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The 11th Asian TV Drama Conference Broadcast - The Way Forward for Drama Contents in the Multiplatform Era -

  • [등록일]2017-02-16
  • [조회] 1609

Signal, W, Another Oh Hae Young, Uncontrollably Fond ... The cast and creators of the best K-dramas of 2016 have gathered alongside the producers and writers from 8 countries for the sake of advancing Asia’s television programming. 

Hosted by the Korea Foundation for International Culture Exchange (KOFICE) and sponsored by the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism, the 11th Asian TV Drama Conference (ATDC) took place in Fukuoka, Japan from November 21 (Monday) to 24 (Thursday). Currently on its 11th year, 150 maestros behind hit dramas in 8 Asian countries, including Korea, Japan, and China, participated and thus made up the most stellar lineup to date.

Under the theme “The Way Forward for Drama Contents in the Multiplatform Era,” major writers and producers from each country gathered to intensively discuss the changes in the drama production environment brought by the digital revolution and how to respond to such changes. They also passionately engaged in a discussion to brainstorm ideas for mutually beneficial ways to cooperate across borders. The robustness of the conference was enough to dispel the cold Fukuoka winter during the four-day conference, which was comprised of the following events.

 


A.Cian’s congratulatory performance

 

The Dream to Produce Asia’s Best Drama-A Time for Interaction and Communication


“Asia is one-this conference was established to unite Asia into one. It is truly moving to see how our understanding of each other deepened over the past 11 years despite the differences in our cultures and languages. I feel that we are stepping closer to the dream of having a Korean director creating a show based on a Japanese script, featuring actors from all over Asia; a drama for the global audience.”

- Tamako Sarada, Chairperson, TV&R Writers’ Association in Japan

 


 

 

First held in Busan, South Korea in 2006, ATDC’s goal is to unite writers and producers across Asia and thus build the foundation for globally competitive TV drama shows in the region. Since then, it has served as a platform for exchange between writers and producers who lead drama production in each country and had expanded to Asia’s largest TV drama conference.

Aside from the plenary session during the four days of the conference, there were also a number of other events. Individual B2B meetings and special group discussions were arranged to promote practical networking among participants. The host country’s tourism infrastructure was also introduced during the tour, from potential film locations to possible shooting sites. As this is a rare opportunity for leaders in Asian TV to gather together, events outside the plenary session were maximized in order to encourage exchange between the participants and create opportunities to brainstorm novel projects.

 

The conference was magnificently opened with warm remarks from the president of KOFICE, Youngjin Kwak. The first day included the ATDC Awards to commend the actors and directors who contributed to the promotion of cultural exchange in Asia through TV drama. Among those who were awarded were Seo In-guk, the star of Shopaholic Louis and also popular as a singer and actor in Taiwan and Japan, and Han Dong-hwa, the director of 38 Revenue Collection Unit, which was praised for contributing to making K-dramas more diverse through its unique subject material.

Upon receiving the award, Seo In-guk said that it was an honor to receive such commendation. He was quite touched to have been chosen for the award: “I remember how happy we were while shooting the scenes. The entire cast and crew felt like a family. Today’s award ceremony will be another happy memory. I am sincerely thankful for this award.”

 

 

(From left to right) Seo In-guk, the Korean recipient of the Special Award; AIE Chairman Kobayakawa, who presented the award; 

Han Dong-hwa, K-drama director; KTRWA President Kim, Un-Kyung, who presented the Special Award to Japanese actress Mina Fujii 

 

Mina Fujii, who has also won the Asian Star Prize at the Seoul International Drama Awards, is a Japanese actress famous in both Korea and Japan. Demonstrating her graceful status as a global actress, Fujii said: “Working in Korea for the first time four years ago made me become infatuated with the appeal of TV drama in each country. I hope that the shows in each country would be able to inspire each other and lead to even more entertaining works.”

Another celebrity who received an award was Xu Ya Jun, who left Korean viewers quite an impression with his acting chops in the popular Chinese drama Good Time. Chinese maestro and Emmy winner Yan Jiangang also received a special commendation in recognition of his contribution to the development of TV dramas in Asia. In the welcome banquet that followed, new K-pop group A.Cian gave a performance along with a Japanese drum performance, turning the conference into a venue for cross-cultural exchange and harmony. Everyone communicated ardently despite the language barriers; participants took photos, relished in the banquet, and eventually warmed up to each other by introducing their works to each other.

