With the convening of thousands of delegates and esteemed experts from around the world at the Asia TV Forum & Market (ATF) and ScreenSingapore 2017, all focus is on how the industry is going to navigate the increasing competitive omni-platform media environment, while leveraging new trends and emerging opportunities as the media industry undergoes a phase of innovation and reinvention.
At its opening, IMDA’s key announcements were very much welcomed to the many content creators and media practitioners in the region. In addition to the launch of the tripartite standard that promotes fair and progressive industry practices between the burgeoning freelancing community and media companies in Singapore, it also announced its intent to strengthen its partnerships with key media players so as to offer the best opportunities to Asian content creators to take their stories to a wider audience and out of the region. These partnerships involve international broadcasters and platforms, content marketers, and educational institutions.
According to Singapore’s Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information Chee Hong Tat in his opening address at ATF, these partnerships will open up more opportunities for local media talent to upskill and create content for local and international audiences, and tap on digital platforms for wider dissemination. With new technologies and greater connectivity to the rest of the world, skilled storytelling must be coupled with savvy content distribution to bring Asian stories to a global audience.
“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,” he said. “We want to work even more closely with the industry to develop capabilities, leverage on technology and access new markets.”
One such collaboration with HBO Asia will upskill local Singaporean talent in areas such as directing, scriptwriting, show-running and VR production through training programmes conducted by experts from HBO and their international partners. They will also have the opportunity to take on key production roles in HBO Asia’s upcoming pipeline of productions. When a similar partnership was inked between the two previously, Singapore-based Infinite Studios produced the acclaimed dark fantasy thriller television series Halfworlds 2. Directed by Singaporean PR Ekachai Uekrongtham, the show most recently won five awards at the Apollo Awards 2017 for Best Editing, Best Sound Design, Best Music Composition, Best Cinematography and Best Art Direction.
IMDA will also be partnering online video entertainment platform Viddsee to produce original public service content over a period of one year. This collaboration will involve local filmmakers in five new original series based on Viddsee’s popular content categories, namely Short Film Anthology, Documentary, Romantic Drama, Thriller, and Family Drama. Targeting Singaporeans aged between 18 and 34, the first series is expected to go live on Viddsee’s platforms in February 2018.
Besides pushing content out through online platforms, the incorporation of virtual reality (VR) in media content has been fast gaining clout in recent years. Its promise to introduce new and immersive experiences has stirred much anticipation among industry watchers in the region. In the immediate future, two Singapore VR films will premiere to a global audience in the first half of 2018. Commissioned by Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific (DNAP) and IMDA, they will take you on an exploration of forgotten worlds through forsaken buildings (Abandoned by Hiverlab and Burning Bush Films), as well as to walk in the shoes of people who make a living while putting their lives on the line (Dangerous Jobs by Sora Media and VizioFly).
Recognising the need to raise the next generation of media practitioners in Singapore, the Senior Minister of State Chee also unveiled two initiatives to nurture talents for the increasingly competitive media landscape across the world.
In the area of branded content creation, IMDA has partnered with Brand New Media to conduct Creator Collective – content marketing workshops that enable participants to work on actual commercial briefs by brands like Mead Johnson Nutrition and Singapore Tourism Board. Supported by Singapore Press Holdings and the Asia Content Marketing Association, participants will also be guided by established content creators in the region and experienced marketers from media agencies such as Wavemaker, Publicis Media and brand owners such as Marriott International.
Recognising how a compelling story starts with the crafting and fine-tuning of great ideas, IMDA is also looking to nurture a pool of scriptwriters. It is in discussion with LASALLE to run more editions of WritersLab, the successful scriptwriting programme under IMDA’s Story Lab initiative. In the first edition which just completed, participants were selected to participate in the intensive 10-week scriptwriting workshop, which was followed by a competitive pitch where three projects were selected for production and will premiere on Mediacorp’s Toggle from January 2018. The coming edition of WritersLab could include a focus on scriptwriting for vernacular languages or immersive storytelling.
Senior Minister of State Chee had emphasised the need to first develop and look after the media talents in order to develop the region’s media industry. Such collaboration is also a definitive step in nurturing the next generation of storytellers to foster an infocomm-media ecosystem where companies, startups and individuals are able to thrive in Singapore, and take their stories to a wider audience and out of the region.