When asked about the reason of not making fantasy movies, movie professionals might say that the domestic market is relatively small and that this genre of films would be very expensive. Such responses remind me of Weta Workshop, which is a sponsor of Gwangmyeong Cave International Fantasy Festival (GIFFESTA).
Weta Workshop is a film studio in New Zealand where there are just 4.5 million living. Compared to the film market of New Zealand, that of Korea is about 10 times bigger. While film professionals in New Zealand where the population is so small that the market share of its domestic films is less than 5% are now taking the lead of the global fantasy market with a long-range view and resolute determination.
Here in Korea where the market share of domestic films sometimes even exceeds 50%, they say that they cannot afford fantasy films, which are a symbol of public art and high yield, merely because the market is small. Weta Workshop and Weta Digital, collectively called ‘Weta,’ participated in producing, a classic of fantasy films, and also in 2017, and. They are now focusing on. Are they able to make fantasy blockbusters just because they have a lot of money? No. The real reason is related to their conceptual design.
Weta Workshop runs a conceptual design studio with 23 designers. Conceptual designs are the deciding factor of capital investment into the film production, and creative, effective ones such as those of good fantasy films would draw more investment. In what areas of the film industry in Korea would ‘conceptual design’ get the limelight? They are games, movies, and dramas. The scale of the domestic game industry sector was as great as about 11 trillion won last year.
This indicates that last year, the game industry accounted for more than half of the amount of domestic content export. In fact, however, the influence of conceptual design in the domestic game industry is not quite insignificant yet.
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Games that are globally beloved for a long time such as and invent a world full of various concepts. Users are excited not only about game entertainment elements but also about the unique world inside such games that they cannot experience in the real world. In creating such a world, the role of conceptual design is of great importance. In other words, a world that actually does not exist in reality is conceptualized and visualized.
For the domestic game industry to take a step forward in the global game market, it needs to develop ‘conceptual design,’ as a keyword for competitive edges, that creates a unique world of no other places but Korea. The same is true with drama and film industry sectors. As various contents in many different genres such as the TV drama, the movies and were released, people got excited not only about the storytelling but also the new worlds and concepts in them. As a result, the necessity of concept designers with distinctive philosophical ideas of concept art has been more emphasized.
GIFFESTA International Fantasy Contest that was initiated in 2014 provides the best prize winner with an internship at Weta Workshop. This arrangement would have been impossible without the wholehearted support from Weta Workshop, financial support from Gwangmyeong City, and passion of Film Alchemy. Training concept designers who understand fantasy by using such internship programs, introducing conceptual design into films, dramas, and games, and leading a new era of fantasy in Korea are the very dream that Gwangmyeong is dreaming now. GIFFESTA has already conducted three internship courses in New Zealand, and eventually, in 2016, Weta Workshop hire a Korean for the first time.
For the Korean fantasy generation with a keen interest in such internship programs, interviews with two individuals who have successfully completed their internship courses are presented here.