HBO Asia Thrilled To Have Joko Anwar On Board For ‘Halfworlds’, Aiming For “International Resonance”
Last Tuesday, HBO Asia held a press junket for upcoming thriller series, Halfworlds, in Batam, Indonesia. Directed by Joko Anwar, the high-profile project is currently in its second week of production.
During a conference at the Hang Lekir room of Batam’s Turi Beach Resort, HBO Asia’s Head of Production Programming, Erica North, spoke to us further about the project. Supporting her were Mike Wiluan, Chief Executive of Infinite Studios, and Karen Lai, Director of Communications at HBO Asia.
Kicking off the meeting was a clip showcasing the three projects HBO Asia has put out to date: Serangoon Road, Dead Mine, and Grace. The Singapore-based network, a subsidiary of HBO, “creates authentic and premium content for regional viewers”.
According to Erica, Halfworlds was a milestone for the team in a number of ways. For one, it’s the first time the team has worked with celebrated Indonesian director Joko Anwar.
“With Joko’s breadth of storytelling experience, he’s able to helm a series such as Halfworlds. You’ll know what we’re talking about when you see the teasers that will roll out over the next few months,” she teased attendees.
Halfworlds marks Joko Anwar’s first foray into television. Aside from directing all eight episodes of the series, Joko will also serve as co-writer. The team wishes that having him on board as a collaborator will bring a “new type of premium level content that audiences have never seen before”.
Mike Wiluan added, “Joko anwar is one of the leading directors in the region for multiple genres of film.”
“Most of the projects he’s done are feature based; this is his first series, and this is something that’s been an exciting opportunity for him as well.”
“We’ve created a situation that is interesting, dynamic and natural, and created characters that not only Indonesians but those from the rest of the region will enjoy watching as well,” he claimed.
Mike said the team is pushing the frontiers on action, drama, and visual experience, while really combining the best of Asian talent on a regional and global platform.
Halfworlds will primarily be in English but there will also be some Bahasa Indonesia thrown into the mix.
“We’re making as authentic as we can to local culture,” claimed Erica.
“It’s set in the backdrop of Jakarta, so we get to see that in the way people act and behave,” added Mike.
“Everyone will be able to relate to the references of the characters and the mythology. It’s not a Western perspective or an Asian-specific perspective on anything.”
The team hopes that Halfworlds will have international resonance.
Of all the series produced by HBO Asia to date, Serangoon Road is best-known for managing to cross over into other HBO avenues (e.g. HBO Latin America, or the holy grail, HBO) while Grace was a critically-acclaimed horror series that managed to bag several achievements at the Apollo Awards including Best Cinematography.
“When you try to delve into something creative, you try to make it better than before,” explained Erica.
“Serangoon Road was the first collaboration of its kind. That was the first time a network from Australia was producing an original series in Southeast Asia. There’s always the hope that our content can crossover internationally. Serangoon Road was distributed internationally, as was Dead Mine.”
“TV consumption and media consumption has grown increasingly global. There has never been a greater time for cross pollination across international boundaries.”
“We are on the right track.”