the US$23.53 billion earned worldwide in 2006. The United States generated the most at $9.5 billion, followed by Europe at $8.5 billion and Asia Pacific at $5.4 billion.

The film shooting business in Thailand has thrived in recent years, producing about 28 billion baht in 2006. Of that, 1.9 billion baht came from foreign productions ranging from features to music videos, commercials and documentaries.

However, revenue from foreign film shooting declined sharply to 1.07 billion baht last year due to political uncertainty and the lack of any major series shot locally.

Wanasiri Morakul, the director of the Thailand Film Office, said revenue this year was projected at 1.7 billion baht, helped by three Hollywood features to be shot in Thailand in the first quarter.

They include Pink Ville by Oliver Stone, with a budget of 500 million baht for filming in Chiang Mai.

The others are Margie, with a budget of 200 million baht, and 105 Degrees, budgeted at 300 million.

More Asian directors are also expected to be active in Thailand this year to tap into the popularity of Asian movies among Thais.

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