SINGAPORE: Singapore production companies say they see a growing trend of collaborations with international companies.
The Media Development Authority (MDA) says there are currently 60 production companies that are actively producing broadcast content both locally and abroad.
Channel NewsAsia spoke to two local production houses to find out what makes Singapore attractive as a co—production hub.
The Moving Visuals Company came onto the scene in 1998, during a period when Singapore was trying to promote independent production.
At the same time, many cable television channels were moving their headquarters to the region.
Moving Visuals wasted no time trying to gain a foot in the door by marketing its documentaries overseas.
Its strategy was to focus on factual programming as opposed to drama and sitcoms, which tended to be more localised.
Galen Yeo, CEO of The Moving Visuals Company, said: "When we started, we wanted to focus on factual programming or documentaries as well as kids’ programming, primarily because we felt that these genres would travel better. Whereas if you look at certain genres like drama and sitcoms, they tend to be more localised."
It was one of the first production houses to co—produce a programme on the Hungry Ghost Festival with international channel National Geographic and local broadcaster MediaCorp’s TV12.
Since then, it has distributed its productions throughout Asia, the United States, Europe and Latin America.
But the company feels more can be done in terms of making headways for more co—productions between local and international broadcasters.
Galen Yeo added: "If I could suggest something for the industry, it would be to be bolder, take more risk, experiment a bit. I think in Asia we sometimes shy away from difficult subjects, or subjects we perceive as being difficult. I think people are more exposed now. And I think we are sort of second guessing and holding ourselves back a little bit sometimes."
Other production houses in Singapore say what attracts overseas players is an Asian story that’s packaged for an international audience.
Jocelyn Little, Managing Director of Beach House Pictures, said: "The trend that we are finding is that originally it was more traditional documentaries, with a host or hostess, sort of lifestyle shows. Now it’s different. Now everything is more about the character—driven type shows. People want to see real lives, and big characters — which is a trend in the US and Europe, but not so much in Asia yet, but I think it’s coming."
Beach House Pictures has produced about 30 overseas projects.
Its latest co—production project is with ABC TV and Northern Pictures to explore the wilderness of Kakadu National Park. And it says the best advice it can give to indie companies starting up is to find strong stories.
Currently, Singapore has five official co—production treaties with Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Korea and China, which facilitated about 20 projects across TV, film and animation. But MDA says there is still untapped potential, which can be harvested from countries like Indonesia and Malaysia.
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