South Korean port city Pusan is making a bid to become the production capital of the reviving Korean film industry by constructing state-of-the art facilities and seeking to attract foreign infrastructure investment.
Development has begun on Centum City, a high-tech business and production complex half an hour from downtown Pusan. The project expects to attract investment from the usual host of service outfits and new technology manufacturing installations, but is also working to provide a digital media zone. This will focus on film production, photography and digital imaging.
Pusan's deputy mayor for political and business affairs, Choong H. Nam, said he is also in active discussions with foreign companies to build a film processing plant on the site, to serve both Korea and neighbouring countries.
Already the city's efforts to shift the industry's focus away from Seoul appear to be bearing fruit. The Pusan Film Commission, established only last year, has helped to bring some 30 films to the area, in a country that has an annual average output of only about 60 features.
Choong said that the city offers film-makers impressive logistical support including free use of helicopters and fire trucks as well as modest subsidies. These are limited to $30,000 and are tied to a production's spend in the area.
"By bringing in these projects we are creating a market demand for the post-production facilities that we have and those that we are building," said Austin Lee, executive vice president of Centum City.
Pusan is hosting the 5th Pusan International Film Festival this week (October 6-14), as well as the 3rd PPP film financing forum (October 10-12).