Lion City races to lock up international shoots

The Lion City has the reputation of being the most generous film financier in Asia. That’s not too difficult in a region where public funding of film is rare and mostly low value.

But not only does Singapore provide funding for young filmmakers and script development, it is capable of co-investing in productions alongside private-sector investors and recently agreed to put up capital into a new fund operated by Hyde Park Entertainment’s new Singapore-based Asian office.

The country’s approach goes beyond mere money and represents a holistic support network, built on the stated ambition to build Singapore into a serious media and entertainment hub. Government regards the media sector as a long-term growth industry in which, like oil refining and electronics, Singapore has the potential to punch above its weight.

So far, it has attracted regional offices from more than a dozen multinational TV groups, the Asian animation studios of Lucasfilm and the Asian HQ for Electronic Arts (which moved from rival Hong Kong), and it is now building two gambling-related entertainment complexes, which it discretely refers to as IRs, or integrated resorts. One of these will house TV studios for Mark Burnett.

Through the Media Development Authority and the Singapore Film Commission, government is backing initiatives — via the Made by Singapore program — in film, high-definition TV and vidgames.

New money appears to be flowing in. “There is now some S$500 ($385 million) available for film, TV and games development across 13 funds based in Singapore,” MDA boss Christopher Chia recently said. That was before the launch of a $400 million pool being opened by RGM, a talent manager-turned-producer that specializes in co-productions and is involved in upcoming Jan De Bont pic “Point Break 2.”

Helpfully, too, Singapore has put together a string of co-production agreements (not all are full treaties) with Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Canada and Italy, which make its own finances go further by allowing producers to tap into public funds from other countries.

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