#transmedia watch Hong Kong (Summer 2013 edition v.2)

This HK Transmedia Watch follow-up post will showcase a small local student project that combines Indonesian Puppetry with transmedia elements as well as take a look at the endorsement culture and stalling strategies of local film distributors when it comes to promotion gambles that potentially maximizing the box office results.

Digital Wayang

I stumbled more less by “accident” upon this project as Facebook was targeting a sponsored post to my wall on the day of the event. Created by a group of media design students from HK Polytechnic University, this project attempts to revive the almost lost artistry of the Indonesian Puppet/Shadow Play and its vast and rich storytelling heritage by the use of digital means.

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Core of Digital Wayang was a live performance of renowned puppet artist Aldy Sanjaya who came to HK with his whole set of traditional puppets to present a part of the well known Ramayana story. He was accompanied by a set of story world supporting animations projected onto the stage.

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The project also includes a board game of which I was fortunate enough to receive one of the prototypes. A digital version of this game will soon be released as iPad app and brings the user deeper into the fascinating universe of Wayang. After the digital show Sanjaya gave an introduction to Indonesian culture and the history of his puppetry art.

IMG_7564 Digital Wayang offered a mesmerizing experience of visuals, game and culture. It gave a glimpse into how traditional art can be garner to a young audience by the use of transmedia. While the limitations of the project within this academic environment were outweighing its commercial appeal, it still displayed the potential of interdisciplinary media and experiential entertainment based on traditional storytelling and local culture. It most definitely made me research on Indonesian puppet theater and think about other ways of “media-upgrading” this unique story experience.

http://www.digitalwayang.com/

https://www.facebook.com/digitalwayang

http://digitalwayang.blogspot.hk/

Endorsement culture

The heavily buzzed local dance film The Way We Dance launched at HK theaters early August after being locked up for 5 months following its premiere screening in March 2013. The distributor applied the frequently used and favored strategy of withholding a local film, produced for a local audience, from the local market while running it on festivals all over the world. I’ll talk a bit more about this specific market stalling tactics later on, let me walk you through the marketing choreography of this film first.

Obviously, The Way We Dance comes off as HK’s version of Street Dance and taps into the most desirable target demographic imaginable. Street dancing is tremendously popular amongst local teens and even tweens, and presents its local story about following your dreams with up and coming music and model stars. Hence, the vitally important Millennial audience group is perfectly served. In fact, this concept is the wet dream of a HK producer and sounds like a money making machine. The Street Dance films have produced solid box office results so far. What could possibly go wrong with a localized version?

The traditional marketing machinery was quickly ramping up after screenings at Udine and Edinburgh. Appearances of cast and crew at preview screenings, radio shows, TV and a street performance of graffiti artists tied in with people holding up pre-selected cards with dream wishes for a nice Facebook photo. Social media was leveraged to its fullest. Events at HK universities and WeChat where actors talk, talk, talk, talk and talk… (not dance).

The 360-buzz worked. Word of mouth and reviews have been dazzling positive throughout. The distributor lined up a typhoon of veteran film stars and director legends like Ann Hui to endorse the project publicly (without understanding the culture behind it though). One could have the impression this project is a collective effort of the entire HK film industry, at least what is left of it anyway. The veterans praised the film with comparisons to the HK New Wave movement from the early 1980s. Wait! WHAT??? A film that is about street dancing and targeted to Millennials? Kids that consider everything older than 5 years is dusted movie history?

Clearly there is a significant disconnect between this traditional art film campaign and and the YouTube generation it is created for. It does not matter how often the audience sees the film’s cute actors talking about themselves and how amazing the production time was. A campaign simply renders ineffective once no one thought about how to get these kids involve and let them interact. After all it IS about dancing and music. Fast, vibrant, connected and energetic. This is what a campaign needs to serve to keep pace with its audience. What they got instead was a snail race and the films own audience outrun it the moment the crew started shooting in silence.

In fact, cinemas saw what was going on with the film’s marketing and gave it a limited amount of shows for it’s opening weekend. The first 4 days (including previews) cashed in a solid but not overwhelming HK$ 1.4 million. Considering the amount of buzz this borders at the realms of under-performance. But HK kids love the film, they want it to be a success. Hence, they jump in where the distributor failed. Large amounts of tickets are being bought up by fans, sold amongst their friends via WhatsApp, WeChat and Facebook. Others create Facebook events to get their peers mobilized. The effort was enormous and picked up speed quickly. Usually, a local film would drop in admissions during it’s first week in cinemas but The Way We Dance managed to keep steadily afloat, with a total box office of HK$ 3.54 after the 2nd weekend.

