Ladies and gentlemen
A very good morning to all of you. I am delighted to join you at this year’s Asia TV Forum and Market, Screen Singapore, and the Singapore Media Festival (SMF). It’s been a while, and as the saying goes, “Absence makes the heart fonder”, so I am very happy to see the crowd and buzz all coming back to the Singapore Media Festival.
While it has been a difficult three years with the challenges brought on by COVID-19, we are seeing a steady revival of the media industry. This is evident from the responses we have seen for this year’s ATF|SS, which will showcase over 60 Singapore media companies, presenting over 1,170 hours of compelling stories from Singapore and Asia, across more than 190 titles.
Indeed, with the lifting of the COVID-19 Safe Management Measures, in Singapore and around the world, theatres and cinemas are beginning to be filled up again. People are returning to watch their favourite movies, plays, and enjoying the arts. As the media sector continues its recovery from the pandemic, there will be an increasing desire for content.
We would therefore like to focus on bringing “Made with SG” content to the world. In addition, COVID-19 has catalysed new innovations in media, and we would need to enhance our capability to take advantage of these new technologies.
This year’s theme for the Festival - “Celebrating Asia’s stories with the world”, recognises that the region has a wealth of interesting stories, drawn from our rich tapestry of cultures.
We want to ensure that our local media companies can share these stories with the rest of the world. These stories serve as a gateway for our audiences to experience the richness of our Asian heritage, and our way of life. For these stories to travel, our media companies need access to creative networks of people across the region to facilitate the exchange of ideas and content, and to reach audiences all across the globe. It is therefore important that the Government supports these measures.
One such effort is the Capability Partnership Programme, or CPP. Launched in 2018, the CPP enables our local SMEs to collaborate with reputable and global media companies. Since its inception, CPP has benefited about 120 local media companies and over 830 media professionals through job creation and opportunities for upskilling. This has led to many successful partnerships with global media companies to bring “Made with SG” content to the world.
For example, Infocus Asia or IFA, a Singapore company that produces drama and documentaries, has been strengthening their co-productions with established Taiwanese companies through the CPP, the latest of which is Studio 76. The two studios worked on “Love Punch” – a digital movie about the reunion between a former boxing champion and her troubled coach.
For this co-production, IFA producers travelled to Taiwan with their understudies, who were afforded the opportunities to work alongside a group of highly experienced crew and cast. IFA also brought Singaporean SMEs such as Nine V Post, and White Noise Music on board these projects. We are heartened that through CPP funding, IFA helped to elevate Singaporean co-production capabilities across the region.
Infocus Asia is one example of how the CPP has helped local media companies collaborate with established players in the industry. We look forward to seeing more of such co-productions, which would no doubt allow our local media companies to create content for a wider audience.
We also remain committed to supporting the talents that tell the stories. The Media Talent Progression Programme, or “MTPP”, supports the production of content that provides quality roles for local media professionals, in order to build up their portfolio and experience. MTPP has supported more than 300 media professionals and their projects.
One of the notable projects include He Shuming’s “Ajoomma”, Singapore’s first co-production with Korea, which was funded under the New Director Grant. The film premiered at the Busan International Film Festival and received nominations at the Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival. It is also Singapore’s selected entry to the Oscars for 2023.
Another example is Alvin Lee’s “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes”. Funded under the Short Film Grant, this title also showcased in Busan and recently won an award at China’s Golden Rooster Awards. It was also named “Best Singapore Short Film” at the recently concluded Singapore International Film Festival.
In the almost three years of living with COVID-19, the media industry has adapted and developed new innovations. One such innovation is the use of virtual productions.
Virtual productions combine physical and virtual filmmaking techniques to create cutting edge media. Teams use real-time 3D engines to create photorealistic sets, displaying them on LED walls behind physical sets. With this, visual effects are no longer applied only in post-production, but are iterated throughout the pre-production timeframe.
This allows filmmakers to create visual effects in real-time without costly real-scene production and physical limitations. The possibilities are only limited by the imagination of our filmmakers. Notably, movies like “Dune”, “The Batman”, and “Black Adam” have utilised virtual productions technology during their filming process.
It is my pleasure to announce that IMDA will be launching a S$5-million-dollar Virtual Production Innovation Fund to support local media industry in developing capabilities to harness virtual production technology.
Specifically, IMDA will be issuing a call for proposal to co-fund short form content, such as music videos, short films, and brand commercials, produced using virtual production. IMDA will co-fund up to 50% of the project’s cost for selected proposals. Companies can submit their proposed content concept to IMDA from now until 15 February 2023.
The S$5-million-dollar fund will also provide support to train local expertise in these areas. IMDA has partnered the National Film and Television School in the UK to tailor its “Certificate in Virtual Production” course for Singapore’s media lecturers, trainers, and industry professionals.
15 media lecturers, trainers and industry professionals will participate in this pilot from December 2022 to April 2023. This will help to build a core of professionals in the virtual production ecosystem, who will in turn develop a pipeline of local talent in virtual production.
Apart from this, IMDA will also support a series of industry-led masterclasses and workshops by international virtual production experts to provide training to enhance the expertise in this area.
Let me conclude. The initiatives I have shared capitalise on Singapore’s globally connected media ecosystem to tell Asia’s stories to the world. I welcome partners all around the world to collaborate with us and leverage Singapore’s connectivity to not just Asia, but to the rest of the world as well.
I wish everyone a fruitful time at ATF and the Festival. Thank you.
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