Good morning everyone, and thank you for inviting me to the Opening Ceremony of the Asia TV Forum & Market and ScreenSingapore.
Celebrating the Future of Asian Storytelling
Asia is a growing region for quality stories
2. I am delighted to see so many professionals from the film and TV industry gathered here to celebrate Asian storytelling. We are proud to see Asian content doing well internationally, including the popular Korean drama Descendants of the Sun, which was translated into 32 different languages, and the Indian historical epic Baahubali 2, which was released in 9000 theatres worldwide. Just last month, Singaporean filmmaker Kirsten Tan wrote about a fan who presented her with a hand-crafted stuffed toy elephant during a screening of POP AYE in Tokyo. Kirsten, a Singaporean filmmaker and IMDA scholar, has brought to life a bittersweet tale about a man travelling across Thailand with his elephant, and captured the hearts of her Japanese audience. These successes show that Asian stories are gaining popularity with global audiences.
3. We are therefore excited to have a strong showing at this year’s Singapore Media Festival as we celebrate Asian stories, talents, and achievements. For the first time, we are holding a country-of-focus programme, and we have decided to start by featuring our largest neighbour in ASEAN - Indonesia. In recognition of Indonesia’s rich media landscape and diversity of stories, this year’s Singapore International Film Festival is featuring 20 Indonesian titles, including Mouly Surya’s Cannes-acclaimed Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts, which had its Singapore premiere last Friday. We will enjoy the performances by award-winning Indonesian singer Afgansyah Reza at the Asian Television Awards 2017’s ‘live’ show on 1 December. There is also the Indonesian Lounge, where you could meet and network with independent producers and media companies from Indonesia. Singapore is honoured to have Indonesia as this year’s country-of-focus, and we hope that the Singapore Media Festival can facilitate more industry collaboration between Singapore and Indonesia. Such collaboration can also be extended to other Asian countries, and this is an area which my colleagues and I will focus on over the next few years, to grow the network of partnerships in our region and create more win-win opportunities for our companies and media professionals.
4. Sebagai pengakuan atas kekayaan Indonesia di berbagai media dan cerita, Festival Filem Internasional Singapura tahun ini menampilkan dua puluh judul filem Indonesia. Ada juga Indonesian Lounge, tempat di mana anda bisa bertemu dan menjalin kerjasama dengan para produser independen dan perusahaan media dari Indonesia. Singapura merasa terhormat memiliki Indonesia sebagai negara “fokus” pada tahun ini dan kami berharap bahawa Singapore Media Festival dapat menggalak lebih banyak kolaborasi industri antara Singapura dan Indonesia.
Digital disruption holds opportunities for Asian stories
Supporting the Creation of Compelling Stories
5. Asian content can also attribute its growing success to digital technology and rising internet connectivity, which have helped to bring Asian stories to a global audience. The internet has surpassed traditional distribution channels to become the dominant way which many consumers access media content, including a diverse range of local and foreign entertainment choices such as films, TV shows, podcasts, audiobooks and virtual reality. In such an environment, skilled storytelling will be even more critical to attract viewers. In addition, the growth of data analytics will result in new methods of producing and marketing content, including targeted marketing with personalised content and the use of programmatic platforms to update advertising campaigns in real-time.
6. These are global trends affecting every country and media company. We cannot change these driving forces, so the only practical response is to prepare ourselves for this new environment and seize the opportunities it holds. This has been our focus even before the formation of IMDA, where these areas come under the two statutory boards, IDA and MDA, and now with the merger and establishment of IMDA, we want to work even more closely with the industry to develop capabilities, leverage on technology and access new markets. We will accomplish these objectives by supporting the creation of compelling stories, and nurturing our media talent.
Leveraging technology to tell Singaporean stories
7. IMDA has been collaborating with several partners to develop quality content for a global audience.
8. The first is a partnership with Viddsee, a Singapore-based online video platform which makes use of data analytics to optimise viewership and content discovery. I visited them earlier this year and met the founders, Ho Jia Jian and Derek Tan, as well as their talented and passionate team of media professionals. IMDA will be partnering with Viddsee to produce original local content. Five new original series based on Viddsee’s most popular content categories, namely Short Film Anthology, Documentary, Romantic Drama, Thriller, and Family Drama, will be commissioned as part of this initiative. Viddsee will work with local filmmakers to produce these original series, and distribute and market them on Viddsee’s online platforms. The first series is targeted to go live in February 2018, so do look out for it.
9. The second is a partnership with Discovery Networks Asia Pacific, which started earlier this year. A series of virtual reality titles created by Singapore companies will be commissioned, and we are happy to announce the first two titles today. Viewers can enjoy these shows by putting on a pair of VR goggles, using a cardboard viewer, or moving their device around like a magic window to embark on different adventures, such as exploring abandoned buildings in modern cities in shows like Abandoned by Hiverlab and Burning Bush Films, or stepping into the shoes of mountaineers and miners in Dangerous Jobs by Sora Media and Viziofly. Globally, Discovery’s VR app has been downloaded over 4 million times and its line-up of more than 140 experiences has racked up over 141 million views, demonstrating its popularity with consumers. The made-in-Singapore VR titles will be the first VR films from Asia to premiere on Discovery’s VR app when they are released in the first half of next year. I am glad that through our partnership with Discovery and the innovative use of VR technology, Singapore media companies can showcase their content to a global audience, and allow viewers to enjoy learning about the world around us through new experiences.
