With film budgets reflecting caution, and tax incentives forever changing the way Hollywood makes movies, Southeast Asia is cementing a growing reputation as a unique, affordable alternative. Michael Mann’s “Blackhat” set its third act in Indonesia, while this summer’s “Hitman: Agent 47” from Fox and the upcoming Ridley Scott-produced “Equals” both feature extended Singapore sequences. The thing all three films have in common, besides the continent? Their Asian segments were all produced by Mike Wiluan’s Infinite Frameworks, a Singapore-based studio at the very forefront of placing the region in international audience’s sights.
“These films are opening up the possibilities of what our integrated studio is able to achieve, and serve as good marketing platforms for the region,” Wiluan says.
To Wiluan, his region is key. His father was an early homevideo distributor in Indonesia and growing up, Wiluan was surrounded by a diverse assortment of Asian entertainment, infusing him with an appreciation for homegrown content. After graduating from film school in the U.K., he returned home with a plan to revolutionize Southeast Asia’s entertainment industry.
Unfortunately, his ambitions were almost thwarted by the 1997 Asian financial crisis — but as is often the mark of an innovator, Wiluan saw positive in the negative, perceiving an opportunity in Indonesia’s broadcasting sector.
“It allowed us to dissect the nature of the industry in this region and we were surprised to see how large the market was and the potential for massive consumerism,” he says. “There was a lack of quality domestic content, so we embarked on building a content pipeline.”
Wiluan acquired Infinite Frameworks in 2004, quickly transforming the small post-production house into a major studio that developed, produced and financed original content from local filmmakers.
Early releases included the Mo brothers’ 2009 horror film “Macabre,” Eric Khoo’s 2011 anime “Tatsumi,” and Wiluan’s partnership with HBO for the network’s first Asian show, 2013’s “Serangoon Road.”
“Our initial successes were based on the belief that the industry needed good infrastructure to grow,” says Wiluan.
“Our investments into world-class post-production, as well as animation and film studios, allowed us to see accelerated growth within the local industries. We built the first studios in Indonesia and Singapore, and … played a pivotal role in encouraging the governments to focus and incentivize the industry.”
“Our overall aim is to create a constant stream of content for our pipeline, and to produce more interesting projects on an international level,” he says.