Singapore Offers Funding For International Co-Productions

Warner Bros./Photofest
'Crazy Rich Asians'

The government's pledge of almost $15 million toward co-productions kicked off the Asia TV Forum & Market.

Singapore has pledged $14.7 million (S$20 million) to attract potential international production partners, the government announced as the city's Asia TV Forum & Market (ATF) officially got down to business on Wednesday.

“To be effective in the market we have to be responsive to the market rather than predefined, so this is an open call for partners,” explained Howie Lau, chief industry development officer of Singapore’s Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA).

The co-production promotion was among a raft of announcements that dropped following the official opening of AFT, hosted by Singapore’s Communications and Information Minister S Iswaran.

Expected to roll out in the first half of 2020, the IMDA initiative will provide the funds to partners as well as production facilities, and “access to talent and co-production projects curated from the region”, according to the official announcement.

On the Singapore side, the initiative hopes to “uplift local talent and capabilities and stimulate growth of new specialized media services companies in the ecosystem.”

The provisos for potential international partners is that they have a “strong regional/global domain expertise and [an] established track record in media fund management and investment capabilities.”

They must also have an office in Singapore.

“This is an open calling card for a dance partner,” Lau said. “The dance partner could come and say I want to [do] shortform. If it’s shortform, then the funding mechanism could be different, the timeline may be different. We may find a partner who wants to do film, then the process might be different again. The number of films might be different and it may be a two-year kind of project. That’s why we have left it open.

“We could find a partner interested in highly commercial films, we could find a partner interested in an indie film. What we are trying to do is start a conversation, and then accelerate that conversation.”

The most successful international co-production the city has previously hosted was the $238 million box office smash Crazy Rich Asians, which received hefty support from the Singapore Film Commission and the Singapore Tourism Board.

Other projects announced after the AFT launch included a partnership with Tencent to nurture local digital content providers and media-tech SMEs/startups with an eye on them meeting the “business demands” of the Chinese media giant’s Southeast Asian expansion plans.

Tencent launched its first overseas video streaming service in Thailand back in July, while announcing plans to explore other markets in the region. Back home in China, Tencent Video has claimed it serves more than 89 million subscribers.

The aim of this initiative, which partners IMDA with Tencent and the Hong Kong-Taiwan-China-based VS Media, was to serve as a “gateway and a landing pad” in China, according to the official announcement.