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Just as side comparison, Dante Lam’s new film Unbeatable (admittedly a more commercial and mainstream production) just made HK$ 9.46 after 4 days (including previews). Even though it got more screens in cinemas it had a slightly less buzzed traditional campaign going, mainly based on 1 single magazine cover. While Unbeatable aims for a clearly higher demographic that is fewer in numbers, I dare to say that the core message of following your dream is equally included like in The Way We Dance.

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Recently, another local release went for a similar basic marketing campaign. The horror film omnibus series Tales From The Dark. My very first encounter with Tales was at the cinema. Right in-between thundering trailers to Men of Steel and The Wolverine there was this two and a half minute something with a supposedly scary background music and a dozen of HK stars trying to convince me how horrifying and cool this flick would be. Essentially I sat through interviews disguised as trailer.

This is a very common way of promoting films. Usually the first teaser to a local production is always a 2 minute making of. Personally I find that most irritating. After all, Hollywood studios won’t show you how the Avengers look like in front of a green screen before the first teaser trailer with all the smashing effects is out there for months already.

Endorsements have become the prime objective to all marketing efforts. The actual film has become less important than the person that is endorsing it. What distributors forget is that this situation resonates very little with the Millennials demographic but rather engages a far older audience that is less willing to spend their quality time in dark rooms with small screens. Eventually the economics are simple. When distributors target the senior demographic group the box office result will be less due to the discount schemes. On top, this audience group will most likely choose weekend morning shows which brings the discount ticket price even further down.

Stalling as promotion

Let me cycle back to the notorious stalling tactics by distributors. It has become fashionable to premiere and run a HK film abroad for a period up to 1 year till it finally hits the locals screens in its own market. Usually this involves screenings at festivals while domestic press is reporting about the raving reviews and marketing stunts this film does somewhere on the other side of the globe. Ann Hui’s A Simple Life was such a case. The cultural conscious proofs this tactics right. HK audience seems to react very strongly to things that they are excluded from. Hence witnessing a local film doing its theater run in North America builds up an enormous urge to see this “forbidden” treasure once the local distributor is gracious enough to allow it to its own viewers.

Since this has proven to ensure the success of a film in HK we usually get to see all the highlights of HK  cinema for the running year during the industry’s fair Filmart in March as stealth screenings or one-off events until their actual release far later down the road. Pang Ho Cheung’s Vulgaria was such a shelved title. But different to most films it gained significance in cultural meaning and momentum during the months of hiding from the screens due to political developments and trends in HK happening in spring and summer 2012.

Apparently, some local films are being shelved for several years as the distributors wait for a miracle. Obviously the main trouble does not lie within distribution but rather the fact that local films are being produced without the slightest attempt to gather the needed market and audience research up front. In fact most local films are never intended to be appreciated by a local audience and hence will never see the point of significance for a release.

What strikes me recently is the silent underground movement of the Bollywood films on HK’s screens that discloses what’s wrong with the city’s marketing thinking of maintaining the status quo instead of pivoting to innovation. Evidently there is a growing community of HK moviegoers that appreciates the extravaganza only an Indian film can offer these days. It is a rare exception that Bollywood films get picked up by local distributors or even see a wider release despite the proven recent success of films like 3 Idiots or Barfi. However, there are still day-and-date released of all the big blockbusters.

Specialized niche distributors like Cineworld, sitting somewhere inside Chungking Mansion, with strong connections to the home land buy up entire screens and resell the tickets. Shows are usually limited but always sold out. In fact ticket sales go so well that after one of the major cinemas in town that had the seat capacity and “willingness” to book Bollywood films closed down earlier this year, shows moved to an IMAX screen.

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#transmedia watch Hong Kong (summer 2013 edition) Hong Kong’s movie marketing 2.0 and the attempt to be “transmedia”

After Hollywood’s two reigning emperors proclaimed a soon implosion of the movie industry distributors are under pressure to make this summer’s tent-pole blockbusters work. In fact the pressure is so great that even lethargic HK distributors uppen their game. The “innovations” that are hitting the streets right now would not be worth mentioning in any other city, but here in HK they are a big step forward after years of ignoring what happened in other markets.

