Singapore facility to finance int'l films


SINGAPORE -- Singapore's Media Development Authority opened a week of media business and conferencing activity here Monday by announcing the establishment of the country's first film production Loan Guarantee Facility.

The announcement came on the eve of today's opening of the Media Financing Forum and Wednesday's annual regional TV programming market, the Asia Television Forum, together with the Asia Film Market and Conference.

The LGF facility is the outcome of a collaboration between the MDA and RGM Holdings, a talent management, executive production and media financing company. It is designed to involve local producers in the production of international films, the two companies said at a press briefing in Singapore.

The facility will be used "as a catalyst to partially finance at least six international films" with a total budget of $52 million, the companies said. RGM, which will invest in as well as executive produce the films, will retain all rights.

The first two international films to be partly financed by the LGF are "The Girl in the Park" (starring Kate Bosworth and Sigourney Weaver) and "Pushing Up Daisies" (starring Rose Byrne and Jay Baruchel). Both are scheduled for release here late next year.

The LGF's financing contribution to the two movies was not disclosed. The MDA chief executive, Christopher Chia, said the MDA has guaranteed a "small amount as a token of its support."

Parties involved in the LGF include Citigroup Corporate and Investment Banking, Standard Chartered Bank, ICB Entertainment Finance (a division of Imperial Capital Bank) and private investors.

A key driver of the LGF is the creation of a specialized media-financing infrastructure in Singapore, the MDA said. This includes legal, insurance and distribution services.

"This is part of the effort to make Singapore a global media center," Chia said.

Meanwhile, the ATF, which runs Wednesday through Dec. 1, will include Korea's four major television broadcasters -- Educational Broadcasting System, Korea Broadcasting System, Munhwa Broadcasting Corp., and Seoul Broadcasting System. Another ATF first-timer is the Taiwan Animation Pavilion.

Exhibitors this year also include 22 French companies under the TV France International banner. TVFI said the higher participation this year reflects the expansion of the Asia-Pacific region for French content exporters. French program sales in Asia last year were up more than 34%, accounting for 10% of all overseas sales, TVFI said, adding that sales to China and Hong Kong more than doubled in 2005 to $4.5 million.