on 27 June 1996
LEGCO PANEL ON RECREATION AND CULTURE
Government's Position on the Proposal
to set up a Film Commission in Hong Kong
This paper informs Members of the Government's deliberations on the film industry's proposal to set up a Film Commission and our decision on it.
2. The proposal to set up a Film Commission in Hong Kong was first raised by the film industry in January 1992. The Government then conducted a detailed study on the feasibility of such a proposal in the light of consultations with this Panel and the film industry, and having regard to relevant overseas experience. The Government concluded in December 1993 that there was no pressing need to set up a Film Commission in Hong Kong.
3. The Film Commission proposal was discussed again at the meeting of this Panel held on 4 January 1996. During that meeting, we undertook to take a fresh look at the Film Commission proposal in the light of new developments such as the setting up of the Task Force on Services Promotion, and to advise Members of the outcome of Government's re-examination in the first quarter of 1996.
4. After detailed consideration, we reported back on 14 March 1996 that Government did not see a case for the setting up of a Film Commission financed by public funds. The reasons leading to this conclusion are set out in the following paragraphs.
5. When re-examining the Film Commission proposal, Government has taken into account, among others, two major factors, namely,
(a) the adequacy of Government's existing services to the film industry; and
(b) the initiatives recommended by the Financial Secretary's Task Force on Services Promotion to further promote the film industry.
6. Our re-examination reinforces our earlier conclusion that Government is already providing a wide range of services to the industry, including facilitating location shooting, protecting film copyright, maintaining close liaison with the industry, promoting Hong Kong films overseas, and promoting film as a cultural activity and as a form of art. We also find that, within the resources available, Government has maintained its existing services and provided new assistance to the film industry. As can be seen from the following paragraphs, Government is already providing the services which the film industry has envisaged will be taken up by the Film Commission.
7. Under the proposal of the film industry, the Film Commission is expected to provide -
- a forum for the film industry to discuss matters of industry-wide concern and to liaise with the Government;
- a resource centre for local and overseas film-makers to obtain information on Hong Kong shooting locations and other assistance required for film-making;
- a forum to promote the Hong Kong film industry overseas and to market the attractions of Hong Kong as a place to do film business in; and
- a forum for the film industry to seek liaison with foreign countries on copyright matters.
8. There are already a number of well-established forums to discuss issues concerning different aspects of the film industry -
- for regulatory matters, the Television and Entertainment Licensing Authority (TELA) in its capacity as the Film Censorship Authority holds regular meetings with representative bodies and associations from the industry;
- for matters relating to film as a form of art, the film sector is represented on and can seek funds from the Hong Kong Arts Development Council (HKADC) which is a statutory body set up to support and promote various art forms, including film art; and
- the Broadcasting, Culture and Sport Branch also maintains close liaison with the industry relating to policies affecting the film industry.
9. Initiatives taken by Government to facilitate filming in the territory include -
- the Information Services Department has recently produced a handy "Guide to Filming in Hong Kong" for both local and overseas film producers. The Guide sets out in concise terms relevant rules and regulations, a list of appropriate authorities to approach and relevant general information pertinent to filming in Hong Kong;
- one of the main tasks of the Police Public Relations Branch (PPRB) is to co-operate with the film industry and facilitate location shooting. To this end, the PPRB has also produced a set of advisory guidelines for film producers, installed a 24-hour telephones enquiry hotline, and tried its best to process applications as quickly as possible; and
- the film industry can also obtain specific guidelines from different departments/public bodies for shooting films in facilities or properties under their control.
10. Although the promotion of films is a matter best to be dealt with by individual film companies, Government has, nevertheless, made use of every opportunity available to promote HK films overseas and to facilitate the export of Hong Kong film products. Examples are -
- the film industry has frequently been included as part of the overseas promotion programmes headed by top Government officials in recent years; and
- the Trade and Industry Branch (TIB) and the Trade Department will continue to seize every opportunity offered in the global liberalisation of trade in services to secure better market access for our film products.
11. To promote Hong Kong as a place to do film business, the Hong Kong Tourist Association has published a brochure on filming in Hong Kong for use by foreign film producers. Its overseas offices also serve as a contact point for foreign film-makers interested in shooting films in Hong Kong to obtain information and make enquiries.