Hurray, we got NFC!

One of the major players and often innovation implementers is JCDecaux. Simply because it runs all signages and ad spaces on the MTR, an environment with traditionally steady amount of foot-traffic as well as tech savvy consumer demographic. We have seen a great deal of escalator redesigns via custom made large scale sticker posters and turning entire corridors into Canon’s scenic photo landscapes or giant crawling babies trying to sell diapers and milk formula.

Let’s first talk about an old troublemaker, the QR code. It is still a constant in the MTR ad sphere despite the countless failing attempts of advertisers to make it work. Posters with QR codes are regarded as interactive advertising and hence can considered as paramount practice (from a HK perspective). JCD tries different ways to make them work as this means business to them. Entire poster campaigns were created that help educate the usage of QR codes.

Earlier this year JCD launched Pricerite’s virtual e-store on the MTR by installing posters displaying the company’s product range, each with a QR code that would let you order products on the spot (http://www.campaignasia.com/Article/340614,jcdecaux-helps-pricerite-launch-8216virtual-e-store8217-campaign-in-mtr.aspx). Tesco ran this campaign already 2 years ago and it was picked up in Japan and Europe before this began making sense to a HK based brand.

As Samsung gained tremendous market share on the HK smart phone sector in the past year the introduction of NFC enabled advertising has become a viable option. As integrative measure, JCD came up with a QR/NFC bundle package that not only provides the physical linkage on site but also the online content. Film distributors (and other advertisers) do not have to worry about their landing page content anymore and whether it works.

After introducing this strategy in March quick responding brands like Osim or SKII used this offer, even before Samsung itself jumped on it. Now, we see the first movie campaign rolling out with this technology, Pacific Rim. I talked about Warner’s mobile content debacle with the Dark Knight Rises last summer in my 2012 recap post. This time they simply outsourced to JCD to make it work and it really works. But then again, what do people who actually scan either of the codes get? A small mobile enabled landing page with 1 link to like the movie’s HK Facebook page and 2 links to YouTube trailers.

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Last year we were already experimenting in-house with NFC enabled posters to our projects, using the same NFC stickers like JCD is doing now. A poster would have several NFC spots and users that scan would receive different video clips according to the character pictured. However, as a standalone gimmick this did not make much sense, so we tried to include it into a wider outdoor experience concept. However, we decided to use NFC stickers for BluRay covers to our projects in order to provide an additional story extension tool.

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At the end of the day, NFC is a 1 way communication channel. So what exactly is the interactive value from JCD’s code bundle product and why should passengers on the MTR bother scanning the codes? To be honest, I have yet to see someone stopping in front of any poster and scanning a code. In fact, when I did pictures of this poster and tried the code passersby looked at me as I were crazy and would do something socially offending. Do we have a certain behavioral barrier on interacting with content in HK? Unfortunately, when it comes to regular content like this, yes. But not so much when it comes to yellow rubber ducks or cute, fluffy monsters.

Hurray, we got ice cream and games!

I also mentioned in the 2012 recap that Disney is being heading the transmedia game in HK. They continue doing so with Monster University by creating the movie’s campus in front of the Time Square shopping mall. Tie-ins with fashion brands and countless other merchandising deals flooding the city for weeks now. When something is rolling out that huge in HK it must be successful at the box office, at least that is the traditional thinking pattern. The illusion of “it’s big” always prevails over “it’s good” and people will flock to the cinemas. But will Disney break even on these marketing expenses just by the theatrical run revenue in HK? Probably not, and they do not have to anyways.

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Other distributors trying to gain some ground at the animation front. Fox started to deploy an all branded ice cream truck for its latest features The Croods and Turbo. But what is more important to Fox than animation is Wolverine this year. The studio’s very own super-hero franchise summer blockbuster that goes up against Warner’s Man of Steel and Marvel’s (Disney) Iron Man 3. Hence, the movie’s importance is so tremendous that Fox set up an interactive game screen that uses motion recognition and a touch screen to be controlled by the visitors of a 2nd tier shopping mall in Tsim Sha Tsui East.

