Media forum pushes for intl. alliances


SINGAPORE -- The fourth annual Media Financing Forum opened Tuesday here with a focus on the rapid increase in international film production and development activity in Asia and a strong push for co-productions and cross-border alliances.

Government-level agreements also took center stage during the one-day forum, with a Memorandum of Understanding signed between Singapore and the Philippines. This will be followed Thursday by an MoU between Singapore and France's Canal France.

Singapore's Ministry of Information, Communication and the Arts permanent secretary Dr. Tan Chin Nam said at the signing of the Philippines MoU that there was "great potential and promise for ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) to leverage our collective culture capital for the regional and global markets."

Among the day's key messages was the need to develop more sophisticated ways to assess and manage investment risk.

Chris Chia, CEO of Singapore's Media Development Authority, announced a $10 million deal between Singapore-based Upside Down Entertainment and financing partner Cinema Solutions, which he said was evidence of progress that was being made by local companies on the media financing front. UDE is a creative and financial partnership between Singapore production company Upside Down Concepts and U.S.-based Quixotic Media Group.

UDE and Cinema Solutions will fund two English-language feature films, shot primarily in Singapore, for the international market: romantic comedy "Accidental Love" and thriller "Sky Pirate."

"There has been tremendous growth in creative talents in Asia, and we are bridging Western and Eastern funding models to bring financing to the many strong stories coming out of our region," said Chan Gin Kai, executive producer of Upside Down Concepts and Upside Down Entertainment.

Amid all the talk about making more international films, Chinese movie producer and distributor Mei Ah Entertainment brought the conversation right back to the benefits of being local, particularly in a market like China.

Mei Ah managing director Patrick Tong said there was "no harm in focusing on a local film if you can get investment return ... you may think you're spending your money on a global film, and you might be sorry."

The importance of slates was highlighted by speakers across the day's panel sessions.

"Protect your downside, invest in a slate," said Hyde Park Entertainment chairman and chief executive, Ashok Amritraj, who also advised producers to separate foreign and domestic distribution.