More choices for Asian television as Hooq unveils new original pilots

It’s become increasingly easy to catch shows and films you actually want to watch, when you want to watch them; and we’re not just talking about the Hollywood bigwig productions. Southeast Asia’s largest video-on-demand service Hooq is expanding its catalog and will be premiering six pilots from Singapore and around the region on Mar 22.

This Singaporean startup, a joint venture by Singtel, Song Pictures Television and Warner Bros., has actually been around for three years, and was only available in Philippines, Thailand, India and Indonesia. It wasn’t until 2016 that they decided to open up its services right here.

They then went on to set up the inaugural Hooq Filmmakers Guild last year, an initiative for budding film professionals to submit scripts for a potentially exciting TV series. It saw more than 500 submissions of a wide spectrum of genres over the two-month period, which has been whittled down to just six screenplays. Each of them was granted US$30,000 each to produce a pilot episode.

Five celebrated filmmakers from Asia, including Thailand’s Wasin Pokpong, the award-winning director, screenwriter and producer for the widely successful 2010 hit Crazy Little Thing Called Love staring heartthrob Mario Maurer, will be judging these pilots to determine which of these will be commissioned for a full series. Obviously numbers matter, so completed viewership numbers will also be factored into the decision.

The two homegrown productions that made the list are Haunt Me, a supernatural drama that tells the tale of a single dad (played by Nat Ho) who finds out about his family’s long-standing sacred family secret after moving into his family’s ancestral home; and How To Be A Good Girl, a piece that follows former socialite Frances Lee (played by Oon Shu An) as she tries to navigate life and the stigma that follows after 18 months of jail time at Changi Women’s Prison.

We haven’t seen the pilots ourselves, but we’re also cautiously excited about India’s entry, Bhak, a meta dramedy that depicts the frustrations, passion, betrayal and goings-on behind the scenes of the Bollywood industry, based on the show’s writers’ (and their friends’) real life experiences.

This is the first time this young startup is running this, and we’re interested to see it develop further. As Oman Dhas, one of two writers of Haunt Me, said during the press conference this week: “Talent without opportunity is nothing”.

All the trailers are available for viewing here.