As the third annual Asian Side of the Doc kicks off in Tokyo, the event’s founder and CEO Yves Jeanneau (pictured) talks to realscreen about the changing Asian landscape and the opportunities for coproduction in the region.
Commissioners, producers and distributors from the West are converging on Tokyo this week for the third annual Asian Side of the Doc coproduction conference, for three full days of pitches, panels and networking one-on-ones.
The event is one of two spin-offs from the annual Sunny Side of the Doc conference, which takes place each June in Western France. And, like its sister event Latin Side of the Doc, which moves locations around Latin America, Asian Side is a smaller and more specialized affair.
And despite the naming similarity, Sunny Side founder and CEO Yves Jeanneau says the Asian Side event is markedly different from its French counterpart.
“Firstly, it is mainly for coproduction meetings where we are discussing projects which can be shared between Asia and the West,” Jeanneau explains. “You have no booths, you have no sales – it’s mainly for people to get know each other and to start to work with partners from the other side.
“So it’s truly a coproduction event. And it’s really a place where you can learn about what’s going on in Asia and they can learn what’s going on in the international market.”
In addition to having a different focus, Jeanneau also draws attention to the fact that the ratio of decision-makers (broadcasters and financiers) to producers is very favorable.
“At these documentary events, it’s very rare to have so many channels and decision-makers together,” he says. “One of the specificities of Asian Side is that the ratio between decision-makers and producers will be 1:3.
If you have a ratio of 1:3 then you are sure to meet more people than if you have a ratio 1:10. Here you can meet whoever you want because there’s enough time space and opportunity for that.”
The move to Tokyo comes after successful first and second years in Hong Kong and Seoul respectively, but also ties-in closely to the first anniversary of the tsunami and earthquakes which devastated Japan.
“We’re going to have a panel about filming disasters, because we’re one year on after the tsunami,” says Jeanneau, “but also with the earthquake in China a few years ago and all the different catastrophes in Asia, we need to think about things like how you film reconstruction and how you film investigations.
“We decided not to do too many panels, because what people really need today is networking and one-to-one meetings. So of course we are going to do ‘the Japanese market for beginners’ and things like that – explaining that the Japanese market is not only NHK. And we have a panel about coproducing with China, which will be much more concrete than last year.”
The event’s 400 or so delegates are roughly split between about 200 Asian representative and 200 Westerners. Among the buyers attending the event from the West are France Televisions’ Ann Julienne, ORF’s Andrew Solomon, NRK’s Tore Tomter, Rai’s Lorenzo Hendel, Discovery Channel Canada’s Paul Lewis, PBS Distribution’s Tom Koch, ABC Australia’s Alan Erson and the Sundance Institute’s Bruni Burres.
From the East, meanwhile, decision-makers include NHK’s Kenichi Imamura (one of 12 NHK execs attending), CCTV’s Qi Zhao, Discovery Network Asia-Pacific’s Vikram Channa, Fox/National Geographic Asia’s Mark Francis, Fuji Television Network’s Kazuya Mitani, KBS Korea’s Kenny Kihyung Bae, PTS Taiwan’s Leh Chyun Lin, Shanghai Documentary Channel’s Qiming Ying and Sun TV’s Chao-wei Chang.
Jeanneau advises Western attendees to “refresh your own mind” if attending the Asian event. “Try not to think in the way that we tend to in the Western market, where you think sales, presales, copro… here it doesn’t work like that,” he offers.
“It’s really a learning market, and it’s really important is to understand that this is a regional starting market. It’s going to evolve in the coming years, because it’s growing so fast that it’s almost certain that Asian Side is going to look like Sunny Side very soon. Even though that’s not the case yet.”