×

Local TV channels into film biz

Gov't initiatives to boost local filmmaking

SINGAPORE — Singapore may pride itself on being regional HQ for some 19 international TV companies, but has this emphasis on TV proved detrimental — or developmental — to the country’s fledgling film industry?

Daniel Yun, managing director of MediaCorp Raintree Pictures — itself a subsidiary of the national TV broadcaster — says it’s been easier to develop the TV side of things, but film is growing slowly.

“It was possible to build up a successful TV industry despite Singapore’s relatively small population. But for the local film industry, it’s been harder to get beyond our small market size,” he says. “That said, our film industry is still very young, and there is a lot of government support to try and nurture it. The Singapore Film Commission (SFC), for example, was set up in 1998 — the same time that Raintree Pictures started.”

Certainly there are plenty of government initiatives to boost local filmmaking, from the Media Development Authority (MDA) to the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and the Economic Development Board (EDB), which was instrumental in bringing Lucasfilm Animation to Singapore’s shores.

But EDB and MDA have also been actively attracting international TV broadcasters here for the past 12 years. The city-state is now home to networks like CNBC Asia Pacific, ESPN Star Sports, HBO, Sony Pictures Entertainment Networks, Fox Intl. Channels Asia, Discovery Networks Asia and Viacom .

“The MTV production facility in Singapore has a history of 12 years. The Singapore government was enormously helpful, cooperative and eager to have MTV locate offices and production facilities here. MTV Networks Asia entered into an alliance with MDA in 2003 to collaborate on the production of the first-ever regional TV series to be aired on MTV’s channels across Asia,” says Chris Steward, exec veep of Viacom brand solutions Asia Pacific & MTV Networks Asia.

Some 30%-35% of MTV Southeast Asia channel’s content is produced in Singapore.

Discovery Networks Asia has used Singapore as a launch pad for a number of panregional initiatives, as well as benefiting from government support.

Back in 2001, in conjunction with EDB, it formed a $7.5 million content development fund to finance 50 hours of local documentary production over five years.

Network also has a close partnership with the MDA for projects like the Documentary Director’s Chair, the Gateway Asia reversioning project and two development funds established in 2005 worth $3.2 million to create 40 hours of factual programming.

According to Tom Keaveny, exec VP and managing director of Discovery Networks Asia, far from undermining the local film industry, such projects help develop local filmmaking talent.

“Both the EDB and the MDA have been very supportive of Discovery, and in return we have been committed to helping develop the local production industry and produce more ‘Made in Singapore’ content,” he says.

Steward echoes that theory. He believes in the crossover, but also that there is always room for growth and improvement.

“We believe that continued support on a bigger scale is essential if we intend to establish Singapore as a TV and film hub in the region,” he says.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Motherless Brooklyn Edward Norton

    Edward Norton Investigates Murder in 'Motherless Brooklyn' Trailer

    The trailer for Edward Norton’s forthcoming crime drama “Motherless Brooklyn” is officially out. Warner Bros.’ drama, based on the 1999 novel by Jonathan Lethem, follows Lionel Essrog, a young man who works for a small-time mobster in Brooklyn while struggling with an intense case of Tourette Syndrome. “Okay, listen, I got something wrong with me, [...]

  • Summer Box Office

    Box Office Report Card: Studios Get Their Summer Grades

    Studios got badly burned this summer. From May to August, popcorn season in movie speak, the film flops piled up and the big hits were few and far between for nearly every company except Disney. As a whole, summer did little to instill confidence in the state of moviegoing. To be sure, there were successes [...]

  • Port Authority

    Nate Parker's 'American Skin' to Play in Deauville

    Nate Parker’s politically charged drama “American Skin” is set to play at the 45th edition of the Deauville American Film Festival following its world premiere at Venice. “American Skin,” which tells the story of a Gulf War veteran whose son is killed by a police officer, marks Parker’s first feature film since the news resurfaced [...]

  • (L to R) Kristian Bruun, Melanie

    Box Office: 'Ready or Not' Finds $2 Million on Opening Day

    Horror movie “Ready or Not” scared up a $2 million opening day at 2,244 North American locations as Fox Searchlight got a two-day jump on the weekend. The figure includes $730,000 from Tuesday night previews. “Ready or Not” centers on a bride’s wedding night turning deadly when her new in-laws force her into a strange game [...]

  • Lance Reddick Angel Has Fallen

    Lance Reddick on His 'Angel Has Fallen' Role and Yale Acting Classmate Paul Giamatti

    Lance Reddick, known for tough-cop roles on such shows as “The Wire” and “Fringe” — and as a city councilman who used to be a tough cop in “Bosch” — will play the director of the Secret Service in “Angel Has Fallen,” the third installment of the “Olympus Has Fallen” series, coming to theaters Aug. 23. [...]

  • AI Technology David Beckham

    How AI Tech Is Changing Dubbing, Making Stars Like David Beckham Multilingual

    David Beckham does not speak Arabic, Hindi or Mandarin. But when the soccer legend starred in a PSA for malaria awareness this spring, he effortlessly switched among these and six other languages, thanks to cutting-edge technology that could soon change how Hollywood localizes its movies and TV shows. The PSA in question was produced with technology [...]

  • Adam Driver appears in The Report

    'The Report' Trailer: Adam Driver Investigates Post-9/11 Interrogation Tactics

    Adam Driver is in pursuit of the truth in Amazon Studio’s first look at “The Report,” a tense political drama about the CIA’s use of torture. The film focuses on Senate staffer Daniel Jones (Driver), who begins to investigate the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program, a group created in the aftermath of 9/11. As he [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content