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What we might get and others already have…

In South-Korea, CJ Entertainment experimented with the Wi-Fi Poster to get people engaged. Passersby can access a dedicated wifi network that is being send out by the poster in order to access the movie’s webpage. Ultimately this bears little potential. While the technology is intriguing it just replaces the process of scanning something with logging into an open network without having actual content value add on or interactivity with the movie’s story universe.

Last year, we also experimented in-house with image recognition apps that would overlay video content on specific photos or locations as sort of augmented reality interface for your smart phone’s camera (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UUeSLLpKsrQ). The app is called Aurasma and is connected with Google Maps. Users can create their own points of photo recognition and input own content. Recently, Getty Images picked up this technology for their “Transmedia Storytelling” campaign. The campaigns preferred carrier app is Ogle which is based upon Aurasma. In June, we had the chance to present Getty’s augmented reality enabled photo packets at the HK Webfest 2013 for the first time ever.

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While the above mentioned technology is available for your smart phone, you always need to do a step or 2 before actually “interacting” with the content given. Either downloading and installing an app or connecting to another network. I always tell participants in my transmedia seminars that they need to start thinking about how to create content for interactions with something users/audience are already using instead of establishing something new which creates additional work and education.

Something that comes this concept the closest are the Weibo walls found in Beijing cinema lobbies. You can log into the wall directly from your Weibo account on the phone and grand the wall access to your phone’s photo folder in order to add your pictures and messages to the wall by a swipe. The technology is simple. There is no direct communication between the wall and the phone, it all runs through Weibo. Hence, the possibilities for service providers/advertisers/content producers to gather a vast amount of behavioral data is enormous.

In HK we also have a number of tech startups already holding solutions that help tracking and collecting such data. When we visited this year’s exhibition of the ICT Awards 2013 Winners there were 2 companies that offered digital signages that not only provide a large touch screen solution, for example for cinema ticket bookings, but also recognize and analyze facial expressions while customers using the device. Now, content can be specifically tailored for usage. This technology also works in app form on tablets or smart phones. Admittedly, while this technology is the wet dream of every advertiser it also sounds scary as we already arrived at Spielberg’s Minority Report, with which the loop of the industry’s imminent implosion would come to a close.

Most notable Transmedia projects in Hong Kong of 2012

We will soon release our second installment of the Asian Screen and provide new updates on trends and markets in Greater China and South-East Asia. Since the report will rather focus on industry insights and interconnected relationships we want to highlight specific projects mentioned within here in greater detail with direct links and videos. Hence, this post will be a small recap on what kind of transmedia projects came out during 2012 in HK.

However, this is HK in 2012 and transmedia still has not actually gotten off the ground yet. So we will use the definition of what is a transmedia project a bit broader than usual, otherwise there would not much to report at all. Also, this is by no means a complete list. A lot of local projects do not even appear on our radar as they fail to reach a significant audience to be regarded as relevant. However, should you think we missed something/someone please do let us know in the comments below.

Webseries

Galaman

This animation series is quite the exception in HK. It is one of the most notable, creative and well-maintained transmedia projects in town. Run by Minimind Studio, a young start-up that is currently part of the HK Design Centre incubation program, Galaman is a mix of superhero and game-style comic animations with a number of episodes online. Besides building a vast story universe with a number of characters, latest episodes divert from the main hero to entertaining side characters. Every episode holds underlying social and political criticism towards the HK society and sometimes reacts to recent trends as well.

Despite the webseries primarily running on YouTube, Minimind Studio managed to find syndication effects with Yahoo HK as well as a whole catalog of merchandizing articles for all its characters. Since the team is small, a new episode will be released every 2-3 months. While the story universe keeps evolving, Galaman built a solid audience base on Facebook.

We will discuss Galaman in further detail in our upcoming report as well as within an interview with the creator.

Page: http://minimindstudio.com/galaman/

blog: http://jacso.hk/johnee

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/galamanhk

Current 7 episodes of Galaman:

Cross-over projects:

Mr French Taste

A HK-France co-production of a comedy series that ran very successful on Koldcast.tv. With an international creators team Mr French Taste is an entertaining series with a broad audience appeal on a global scale. Even though the transmedia aspects of the production fell short on season 1, the series will hopefully embrace social media integrations and story expansions with interactive nature during their next season.

