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Southeast Asian Producers on Increased Budgets for Independent Films, Local Challenges: ‘We Have to Hit it Hard Right Now’

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Naman Ramachandran A heavyweight producers panel discussed the modalities of producing independent films in Southeast Asia at a mylab panel on the sidelines of the Busan International Film Festival on Thursday.

Panelists included: Liza Diño, former chair of Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) who had greenlit several films during her tenure; Indonesia’s Yulia Evina Bhara, producer of Venice-winner “Autobiography” that’s also playing at Busan; Thailand’s Donsaron Kovitvanitcha, producer of Locarno and Busan title “Arnold is a Model Student,”; and Malaysia’s Haris Sulong, producer of “Beautiful Mind.” The discussion was moderated by Variety Asia editor Patrick Frater.

Bhara said that the entry of giant global streamers into the region has had a positive effect on the quality of productions and has also driven up budgets.

Where once $100,000 was considered a high budget for independent films, now they can touch $900,000-$1 million, Bhara said. Much of the funding comes from Southeast Asian agencies like the FDCP and Singapore’s IMDA, and from European funds.

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