Strengthening existing partnerships to take local content global
10. In addition to new partnerships with Viddsee and Discovery, IMDA will also be renewing and strengthening collaborations with our existing partners.
11. Last year, I announced the launch of WritersLab, a scriptwriting programme under IMDA’s Story Lab initiative that aims to push the boundaries of storytelling. The first run of the programme was done together with LASALLE College of the Arts, and eight participants were selected to develop their skills in the media trade. I am glad to know that this pilot has been very successful. Three of the eight scripts, two comedies and a drama, have been selected for production and will premiere on Toggle, MediaCorp’s online platform, from January 2018. Building on this success, IMDA is in discussions with LASALLE to run more editions of the programme, which could include a focus on scriptwriting for vernacular languages or immersive storytelling in future. By working with LASALLE and other partners, we aim to nurture more Singaporean storytellers, and create more Singapore stories that can appeal to local and global audiences.
12. WritersLab is an example of an excellent programme for crafting and fine-tuning great ideas. Another important step is the content creation and production process. Good stories need to be honed by skilful production and released through appropriate channels to reach the right audiences. I am glad that IMDA has strengthened its partnerships with two titans in the media industry. These partnerships will enable our content to reach new international markets.
13. The first partnership is with HBO Asia, one of the global leaders in quality dramas. IMDA’s partnership with HBO Asia will open more opportunities for Singaporean talent to take on key roles in HBO Asia’s upcoming pipeline of productions. It will also provide opportunities for local media professionals to develop their capabilities in areas such as directing, scriptwriting, showrunning and VR production, under the guidance of experts from HBO and their international partners. Those of us who have enjoyed watching local comedy show The Noose may recall Alaric Tay and his range of comic personas, from reporter Andre Chichak to Nicholas Le Fong, the cynical taxi driver who speaks English with a Hong Kong accent. As part of the partnership with IMDA, HBO Asia worked with Alaric and his company, Very Tay, on an original comedy series called Sent. This was directed and co-produced by Alaric himself. It tells the story of a mild-mannered office worker who accidentally sent hundreds of scathing emails to his family, friends and colleagues. The show was recently premiered across 22 territories in Asia in September. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Alaric and his team at Very Tay on this achievement!
14. Next, IMDA will be supporting the second edition of the Creator Collective, a branded content development training programme organised by Brand New Media. It comprises 10 half-day workshops where participants learn to deliver a professional content pitch, and subsequently execute their proposal under the guidance of industry experts. The Creator Collective will focus on upskilling digital media content creators on branded content creation, and also aims to encourage local brands to adopt such content in their marketing strategy. We expect this year’s programme to benefit more than 70 digital media professionals, and to feature speakers such as Nick Fawbert, the founder of Mutiny Consulting, and Dee Kosh, a popular Singaporean YouTuber.
15. By working with reputable partners such as HBO Asia, Brand New Media and Discovery, we can help our local film and TV content creators build deeper capabilities, develop new skills and establish stronger global and regional networks which are key enablers to grow our media industry and bring Singaporean content to global audiences.
Nurturing the Media Talent that will tell our Stories
The future of workforce management
16. To develop our media industry, we must first develop and look after our media talents, including freelancers in the industry.
17. Earlier this year, I announced the development of a Tripartite Standard on the Procurement of Services from Media Freelancers, which outlines four key areas on Written Contracts, Timely Payment, Dispute Resolution and Insurance. I am pleased to announce that the Tripartite Standard is now ready and IMDA will be launching it later today.
18. Starting from 1 April 2018, companies must adopt the Tripartite Standard in order to qualify for IMDA media grants and funding for Public Service Broadcast content. Mediacorp will also adopt the Standard and apply the same criteria in their commissioning process. Several companies, from regional broadcasters such as HBO Asia, the Association of Independent Producers (Singapore) or AIPRO and their members, and games company Witching Hour Studios, have pledged to support the Standard. I encourage media companies to come forward and adopt the Tripartite Standard.
19. In addition, MCI and IMDA are committed to adopting the Standard and putting in place the necessary processes. Vendors or contractors who are under MCI-led framework agreements, such as the Communications Campaigns Contract, Video Framework Agreement, and Translation Framework Agreement will also be advised to adhere to the Tripartite Standard.
20. This initiative will benefit our media freelancers. One such freelancer is Mr Joel Heng, who is a Director of Photography. Joel values the commitment from leading media companies to adopt the Tripartite Standard, and hopes that more companies will embrace these best practices over time.
21. Let me conclude by wishing all of you a fruitful and rewarding experience over the coming days as we celebrate the stories and talents in Asian media. I hope that you will benefit from the many opportunities and partnerships created here, and you will leave this event with many great stories and wonderful memories. Thank you.