Speech by Mr Chee Hong Tat, Minister of State for Communications & Information and Health, at the opening ceremony of Asia TV Forum & Market and ScreenSingapore

Last updated: 13 March 2023

Published on: 07 December 2016


07 Dec 16 - Speech by Mr Chee Hong Tat, Minister of State for Communications & Information and Health, at the opening ceremony of Asia TV Forum & Market and ScreenSingapore on 7 December 2016 at Marina Bay Sands Convention Centre

Good morning, everyone. I am delighted to join you at the opening of the Asia TV Forum & Market and ScreenSingapore today.

  1. Let me first congratulate all winners at the Asian Television Awards and the Singapore International Film Festival’s Silver Screen Awards. 19 works and performers from Singapore – for instance, The Mist, Anchorage Prohibited, George of the Jungle Series 2 and Leo the Wildlife Ranger – won top awards in these competitions. Our local broadcaster, Mediacorp, also won the Terrestrial Broadcaster of the Year for the 13th time, and for the fourth consecutive year. Well done and congratulations to all our winners!

  2. Importance of good storytelling

  3. We are gathered here at a time when disruption is sweeping across many sectors. Ms Debbie Evans spoke about this earlier in her speech. These sectors include the media industry. Media distribution channels have multiplied and diversified. Traditional TV and film business models have been challenged by new entrants. Digital technologies have lowered the barriers of entry and transformed the ways viewers consume content. The media industry has not stood still in the face of these developments.  It has adapted, it has innovated and it has grown.  These disruptions may be painful in the short term but in the longer term, they are beneficial for consumers and the industry. So we should embrace these changes and we should find ways to adapt and innovate.

  4. Despite these changes, one thing remains the same to succeed in the media industry – the need for good content.  Some people use the phrase “content is king” to describe this.  We know good content comes from skilled story-tellers, talented individuals who can come up with compelling storylines and develop interesting characters that can connect and resonate with the audience.

  5. This has been true not just in recent times but since time immemorial. Storytelling has always been an integral part of human civilisation. Our ancestors used cave drawings, hieroglyphs, and later, the oral and written word to transmit values, mark key historical events and to reflect the collective memories and experiences of different generations.  Even in our current high-tech world, storytelling remains an important part of our social and cultural interactions, and a key skill for developing interesting content for movies and TV shows. We are also seeing an interesting and increasing trend of storytellers drawing inspiration from mythologies, beliefs and old genres, and revitalising these in this new media landscape. From India's Baahubali to China’s The Empress of China, and closer to shore, the Philippines’ Riddles of My Homecoming, and from Singapore, The Songs We Sang; these shows have enthralled audiences, proving that the best stories have the ability to break down barriers and create connections between people from different parts of the world. 

  6. Opening opportunities and supporting growth in new areas 

  7. Skilled storytelling is not bound by the media platforms or technology.  Films have been based on Marvel comics and books like Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. Novels have been inspired by Warcraft games and Japanese anime. TV shows have emerged from games, and vice versa. These have created opportunities for new content to be developed and new technologies to converge, bringing greater enjoyment and value for consumers. These in turn will help grow the infocomm and media industry and create exciting new jobs and opportunities in all sub-sectors. 

  8. Take for instance the games industry, which is one of our fastest growing media sub-sectors. Companies such as Gentlebros and XII Braves have developed popular games like Slashy Hero and Valiant Force, which have been well-received by gamers in Singapore and overseas.  In a digital economy, our companies are able to reach consumers from around the world with just a click of a mouse. It is an area which fits well with the high-skill, high value-added, globally connected economy which Singapore wants to develop for the future.  To support our growth, IMDA will work with the Institutes of Higher Learning and industry players to build a sustainable talent pipeline of game writers and developers in Singapore.  This includes grooming local talent and being open to international talent to augment our workforce. In partnership with Workforce Singapore and the Screenwriters Association, IMDA will introduce a Professional Conversion Programme (PCP) next year under the Adapt and Grow initiative, which helps TV and film scriptwriters acquire the necessary knowledge and also to apply their skills for games. Participants will undergo training with industry practitioners such as Ian Gregory, co-founder of local games start-up Witching Hour Studios, and Alex Hilton, a game writer at Ubisoft Singapore. Who knows – one of these young talented game writers may just create the next Assassin’s Creed or Warcraft! We are confident that if we create the right conditions, nurture our talent and provide the environment for them to grow and innovate, they will create something of value that can benefit both consumers in Singapore and overseas.

  9. Nurturing new generations of storytellers

  10. Our accomplished storytellers have done us proud; works such as Pop Aye by Kirsten Tan and Spelling Armadillo by Oak 3 Films have shone on the international stage and flown our Singapore flag high. But there is more we can do together to support and nurture future generations of storytellers, so that they can stand on the shoulders of our veterans, and take Singapore’s media industry to an even higher level. 

