Country hopes sector to add to gross nat'l product, create jobs

SINGAPORE — LucasFilm, Bollywood, a 10-year plan and strong government support are all helping Singapore reinvent itself as a global media city.

With a largely white-collar workforce and plenty of manufacturing know-how, Singapore certainly has the knowledge capital. But it can’t compete in manufacturing, since neighboring countries offer much cheaper labor.

To help compete, Singapore is setting its sights on the media industry, mapping out a 10-year Media21 blueprint. Hopes are that the sector could end up contributing 3% of Singapore’s gross national product within 10 years, and create 10,000 more jobs.

The Media Development Authority’s international panel recently met to explore possibilities for increasing business in the island city-state.

“The two-day meeting focused on the global opportunities for Singapore in the international media business and how we can tap into these key issues and trends,” says Media Development Authority chairman Tan Chin Nam.

Developments so far include the October opening of LucasFilm Animation Singapore, which is producing 3-D animated TV series “Clone Wars.”

LucasFilm prexy and chief operating officer Micheline Chau describes Singapore as “a hub with incredible infrastructure and favorable immigration laws, where people live very comfortably.”

“The Intellectual Property regime, the protections that Singapore has in place, were a very important factor in setting up here,” Chau adds.

Another government body pursuing the industry is the tourism board with its Film in Singapore scheme.

A major Bollywood film recently shot 60% in Singapore, with the tourism board providing a hefty subsidy for expenses.

Singapore is also looking to boost its profile across the region with the Asia Media Festival, under way until Dec. 2. Fest combines industry-oriented film and TV markets with events open to the public such as Resfest, an animation festival and a “Star Wars” themed art exhibit.

“The scope of this festival allows us to see the best of what is going on in the media world. Who knows — the next young media personality or producer or director may well be found at the festival,” says MDA CEO Christopher Chia.

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