Koldcast: http://www.koldcast.tv/video/the_job_interview_ep_1

Page: http://www.misterfrenchtaste.com

Microfilm series

There are very few webseries produced in HK that fall under the traditional definition of a webseries. Microfilms are running very strong recently, short films with a branded entertainment character, sponsored by corporations or brands. Such microfilm campaigns often come in a bundle of 3-6 short films and hence have a webseries character. On top, such branded entertainment is mostly produced and directed by famous feature filmmakers. One of the more relevant contributors to these microfilm series in HK is Heiward Mak. In 2012 she came out with two series. One for MTR Malls, one for LG. Story structures and character development are mostly loose and the main focus of such series always lies on staged nostalgia and generic forced emotions. Such webseries usually come with a transmedia-like marketing campaign around them. MTR Malls Popcorn campaign for example created game apps, live events at the malls as well as social media channels for fans to engage.

MTR Malls Popcorn:

LG × 麥曦茵微電影::

Feature Films

Triad

Triad was the only local feature film to adopt a transmedia campaign for its theatre release. And yes, we are talking about using transmedia for marketing purposes only. The concept of generating a story on a sole transmedia level has yet to be understood and implemented by local producers and filmmakers.

We talked about the campaign of Triads before here (https://haexagon.wordpress.com/2012/11/05/haexagon-concepts-monthly-recap-october-2012/). Sadly, since this post there have been no significant developments. In fact the entire campaign stopped at the opening weekend and the film basically flopped at HK box offices

But how do Hollywood feature films translate their transmedia marketing campaigns to HK? Usually, local distributors do not bother to localize what the US studios provide. The big campaigns of Girl With A Dragon Tattoo or Prometheus always merge down to simple posters on public transport. In fact local distributors seem to struggle a lot with the use of technology. It took two years for them to put QR codes on film posters. Such codes would lead to a flash web site and rendered quickly inappropriate.

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Only a few weeks later no film poster in town would have any QR codes at all. Even the big players like Warner failed to set up a simple movie web page for their tent pole pictures. The Dark Knight Rises would show a blank page until the opening week.

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Official trailers sometimes get deleted from YouTube. In general a distributor’s YouTube channels can get quite confusing and messy. Obligatory are localized Facebook pages that just post the usual cross-promotion efforts. Main focus across the board still lies with TV adverts, huge banners on busses and marketing stunts with meet and greet s
essions inside shopping malls.

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Disney on the other hand knows how to play the global transmedia game. Almost all their campaigns of 2012 releases are highly engaging event periods, online and offline likewise. Notable is the two months run for Wreck It Ralph. Tying in the film IP and theme to affiliated promotion partners like Samsung made Disney not only translate the game/technology aspect into all-day life but also gave audience something to connect with since Samsung’s mobile devices became highly popular in HK during the past six months.

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Admittedly, it is fairly easy for Disney to appeal to a local audience and find connection points as they are used to localize all their IPs, primarily on the audio level, on a regular basis. Naturally, having local celebrities dubbing the animated characters creates a very own eco system of marketing/ads and cross-storytelling. Of course, such an eco system is complex and hard to create. Only a few big players like Disney actually have the needed muscle to pull it off. But then again, this is still gatekeeper thinking rooted in the old film industry middle-men-system and transmedia projects (not including the ones using it for marketing sake only) have a serious potential to cut costs while achieving the same results for/with the audience.

With a bit of hesitant caution one could count Iron Sky to such an underdog example. The film finally landed in HK and closed its one year global theater run here. But how do you make a place connect to a film’s topic that is culturally not even remotely relevant in this region. The answer lies in promotion stunts and turning Nazis into pop-culture icons. Premiere parties with guests dressed in SS uniforms, an Iron Sky helicopter during the biggest music festival in town or students greeting publicly “Sieg Heil” at a screening at the HK Design Institute, it all brought dubious Nazi-Schick in our lives, at least for a couple of weeks.

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The social media team rendered excellent work with bilingual content on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/IronSkyHK ) and Youtube (http://www.youtube.com/IronSkyHK ). The traditional press work was conducted on a regular mainstream film level. For some reason (presumably to be found within the film’s financial structure) the www.ironskythemovie.com webpage turned into the HK webpage and offers promotion tie-ins for dining. Not sure how that correlates with moon Nazis though.