  11. We must remain connected with the world and be open to collaboration with others.  Our companies have partnered international broadcasters to produce content for both local and global audiences. I am glad to note that a homegrown company, Xtreme Media, recently won the Australian Cinematographer’s Society Gold Award for its documentary Fusion Forager, which was produced under the FOX Formats Lab workshop as part of a partnership between IMDA and FOX Networks Group. By continuing to invest in talent development and providing opportunities for collaboration, I am confident we will have more success stories over the next few years.

  12. I am therefore delighted to announce that IMDA will launch a WritersLab programme in collaboration with LASALLE College of the Arts, where TV scriptwriters will come under the guidance of Shari Goodhartz, an Emmy Award-nominated writer who has written for the Star Trek TV series. The programme will also feature Academy Award-winning film producer, Lord David Puttnam, and script consultant Sophia Wellington, who has over twenty years of experience working with writers including Oscar-winning filmmakers.  By giving our people the opportunities to work with and learn from these international experts, it will accelerate our learning curve and allow our media industry to benefit from a larger pool of talented script-writers and story-tellers.

  13. IMDA is also devoting resources to cultivate storytelling skills and a passion for the craft among the public and students, because we believe that anyone, regardless of his or her background, can tell a good story, as long as they have a bold imagination and the drive to see their ideas come alive. Therefore, together with the National Library Board, a half-day introductory workshop will be conducted for non-professional writers to experience the process of story creation by developing their own characters and scenes.  I hope members of the public and our students will participate actively in this workshop. This is also aligned with the efforts to encourage lifelong learning under the SkillsFuture initiative. Through this workshop, we hope to see more budding storytellers step forward and share the joy of their stories with a wider audience in the future.

  14. Developing talents through exposure to different cultures and heritage

  15. Talent development goes beyond technical skills training. Good, captivating stories come from storytellers who write from their hearts, and who bring to the storyboard an eloquent understanding of cultural nuances and sensitivities, and meaningful life experiences. For example, local production studio WaWa Pictures embarked on a multi-cultural journey with its documentary series ‘Nanyang Chinese’ to tell the interesting stories of ethnic Chinese across parts of Southeast Asia, from how our forefathers travelled from China to Southeast Asia and how the different communities have evolved over time and how they sank roots in their new homelands and integrated their traditions with local customs.

  16. The Government and our media professionals, too, are partners in this journey. Our storytellers must remain open-minded and curious, be willing to seek out new life experiences and cultures, and constantly challenge their assumptions.  On the Government’s part, we are exploring ways to encourage and support these efforts. Singapore is well-positioned to be a vibrant, regional media hub in Southeast Asia.  We want Singapore to be a place where we can attract and develop talent from the region – both local talent and talent from the region, bringing talent together - where companies can come to get ideas, financing and access to technologies and markets.  This is what I believe will benefit the industry, will help grow the industry and create good jobs for our people.

  17. This is why IMDA will continue to support platforms like the Singapore Media Festival, for media professionals from different cultures and backgrounds to share their experience and expertise. In fact we have made encouraging progress in strengthening the Singapore Media Festival and its constituent events over the past three years. For instance, the Festival now includes new events like SMF Ignite which brings technology and media together in exciting ways. The Asia TV Forum & Market and ScreenSingapore have also evolved to feature new technology such as the Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality. There are many exciting opportunities where we can bring different sub-sectors – technology, media, games – together. Ultimately, it is about producing good content that can engage and resonate with our audiences, which we can then distribute across different platforms and travel to different markets.

  18. The SMF has also facilitated many international collaborations among the participants. One of which includes our home-grown production studio BananaMana Films. This is a studio whose founder Jason Chan had started out with only $1,000 to make his web-series, titled Perfect Girl. Armed with strong storytelling skills, Jason persevered and won five impressive international awards. At last year’s SMF, BananaMana Films linked up with several international partners with whom it is going to embark on a new project. They will be announcing the details later at the Singapore Pavilion. Well done Jason, I hope your story will inspire other young Singaporeans to pursue their passion and chase their rainbows, and grow a vibrant economy and media industry in Singapore. Another good example I would like to share with everyone is a film that was produced by Mr Derrick Lui called 1400, which has also won several international awards and wooed international recognition for its storytelling and filming. I was privileged to have been invited by Derrick and his team for the premiere screening earlier this year. I enjoyed the screening and so did many viewers. I also want to extend my congratulations to Derrick and his team and hope that they continue to produce good Singapore stories that will be engaging and interesting for both Singapore viewers and overseas viewers. Please keep up the good work, Derrick!

  19. Now let me conclude by wishing everyone a fruitful time as we celebrate the best stories and media talents in Asia over the next few days.  I hope you enjoy the festival and, for our overseas guests, please enjoy your stay in Singapore. May the events and interactions give you many wonderful stories to share with your friends and family. Thank you very much and I wish everyone a pleasant day ahead. Thank you.


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