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‘Accessibility, Biggest Hurdle To Collaborations With Africa’



… Calls For Documentary Submissions From African Filmmakers on EIDF

Asia’s leading producer of educational and documentaries production medium, Education Broadcasting System (EBS) Korea, has revealed low interconnectivity and accessibility as the biggest hurdles to collaboration with African countries.

It also implied that accessibility is to blame for its lack of broadcast content on Africa.

Manager, Department of External Affairs, of the largest independent public education broadcast service in Korea, Chang Min Soo, said although the service has met severally with African companies interested in co-productions with the service, EBS has hesitated due to the huge cost it will require to achieve the necessary high-quality interconnection.

“We have to make a lot of pre-investment in order to achieve internet and other general broadcasting and that has been a major obstacle holding us back from pursuing such interests,” Min Soo said.

Besides accessibility, there is the huge cost of co-productions which runs into millions of dollars, often times expanding to logistics, and labour.

Referencing its co-production documentary with a local Chinese company on the history of Qin Shi Huang, the King of the Eternal Empire, Producer, Jae-Eung Jeong said co-productions would be impossible without the investment of the local production partner.

Co-productions he said often requires several trips to partner countries prior to production to discuss investment funding from both sides, concept and storyline, particularly when the resulting content is targeted to Korean audience foreign audience.

“The documentary on Qin Shin Huang cost W600,000,000 the equivalent of $6m, and totals to $11m counting in all logistics costs,” said the producer who have worked on other such documentaries with Myanmar, China and France.

However, he added, co-production has its rewards, and depending on its size and type has potentials to engage large numbers of locals from involved countries as extras on set.

“Labour wise, for the Qin Shi Huang Documentary, we hired 200 local actors/actresses as extras, and 250 employees directly from EBS and the local company.”

Describing Africa as rich in cultures and natural resources, Jeong reiterated EBS interests to explore a wide variety of projects in nature, environment, history, culture and science with the continent.

“We are open to any requests or cooperation with African companies. We have been to different African countries for shooting of our broadcast content, but that is just an aspect of a production. I want to focus on the history, and subjects on Africa or an African country someday via productions,” said Jeong.

“What we are considering at the moment is building a joint venture with large foreign companies or the Korean IT companies to build infrastructure,” added Min Soo.

Meantime, while no concrete co-productions plans is in the horizon between Africa and Korea, EBS is encouraging broadcasting of African contents via a global call for submissions to the EBS International Documentary Festival (EIDF), which airs winning high quality documentaries to Korean viewers. Jeong said the festival has inspired Korea’s involvement in aiding refugees arising from the Syrian War following its screening of submitted documentary, The Last Man in Alaf.

“EIDF showcases some of the globally renowned documentaries and award high quality documentaries. Countries filmmakers who wish their documentaries to be seen globally can submit them to the EIDF. The festival holds every September and the presentation of documentary films for the 2018 festival will start soon,” Jeong concluded.

EBS which is focused on complementing Korea’s education system via the provision of quality educational, cultural and lifelong learning contents, played a key role in the development of the country’s economy post the Korean War in the early 1950s.

Since its first Radio and Television broadcast in 1974 and 1980, the system has expanded its reach to include eight broadcast channels, including the three satellite channels, one IP channels. Engaging in broadcasting partnerships and consultancy with countries like Turkey, Vietnam, Chile, Cambodia, Colombia and Myanmar the service is scaling its way up to become the best global education broadcast service and production company by 2020.




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