12. Government recognises the importance of protecting film copyright and therefore,
- the TIB will continue to update and improve our legal framework on the recognition and protection of intellectual property rights;
- the Intellectual Property Department will continue to keep in touch with the film industry on copyright matters and to provide relevant support to TIB in this respect; and
- the Customs and Excise Department (C&ED) will continue to protect copyright and take the necessary enforcement actions in Hong Kong. In 1995, the C&ED seized a total of 741 videotapes, 5,875 laserdiscs and 102,654 video compact discs containing pirated films.
13. Apart from the above support services relating to film as a commercial activity, Government and statutory bodies such as the Urban Council have also been providing substantive support to promote filming as a cultural activity and as a form of art, and to train talents for use by the film industry. An account of these other services can be found at the Annex.
14. In recognition of its contribution and importance to Hong Kong's economy, the Financial Secretary's Task Force on Services Promotion has selected the film industry as one of the 14 leading service industries for further promotion. The objective of the Task Force is to devise initiatives to ensure that Government adopts the policies and programmes necessary to support the territory's continued success as a major global and regional services centre.
15. Specifically for the film industry, the Task Force has produced an action agenda which is included in the Addendum to the 1996/97 Budget. In the action agenda, Government seeks to further promote and support the film industry by -
- maintaining an updated and comprehensive database to provide the necessary information to facilitate film production in Hong Kong;
- considering measures to streamline the procedures and regulations for location shooting of films in Hong Kong;
- facilitating the industry in hosting an annual International Film Market in Hong Kong starting in 1997 so as to maintain Hong Kong's status as the centre for the trading of films and film-related products in Asia; and
- exploring with local tertiary institutions the possibility of developing training programmes for the film industry.
16. The initiatives in para. 15 above are now being implemented. When successfully implemented, the first two initiatives (i.e. paras. 15(a) and (b)) will further strengthen Government's existing services to the film industry, and the last two (i.e. paras. 15(c) and (d)) will provide new support (e.g. facilitating the International Film Market) to the industry in the area of promotion and training.
17. On a wider perspective, the Trade Development Council is preparing an action plan to develop external markets for Hong Kong's services (including film products). By drawing on the expertise and resources of the TDC, the film industry can widen the scope of, and achieve better results in, its promotion programmes. To implement its action plan, the TDC is building an effective consultative network with the services sector. This includes setting up a Services Promotion Programme Committee and four advisory committees individually covering a group of industries. The film industry is represented on the "Media and Communications Services Advisory Committee".
18. Government believes that its role is to provide a conducive environment in which the film industry can grow and prosper on its own strengths. After careful and detailed consideration, Government has concluded that the proposed functions of the Film Commission are by and large already being carried out as part of its existing services to the industry. Government sees little justification to set up a Film Commission financed by public funds, especially in the face of many other competing priorities for limited resources.
19. Government fully recognises the benefits of a thriving film industry, and therefore will continue to provide a conducive environment in which the film industry can grow and prosper on its own strength. This includes maintaining a close dialogue with the film industry to understand its concerns and challenges, strengthening Government's existing support to the industry commensurate with resources available and striving to implement the initiatives recommended by the Task Force on Services Promotion.
Broadcasting, Culture and Sport Branch
The Urban Council plays an important role in promoting film as a cultural activity. The following are some examples -
- since 1977, the Urban Council has been holding a 16-day International Film Festival in Hong Kong during Easter each year;
- the Urban Council has allocated $150 million to set up a Film Archive in Hong Kong which is expected to be completed in 1998;
- the Urban Council and the Hong Kong Arts Centre have been jointly organising a "Hong Kong Independent Short Film Competition" annually since 1992; and
2. The HKADC Ordinance has explicitly included film art as one art form to be promoted and supported. A permanent Committee on Film and Media Arts has recently been established by the HKADC. A budget amount of $9 million has been allocated for 1996/97 to promote film and media arts.
3. The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, a Government subvented institution, is the nurturing ground for local performing arts talents. The School of Drama of the Academy is responsible for the development of performing artists. The School of Technical Arts provides a structured training for local students in film and theatre works. The TV/Film Division of the School of Technical Arts will introduce a degree course in TV/Film production in September this year. The Division will also become a separate School at the same time.
4. The Cinema and Television Department of the School of Communication of the Baptist University provides another major training ground for film and TV personnel. Since its establishment in 1991, the Department has produced a considerable number of talents, of whom more than 80% have joined the media and communications industry including the film industry.
Broadcasting, Culture and Sport Branch
Last Updated on 11 Jul, 1996