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Singapore unveils vast pic complex

Studio to be part of Mediapolis@one-north

Singapore’s first movie studio for independent and visiting foreign productions is to be built as part of a S$1 billion ($714 million) development, Mediapolis@one-north.

A consortium of public agencies and private companies will build Mediapolis on 1.5 million sq. ft. of land provided by the state.

Plans were unveiled Wednesday by Chan Yeng Kit, permanent secretary for the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts, on the first day of the three-day Asia Television Forum conference and trade show.   

The country’s leading post-production firm, Infinite Frameworks, is to be allocated 129,000 sq. ft. to develop the soundstage complex. Other facilities to be built include digital broadcast units; CGI and visual effects capacity; games and animation production facilities; media schools; and retail and recreation facilities.

The Media Development Authority’s CEO Christopher Chia acknowledged the risk of undertaking a major project as the country enters a recession, but he was upbeat about Mediapolis’ prospects.

“We have a pipeline of projects, as witnessed by the signing of the memorandum of understanding with Western Australia. Availability of talent and resources is the opposite problem,” Chia said.

The list of foreign luminaries advising on Mediapolis’ development include Warner Bros. Pictures’ Steve Papazian, USC professor Jonathan Taplin, Dune Entertainment’s Greg Coote, British media activist David Puttnam, Indian filmmaker Shekhar Kapur and financier David Moriarty, chairman of Australia’s Macquarie Communications Infrastructure Group.

Frameworks’ m.d. Mike Wiluan described the studios as “very dynamic stages,” intended to handle film or TV and including the most modern greenscreen kit and digital controls. They will likely include a large stage of 20,000-30,000 sq. ft. and two smaller stages of 8,000 sq. ft. that can be operated jointly or separately.

Four government agencies will have joint stewardship of Mediapolis: the Media Development Authority, state-owned property developer JTC, the Infocomm Development Authority and the Economic Development Board.

While officials struggled to put an overall price on the project, Philip Su, JTC’s assistant CEO, envisaged each building on the site costing upward of $57 million.

“Practically all of (the estimated S$1 billion total) is private money,” Chia said. “The government aspect is the master planning and common facilities such as roadways and access.”

Singapore’s existing sound stages are almost entirely occupied by pubcaster MediaCorp, while other stages in a casino-resort-theme park in the Sentosa district are expected to be dominated by shows produced through Mark Burnett Asia.

Singapore regards media and entertainment as major sources of economic growth. The island state earns revenue of $13 billion from the sector and aims to double that by 2015. Its policies target film production, high definition TV and integrated digital media often in co-operation with other larger countries in the region.

Also in the wings of the Asia Television Forum, the Media Development Authority signed a memorandum of understanding with the Korea IT Intl. Cooperation Agency and an HD documentary production agreement with broadcaster China Educational TV.

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