23 Feb 013: Director Joe Fiorello – Crowdfunding a Hong Kong Film
Today I interview Joe Fiorello – an American director/actor based in Hong Kong. He talks about crowdfunding an independent film and the problem with Hong Kong actresses (hint – most get married and retire at 30).
He also finds it odd that to get screened in Hong Kong – local independent films need an international stamp of approval – foreign accolades first.
- Joe brought up how it was easier for Chinese indie films to attract an audience in New York than in Hong Kong. In Hong Kong, it’s more the mainstream films that attracted an audience.
- Joe shopped his feature film script in Hong Kong but producers wanted to change everything. So he took matters into his own hands and crowdfunded it. If you try to crowdfund – you need to find your audience first. “If you build it – they will come” does not apply to crowdfunding.
- He mentioned that independent Hong Kong films (those without stars) really only get into theaters if they have won accolades abroad. So what do you do if you don’t have accolades abroad?
- One idea is to pay a star for a day to have a cameo in your film.
- Or go the high concept route – where you have such a surprise twist in the story that your film starts a buzz and finds an audience. -no easy task by any means but it may just get your film into theaters.
- Joe started out by saying when he got to Hong Kong – the film industry he imagined was around 15 years ago. He mentioned that Hollywood in Asia was now in Beijing and Shanghai. If you’re planning on getting into the Chinese film space – now it seems the growth, the action is in Beijing and Shanghai.
- Joe mentioned he met his future partners for his feature film at a film festival that no longer exists in Hong Kong. I say why not create a mini-festival online?
But if you can’t find or don’t want a distribution deal then that leaves only self-distribution. Or maybe a small film is your calling card to land you gigs on other projects. Either way, Joe got out there and made a film and has credits to his name. Festivals are great for showcasing talent and networking – but if there’s none near you – then you either travel further or DYI – do it yourself marketing and distribution.
- Regarding future projects – Joe talked about his challenges with a romantic-thriller. Now his next project will be a genre project and he’ll attach recognizable faces. He said genre films tend to do better in any market so keep that in mind.
As he said and has been written about a lot – Chinese studios want to show Chinese stories can go abroad. And as Joe said and you’ve all read – China wants to expand its soft power. Chinese are also ramping up their production values and if you heard my last podcast with Brendan David of BangBang – there is a huge opportunity in VFX.
- Digital platforms are exploding. So consider a digital-only movie – that may be an easier avenue to get your film out there. Also, the growth in China is really in the 2nd and 3rd tier cities. There building more cinemas and becoming more affluent.
Resources – I’ll put links to two blogs I wrote – one is called CROWDFUNDING IN CHINA which gives you links to Chinese crowdfunding platforms. And the second is called – TARGET YOUR AUDIENCE WITH A CHINESE AVATAR – here I talk about the growth of 2nd, 3rd and 4th tier cities and how you can tailor your content to reach a bigger audience
China Hollywood Greenlight Podcast – Episode 13
Host: Caryn McCann
China Hollywood Greenlight (Blog) CROWDFUNDING IN CHINA?
014 TARGET YOUR AUDIENCE WITH A CHINESE AVATAR
GUEST: Joe Fiorello
Love Stalk: https://lovestalkmovie.wordpress.com