To mark the conclusion of the event, tiny pieces of heart-shaped paper marked with the ATDC logo were sprayed across the hall like cherry blossoms. In closing, the MC remarked, “This ceremony bears the dreams and wishes of everyone here tonight.” Everyone smiled and held hands, promising to see each other again the next day. It was with this warm feeling that the first day of the 11th ATDC concluded with satisfying great expectations and overall excitement.

 


“Currently, in China, 440 million people watch videos online on their phones. This is 35.14 million higher compared to 2015. In the past, many people would sit in a line across a single TV. Now, in the Internet era, people can quickly stream contents and provide feedback in real-time basis. With the increase in the use of mobile devices and changes in life patterns brought about by smartphones, the TV drama market and consumer tendencies have also changed.” 

- Fang Zhou, Youku Tudou

 


 

 

As the plenary sessions kicked off on Day 2, the participants began to discuss how drama producers can respond to the increasing diversification of the media market with viewing devices and platforms that go beyond traditional television. Fang Zhou, the International Joint Production Manager at Youku, Hiroyuki Oho of Hulu Japan, and Yo Kawahara of Telepack each discussed the characteristics of producing drama contents for online streaming platforms; Youku, Hulu, and Netflix, respectively. 

In particular, Zhou’s presentation on “China’s Web Drama Development” was favorably received for clearly laying out how the market share for web-based mobile viewing platforms has been increasing in China through the use of various data and charts. She also explained the noteworthy growth of Chinese web dramas. Moreover, Zhou emphasized the openness and accessibility of web drama as a genre, demonstrating the potential of mobile Internet as a platform to the participants.

During the discussions, participants compared the market status and potential of web drama, which added more depth to the talks. Go-eun Jeong, producer of Samhwa Network’s web drama Bongsuni, introduced the potential of the Korean web drama market: “While the web drama market has not grown enough to be as profitable as that of China, we have seen how the TV drama version of Misaeng brought the spotlight on previously produced web series. This demonstrates how multiple platforms can synergize with each other.” Meanwhile, Hiroshi Muto, a producer from Japan, described the positive attitude toward web dramas in Japan: “While Japanese actors tend to be conservative and thus have been hesitant about new forms of media, they have been engaging more actively in web dramas as it allows artists greater freedom of frank expression.” 

 


 

Conference participants focusing on the presentation

 

“Web drama not only creates additional economic demand, but it also has infinite potential for integrated growth with film and TV shows. As the advancement of web drama does not have a negative impact on the motion picture industry, we should establish an environment in which web-based media can symbiotically coexist with traditional media.”

- Lian Shung Zhang, China Television Drama Production Industry Association


 

In the producers’ presentation that followed, the topic was on the production strategies of each country to address the previously mentioned changes in the viewing environment. During his presentation on the original series of Hulu Japan, Hiroyuki Oho shared how Hulu Japan provides its services: 1) “Sequel style,” which refers to web series that release episodes following a concluded TV series; 2) “Director’s cut style,” which refers to series that release web-only contents that were cut from the TV version; 3) “TV pilot type,” which refers to series that air the pilot on TV and the rest of the episodes on the web; and 4) “First look style,” which refers to series that release an episode a whole week prior to its TV airing date. “Relatively unknown VOD services are likely to remain obscure even if they create the most amazing shows. Thus, it has been Hulu Orginal Drama’s strategy to create a synergistic effect with powerful original stories, a stellar cast, or a connection with shows aired on TV,” Oho explained. His words demonstrated how producers continue to strive for efficient use of the increasingly diversifying platforms to secure more viewers. 

Meanwhile, Woon Ho Kim of Korea’s DoReMi Entertainment described how the new strategy for Choin Gajok, a new series set to air on both TV and the web, is being built based on the experience of releasing the web drama Sseom Nam Sseom Nyeo a few years earlier. Choin Gajok offers an “open contents production” system, which allows viewers to participate in creating the narrative through online forums and social media. The show will also take a season-based approach, which is optimized for online release, to reinforce the brand of the show itself, rather than relying on the traditional channel brand model. Moreover, it will also collaborate with the TV station SBS to aggressively use the traditional TV platform for marketing. Many participants in the conference said that they made particular note of this “two-track strategy” designed to supplement the limits of Korea's web drama, which is still in the transient stage.