Now it has to be mentioned the local distributor for Iron Sky is VII Pillars Entertainment, a company founded by former Hollywood studio executives.

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Despite all those efforts Iron Sky did not turn into a box office success. It seemed like the cultural gab between pretending to be a moon Nazi and watching a film about moon Nazis was still too great. Identification and fun alone do not sell tickets.

Documentaries/short films/indies

2012 was still no breakthrough year for indies and documentary filmmakers to adopt transmedia storytelling. While the indies rely on copying the big players by selling out to studios or brankrupting themselves by employing PR agency giants to make them look like a non-indie production, documentaries were caving in to even deeper underground status with primary focus on exiling themselves from the international scene together with their Mainland Chinese network.

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Short film projects with huge transmedia potential like the recently launched Zombie Guillotines (https://www.facebook.com/ZombieGuillotines) fail entirely in online-strategy. While the time of the web launch was chooses perfectly with the Chinese mainstream film Guillotines hitting cinemas end of December the project seems to stall before it even began. After an obligatory Yahoo syndication of the short film and a more less decent view count build up on YouTube, the project offers only little to maintain a sustainable audience base. The filmmakers will definitely look for a genre festival run and maybe a follow up video. Despite this being one of the few very creative short film concepts this year that does not go for the oversaturated love/family drama kitsch there is very little room given by the creators for designing something outstanding.

The remains of the day

What becomes evident in 2012, the major social media channels for any kind of film related production are still Yahoo, Facebook and YouTube. Significant for community maintenance, but not necessary building, are Sina Weibo and WeChat. Distributors still jeopardize their entire first week box office revenue on traditional ad spent for posters,
banners and TVCs, holding on to a system that is burdened by an army of middle-men which supposedly worked for the past 50 years.

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The audience more and more turns away from cinemas. Screens have become too small, prices too high, value too low. The potential of mobile story telling has yet to be discovered. HK in 2012 was still a place where the media world was proclaimed to be flat and those who said that transmedia can make it round were burned for witchcraft. So we move on into 2013 in the hope the inquisition might cut us some slack for a proof of concept.

——

To learn more about working with Haexagon Concepts, any press inquiries or background information & references to the Asian Screen report series, contact:

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Haexagon Concepts monthly recap – October 2012

 — The monthly recap post will present you a summary of all our activities and projects during the past month as well as most relevant campaigns from film/ad/TV/web. —

 

October has been quite a busy and productive month. The team was out and about on business trips in Shanghai, Marseille and London and there have been some major developments at our veteran project Squattertown.

Staff activities:

october 8: 1st company trailer went online including our new logo animation. Also, some more PR material arrived. Besides the 2 t-shirt types, there are stickers available now.

october 9: We published our first industry report. The Asian Screen series will have a follow up report every 2-3 months on the state of selected Asian movie industries and the emergence of local transmedia projects involved. Naturally, we focus on China and HK within our first batch of reports and will subsequently move further south with case studies as our projects develop.

http://bit.ly/AsianScreen1

 

october 10-20: Marco visited the Marseille Webfest and presented Squattertown as only Asian title at the webseries market. Here a roundtable discussion Marco participated in with other webseries makers from Mexico, USA and Sweden:

After the festival he went to Power To The Pixel’s Pixel Forum at the BFI in London. At the same time, Diogo and Juergen went up north to Shanghai for the Digital Cream conference.

 

EAST SCREEN WEST SCREEN shows this month:

#125 http://kong-cast.com/east-screen-west-screen-125-journey-to-the-breast

#126 http://kong-cast.com/east-screen-west-screen-126-teddybears-and-assassins

#127 http://kong-cast.com/east-screen-west-screen-127-fruit-loopers

#128 http://kong-cast.com/east-screen-west-screen-128-bananas-is-pyjamas

Halloween Special 2012 http://kong-cast.com/east-screen-west-screen-halloween-special-2012

Project radar:

 – RealLifeConnect: Our long term partner RLC finally published its anticipated Weibo integration solutions (http://www.techinasia.com/reallifeconnect-sina-weibo-china/) and we supplied them with some video and photo material for the campaign start. The series of instruction videos we shot in late September will be online soon. All this is part of a long haul multi-media marketing and branding campaign that we deliver.

