Challenges for K-Content

The international success of Parasite and Squid Game fuels anticipation beyond South Korea‘s borders. What will the Korean creatives come up with next? During our first return trip to Seoul since the pandemic we found that producers are challenged in rapidly changing times to do more than live up to those precedents.

Inflation has raised domestic costs through a supply chain where producers are feeling the squeeze. Crew rates are up in an industry where box office sales have not recovered post pandemic.  The local purchasing power of Netflix and Disney have not made up for a broadcaster slash in TV drama series purchases.

Some problem-solving producers are looking to borrow a page from the Hollywood playbook to film entire projects abroad. Just as in tinseltown, they’re negotiating with celebrity talent to make that possible. But a rethinking of the Korean production model traveling entire departments to an overseas location is essential in order to tap into the full savings potential  of runaway production. It is a matter of trust in the local execution of production service companies.

Recent PSN Partner work on Korean titles including Reborn Rich in Turkey, The Point Men in Jordan, Taxi Driver S. 2 in Vietnam, and Reflection of You in Ireland sets the stage for future collaborations.

Despite increased local costs, Korea remains a popular filming location for foreign producers. Recent German and UK campaigns featuring Korean brand ambassadors have depended on our PSN Korea team for execution. The craze for K-Content feeds a celebrity culture second only to Hollywood as it fuels inbound film tourism from across the Asia-Pacific region. Producers in neighboring countries are proving adept at cashing in on the sum of national and local incentives that can add up to worthwhile savings for foreign projects scripted to feature scenes from Korea.  We’re helping western producers hit the same sweet spot.

"Shotime" for Japan

The trans-Pacific excitement surrounding this month’s LA Dodgers signing of MVP baseball player, Shohei Ohtani, has boosted interest in his home country of Japan – a country struggling to emerge from the doldrums of a devalued currency and lingering woes of the pandemic-plagued 2021 Olympics Games.

Commercial producers we met in Japan this fall express cautious optimism that hosting Expo 2025 in Osaka will be a significant boost for morale and business. And they were pleasantly surprised to learn from us that leading agency Dentsu is shifting industry awareness toward a sustainable approach to production with its pledge to Green The Bid. Innovations are central to commercial projects filmed this year with the support of PSN Spain for Kubota and TDK.

The groundbreaking introduction of a film incentive in Japan this year holds promise for foreign film and TV producers. The successful wrap of Max (HBO) series Tokyo Vice, S. 2 demonstrates the film potential of a country where impediments encountered by producers of John Wick and Pachinko franchises remain industry conversation points.  Determining the best local film support for a Hollywood indie is driving PSN to assemble a local team that has earned the trust of foreign producers who have filmed in Japan. In the process we’re raising PSN presence amongst Japanese film and TV producers executing their own projects abroad. The work of our PSN Philippines Partner on the Amazon Prime series Angel Flight demonstrates the potential for collaboration.

Strikes Over. What Now?

In anticipation of our Japan visit, a sushi lunch with PGA leadership began our stopover in Los Angeles. During a wide-ranging discussion on PSN engagement with member producers, we found common ground in our objectives of growing the global crew base and spreading the execution of green production. With education front of mind, we also shared our passion for groundbreaking biopic projects and the usefulness of FAM Trips like the one PSN recently coordinated in Spain with PGA participation.

Hours later PSN sponsored the PWB dinner at Shutters on the Beach in Santa Monica. Being in the room with execs. from Max (HBO), Focus Features, and Apple+, as well as producers in town to attend AFM, enabled us to have strategic conversations with decision makers in anticipation of an end to the strike crippling Hollywood production.

And so it transpired a few days later when SAG announced an end to its strike – just in time to celebrate at the PWB dinner in Houston. Conversations here pivoted to the how our global production footprint could serve producers competing for A-Team crew in film hubs worldwide. We’re pleased to see several projects on our slate for a promising 2024.

Knock-on Knockout

Putting the dismal year of 2023 behind them was the common sentiment amongst commercial producers attending year-end parties for the Association of Independent Commercial Producers (AICP) in Los Angeles and Advertising Producers Association (APA) in London.

Shoptalk at the events with our Production Liaisons revealed a perception that a lack of fresh content across the screen industry during Hollywood’s twin strikes was as unattractive for viewers as it was for advertisers. That jives with the uptick in commercial projects we’ve received at PSN since the strikes ended. It’s time to get back to (productive) work!

Breaking Down Genre Barriers

“There’s an appetite for content,” said TBWA CEO Larissa Vince who acknowledged that her agency is developing a limited series for a streaming platform that is close to greenlight.

“This is a repurposing crisis,” underlined advertising veteran David Prys-Owen during the same panel discussion at FOCUS, The Meeting Place for International Production. “You can’t drive into the future looking into the rearview mirror.” Panelists concurred that production companies and their directors can no longer be precious about the production of a film around which a campaign evolves. Production company success will be measured by a capacity to deliver shorter form content to feed social media as well as a vision to develop and execute long-form projects showcasing company-owned IP.


For nearly a decade, FOCUS organizers have demonstrated foresight by bringing influential creators from across the screen industry to London for a high-powered exchange of genre-blending ideas. The PGGB Meet The Producer podcast recording live at FOCUS to launch season 3 featured globetrotter Alex Boden, a producer who earned his stripes on commercials before credits for titles ranging from Sense 8 to the soon to be released season 2 of Tokyo Vice.

PSN has always enjoyed the gathering here and in BAFTA to reconnect in person with industry friends, including its service company Partners. Shout out to Morocco and the UK! Despite the looming threat of AI, we all find purpose in the assertion voiced by LMGI President John Rakich to a standing-room-only session featuring US and UK location managers. “Nothing beats shooting the real thing.”

Production brings us together like nothing else. There’s no substitute to fostering working relationships in person. The PWB dinner in London served up the opportunity to drop the curtain on 2023 in style. We’re wishing you a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2024!