“Because drama production has been based on TV so far, the multi-platform approach may seem like a new phenomenon. But, it should rather be viewed as a significant expansion of contents consumption channels. While drama was solely consumed through television before, there are now multiple avenues for immediate consumption of the contents. Therefore, it would be better to take on a different approach to each medium, instead of putting all your eggs in one basket,” Kim analyzed. Such analysis highlighted the need for contemplation on how to better integrate and utilize TVs as part of the multi-platform environment, rather than viewing it as an obsolete medium. 

 


“Telling a casual story that young people would like through short, dynamic episodes within a familiar framework that does not require too much concentration ... There can be many analyses on the reasons why Another Oh Hae Young became so popular online. As a writer, however, I never wrote my work with the concept of multi-platform in mind. It would be asking too much from writers to intentionally include all these elements of popularity I listed. Ultimately, writers can’t help but write what makes their hearts beat, whatever it is that they find interesting.”

- Hae Young Park, Korea TV & Radio Writers Association 


 

During the writers’ session in the afternoon, president of the Writers Guild of Japan, Masato Kato, as well as Liping Wang of Shanghai Media Group and Hae-young Park of Korea TV & Radio Writers Association (KTRWA) have presented their writing process on their respective dramas, Flame, Good Time, and Another Oh Hae Young, respectively. What was noteworthy is that writers have a different set of concerns regarding the multi-platform era as “creators who write.”

The writers’ positions were discussed in further depth in the presentation of Hae Young Park, the last presentor in the session. According to Park, the secret behind Another Oh Hae Young’s ability to maintain the first place in “contents power index” throughout its air was the following: 1) the protagonist and the materials were “young”; 2) the story was easy to follow; 3) the episodes were short enough to enjoy while in transit or brief viewing sessions; and 4) the story often progressed dynamically, allowing the producers to create eye-catching trailers. At the same time, Park raised concerns that such retrospective analysis may not be valid for other writers while they write their own stories. Many writers who participated in the discussion agreed. 

The discussion’s moderator, Hyun-min Jeong of KTRWA, said: “Even when we ask the senior writers, nobody writes with the multi-platform environment in their mind. The multi-platform era has expanded the playing field, allowing new writers to add fresh insight into a previously less accessible market. On the other hand, there are concerns that there will be a greater emphasis on the more tantalizing and sensual contents to draw attention within a shorter time frame.” 

“TV remains a medium shared by family members. As such, writers are driven to create stories with value and virtues beyond cheap entertainment and stimulus,” Jeong stressed. “The shift towards multi-platform is an inevitable change of the times, but I hope writers will think about the values they should honor before thinking too strategically,” he added. Jeong thus emphasized the attitude that writers should retain even amidst the changing times, and reminded the participants the TV continues to have a valid role as a traditional medium.

 


 


“The contents market is increasingly becoming more elaborate in each country. Business and commerce are also becoming more vibrant across borders. However, the ATDC is different from any ordinary contents market or drama festivals. It was a valuable time that drove us to focus on the basics of ’production“ once again, as well as to think about what it means to create these shows. I believe the important role of this conference is to make us think about such things so that we can strengthen Asian contents and thus take the next leap towards the global market.”

- Koji Kanazawa, Association of All Japan TV Program Production Companies (ATP)


 

After the eight long hours of the plenary sessions, the chairperson of the TV&R Writers’ Association in Japan, Tamako Sarada said that during the break she “asked the writers participating in ATDC for the first time about how they felt, and they all responded that it was a learning experience and a great stimulus.” She added, “According to them, the discussions inspired them with new ideas. It was a very motivating and enjoyable experience they said. I believe this conference energized everyone to continue their creative endeavors with new ideas.”

KOFICE President Youngjin Kwak offered his overall assessment of the conference: “It was a valuable time in which we could confirm how writers and producers across Asia are all trying in their own ways to adapt to the multi-platform era.” Kwak also expressed his hopes for the future saying, “As the participants here today seek the way forward for Asian drama, I believe that if we cooperate under the cultural unity of Asia, we may soon find the opportunity to have Asian contents reach the global market even more than Hollywood did.”

Drama production is undergoing unprecedentedly rapid changes, as the digital revolution has disrupted traditional media and joint productions continue across borders. Against such backdrop, ATDC sought ways for Asian drama to unite under the cultural identity of Asia and is now preparing to expand its discussion to become a global conference beyond Asia. Going back to its roots on “making drama shows,” ATDC counts to become a channel of exchange for writers and producers across the entire world in the near future.

 

※ This article is published in webzine 'December', issue of November 2016, a specialized monthly webzine about cultural industry.

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  • name  : Yu-Ri Choi
  • profile : Editor of webzine 'Hallyu Story'