– Squattertown: Festivals all over the place for Squattertown. In October, the series ran at the Marseille Webfest and Impakt Festival in Utrecht. While the series was running in competition in Marseille, it was featured between other prominent Asian Western creations in Utrecht. As part of the No More Westerns theme the festival screened Squattertown within the How the West was One (part 2) Westerns from the East section (http://impakt.nl/festival/2012/programme/no-more-westerns-programme/screenings-no-more-westerns-programme/how-the-west-was-one-part-2-westerns-from-the-east/). It is also headed for the Mobile film Festival in Skopje, Macedonia, in early November. On top, as part of the HK Mobile Film Festival 2012 aftershock the series was featured on HK’s most popular cinema app. Episode 1 was available directly on the HK Movie iOS app for iPhones for 1 week.

Transmedia campaign radar:

There are some exciting developments going on in terms of local distributors starting to apply transmedia tools to their movie marketing campaign. Emperor Motion Pictures kicked off its campaign for TRIAD with a series of character videos on YouTube and most distinct, a fake Apple Daily (biggest tabloid media network in HK) videos. Those staged videos are accompanied by a fake Facebook triad election page (https://www.facebook.com/hengzitou) which grew quite popular within the past couple of weeks. Emporer works the film’s topic quite well, considering the timing with the US elections. There are also election posters circulating, primarily throughout Kowloon that feature the 2 main character as staged candidates which sparked threatening calls to the producers (http://my.news.yahoo.com/triad-production-receives-threats-232526363.html).

But Emporer goes a step further, implementing the extremely popular WeChat app into the game. Scaning a QR code will connect you “directly” with one of the characters. The use of WeChat is a technological loophole to reach out to a potential traveling audience beyond the border as the film will unlikely be screened in China due to topic and graphic violence.

So it’s definitely worth keeping an eye on future developments of this campaign. The movie starts on November 15th in local cinemas.

The Asian Screen – The state of China & Hong Kong’s film industry and the emergence of Transmedia

Intro:

THE ASIAN SCREEN is Haexagon Concepts’ ongoing series of industry reports on the media and entertainment market in the Greater China and East Asian region. This first installment tackles the state of Hong Kong and China’s film industry, uses of traditional and alternative media and the emergence of Transmedia within both territories.

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Report sample (excerpt):

“…For example, Hong Kong director Derek Yee’s “The Great Magician”, a comedy that starred two of Hong Kong’s most popular male actors, was a major success in Mainland China, becoming the highest-grossing domestic film in the first half of 2012. Even with a Cantonese version featuring the voices of the two leads playing in cinemas, “The Great Magician” had a Mainland Chinese comedy style that did not appeal to Hong Kong audiences. Unlike “I Love Hong Kong 2012” and “All’s Well Ends Well 2012” – both star-studded comedies with Hong Kong stars and Cantonese humor released in the same time slot – “The Great Magician” will not be among one of the top ten grossing Chinese-language films in Hong Kong in 2012.

The Hong Kong film industry also got a shocking wake-up call in 2011 when Taiwanese coming-of-age romantic comedy “You Are the Apple of My Eye” beat box office records and became the highest-grossing Chinese-language film in Hong Kong history. Compared to films starring Hong Kong superstars like Stephen Chow, Jackie Chan, Chow Yun Fat, and Andy Lau that have sat on top of that list for the past two decades, “Apple” doesn’t have any recognizable stars, and the only true appeal the film had was writer-director-novelist Giddens (making his directorial debut) and a strong word-of-mouth among the youth audience. Suddenly, Hong Kong filmmakers realized that their films don’t necessarily need big stars and huge budgets to succeed…”

 

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The Asian Screen #1

Credits:

Report Lead: Kevin Ma
Supporting Analysts: Diogo Martins, Marco Sparmberg, Juergen Hoebarth

About HAEXAGON CONCEPTS:

We are a creative think tank and transmedia workshop based in Hong Kong. We create new forms of immersive experiences for the entertainment industry by means of new media, mobile technology and the internet. We build a client’s audience for socially interactive products that will further engage and amplify their users into faithful content advocators. While developing creative and high quality projects/entertainment franchises, Haexagon Concepts is implementing a common usage of Transmedia in Hong Kong and in the future, East Asia.

To learn more about working with Haexagon Concepts, any press inquiries or background information & references to this report, contact: concepts<at>haexagon<dot>org

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