Support, understanding at govt level vital to healthy growth of film, TV industry

Economy August 20, 2014 01:00

By Watchiranont Thongtep
The Nat

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Support and understanding at the government level are crucial to fostering healthy growth in the film and television broadcasting industry, Joachim Ng, director for industry operations at the Media Development Authority (MDA) of Singapore, said in a recen

The MDA is undeniably a key engine driving Singapore to build a competitive and sustainable media industry in a hub where content, services and applications are financed, made and traded for the global market, he said.
Under the “Singapore Media Fusion Plan” implemented in 2009, the MDA is looking to develop local talent, quality content production, a value chain, collaboration and partnership with international production companies.
Moving forward with this strategic plan, the MDA promotes the development of a cluster of seven media industries – broadcast, film, publishing, music, animation, interactive media and games – through eight grants and schemes.
The grants and schemes – Development Assistance, Production Assistance, Marketing Assistance, Talent Assistance, Enterprise Assistance, New Talent Feature Grant, Film Mentorship Initiative and Media Education Scheme – will help media companies develop and own their intellectual property and create engaging and desirable content that will enable the sector to move up the value chain, said Ng. 
They are also aimed at boosting media-sector productivity and nurturing talent, and contributing towards the cultivation of a vibrant and self-sustaining media ecosystem.
Under a five-year master plan for Singapore’s media sector, the MDA has set aside about 230 million Singaporean dollars (Bt5.88 billion) to support the industry development initiatives across the seven sectors by providing grants for talent training, content development and production, as well as helping the island-state’s media companies, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises, to grow overseas.
To facilitate overseas growth, the MDA also provides grants and facilitates content-production companies to meet international buyers at international film and TV-content festivals, such as the Cannes Film Festival, the International Film Festival Rotterdam, the Pusan International Film Festival, the Hong Kong Film Market, the BANFF World Media Festival, and MIPCOM.
Apart from that, the Singapore Film Commission (SFC) also supports and promotes Singapore talent in film-making and post-production.
The SFC was formed in 1998 and has been part of the MDA since 2003. It is made up of an advisory committee comprising 18 members from the film, arts and cultural community, and is supported by a secretariat within the MDA.
Over the years, the SFC has supported more than 500 short films, scripts and feature films, as well as film-related events in Singapore that showcase home-grown talent and works. 
Some of the notable SFC-supported films by new and upcoming film-makers are “Ilo Ilo” (Anthony Chen), “881” (Royston Tan), “Sandcastle” (Boo Junfeng) and “Where the Road Meets the Sun” (Yong Mun Chee).
In tomorrow’s edition, we look at what challenges lie ahead in turning Singapore into a regional media hub.
Note: This is the third part of a five-part series. The first and the second parts were published on August 18 and 19. The series was written as part of the author’s participation in the 2014 Asia Journalism Fellowship, a three-month training programme for 16 senior journalists across Asia, under the Temasak Foundation and the Nanyang Technological University. The programme ran from March to June in Singapore.
Key strategies
Due to the limited domestic market and pool of talent, Singapore is focusing on several key strategies for film and television broadcasting development in order to ensure a globally competitive media sector in the island-state:
1) Looking beyond Singapore 
The Media Development Authority (MDA) of Singapore encourages all home-grown film and TV content producers to keep developing quality content and market it overseas to international buyers.
The marketability of media products is related to cultural perspective, so the key markets for Singapore include Malaysia, Hong Kong, Taiwan and China.
2) Up-skilling local talent
The MDA is focused on capability-building. The authority has been working closely with the Association of Independent Producers and Six Degrees – an independent group for the arts and creative industry – to strengthen engagement with the industry and the freelancer community.
The MDA also introduces initiatives to raise media sector productivity, such as Training Allowance, which is government funding support for freelancers, and Enhanced Apprenticeship – funding support for experienced media practitioners – in order to plug manpower gaps and enable media professionals to advance their skills, both locally and overseas.
3) International partnership and collaboration
Collaborative efforts by local and international film and TV-content producers are a key strategy for developing local talent and content. Meanwhile, this is another way to help local film-makers and TV-content producers venture abroad. 
The authority is also promoting Singapore as a fascinating film-shooting location.