More money for local productions
Private equity funds amounting to a whopping $400 million are now available to local animators and filmmakers for their new productions. The new-found gold mine is a mark of growing confidence in locally made films, and is derived from a mix of foreign and local investors.
Traditionally, funds for films came from ‘family, friends and fools,” explained Media Development Authority (MDA)’s assistant chief executive, Seto Lok Yin. “Now there is a fourth financing,” said Seto.
Investors have now come to realise that media investments can turn profits, especially with the growing recognition of Singapore media companies.
Singaporean filmmakers are now as good as Western production teams, said Jonathan Foo, managing director of Mega Media.
“At this point, people are not surprised to see Singapore-made content on an international channel,” said Foo, whose firm manages a fund of over $72 million slated to be used in the production of documentaries, features, animation films and television series.
Recent successes of local media include Grace Phan’s documentary Where The Sun Rises (also known as A Hero’s Journey), which has won many accolades and sold to international markets; and Secrets Of The Battleship Yamato by Singapore’s Bang and US’ Nova Productions, which ran on Discovery Channel Asia and on the Public Broadcasting System in the US.
PriceWaterhouseCoopers also reported that the double-digit annual growth in the Asia-Pacific entertainment market is growing at the fastest pace in the world.
While the numbers look rosy and the future bright, requirements are different, and more demanding, as compared with the industry’s traditional sponsor, the government, warned Upside Down‘s executive producer, Chan Gin Kai.
And because of the higher requirements, local filmmakers sometimes fail to secure funding due to the inability to sell their ideas and capabilities to investors. Some even turn up to pitch their films without a clear idea of how they will go about distributing their films, comments Foo.
“You have to show that your project will make money. Promoting family values isn’t good enough,” he advises.
The MDA also revealed that it is now working on raising the awareness about the risks, rewards and issues involved in media investments, especially to local investors.
As the industry matures, said Seto, it will lead to more investments and co-productions with foreign filmmakers, which will ultimately help locals develop the skills they need to become truly world-class.
He also revealed that the government hopes that in 15 to 20 years time, the Singapore film industry will be strong enough to stand on its own feet. This will translate to an industry capable of securing its own funding, with the government offering grants only to films that serve public policy goals.
“I’m optimistic that it will happen,” said Seto.
Original source: The Straits Times, 27 November 2007.