British-Filipino Erika North lays out the plan to work with local content creators
One streaming site we have been subscribing to for quite a time is Amazon Prime, where we have seen the original series, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, The Man in the High Castle, Modern Love, Homecoming, among others.
It was a welcome news for us that Prime Video has a strategic plan to produce and license content targeting the Philippines along its Southeast Asian neighbors, Indonesia, Thailand, and Singapore next year.
At the 2021 Asia TV Forum & Market (ATF) last week in Singapore, Erika North, director Amazon Originals Asia-Pacific, who has dual nationality, British and Filipino, spoke about the possibility of getting our locals to work with Amazon and for Prime Video to stream original local content in their global video streaming services.
“We are truly open for business, and our goal in Southeast Asia, as much as it is in every other part of the world, is to partner with the top local talents across the region to find stories and opportunities to tell their stories and amplify them for over 200 million Prime members across 240 countries and territories,” says the Master of Science from London School of Economics and Political Science graduate.
We all know billionaire Jeff Bezos founded Amazon.com in 1994 and its mission is to be “Earth’s most customer-centric company” and one of their thriving services is providing thousands of movies and TV shows through Prime Video.
More of our Filipino filmmakers should pitch their dream projects, especially now that Amazon Studios has become the first streaming service to win the Oscars for Manchester by the Sea and The Salesman.
The Amazon Studios’ “home for talent” initiative encourages the creatives to pitch original stories and series. They got the resources, the infrastructure, and the distribution to support and develop these ideas. Which is why more of our Filipino filmmakers should pitch their dream projects, especially now that Amazon Studios has become the first streaming service to win the Oscars for Manchester by the Sea (Best Screenplay, Kenneth Lonergan and Best Actor, Casey Affleck) and The Salesman (Best Foreign Film) in 2017.
“We take pitches as early as possible, or as early as anyone is ready to share them with us,” says Erika. To pitch at Prime Video, the Southeast Asia go-to-person is Raphael Phang. “Our team is very open-minded, really open to ideas,” added the former head of programming and production at HBO Asia.
With Southeast Asia’s over 600 million population, separated by diverse cultures and languages, how can they unite the audience? “When we think about the kind of content that has broken out, in many ways, the deeper and more grounded and authentic your story is, the great the propensity for it to travel,” she muses.
One example she cited is Documental, a crazy Japanese TV show bringing in a goldmine of laughs. The show created by popular comedian Hitoshi Matsumoto has been reformatted and reimagined as LOL: Last One Laughing around the world. “It is the number 1 show for Prime Video in Italy, Germany, and it’s in the top 3 among multiple markets where it launched, including Mexico, and we are thrilled about that, because truly it means we can take formats, take creative IP, and help to amplify that with creators around the world,” explains Erika.
The worldwide pandemic also affected our viewing preferences with the closure of cinemas. “I think 2021 and 2020 have told us a lot of different things,” reflects Erika. The proliferation of windows, the direct-to-consumer distribution, simultaneous launches of shows created global conversation. She added: “There truly has never been a dissolution of language barriers. There truly has never been a better time, and I would say that’s no more potent than in Asia Pacific.”
To secure their presence in the region, they are opening an office in Singapore and looking for qualified applicants. Filipinos are very welcome to join the Southeast Asia team in creative, development, production, and marketing.
Among the job openings are: director for Prime Video, South East Asia; senior manager for content acquisition, South East Asia, Prime Video; social media team leader, South East Asia, Prime Video; creative director, South-East Asia, Prime Video; and recruiting manager for entertainment, South East Asia. Visit amazon.jobs
Erika is behind The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart featuring Sigourney Weaver in Australia, and the Amazon Original The Masked Singer in Japan.
We know Mikhail Red is working on the HBO Originals, Halfworlds, and Erik Matti also created the Philippine episode of HBO Asia’s Food Lore series. These two maverick filmmakers also streams their award-winning films in Netflix.
We hope a new local talent gets to flex his/her talent and conquer Amazon Studios soon.