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Singapore filmmakers turn script to screens in Singapore and beyond

Singapore filmmakers turn script to screens in Singapore and beyond

In the foreground, a videographer is checking the video camera on the set of Wonderland, a Made with SG film. Production crew and equipment are in the background, including a camera monitor, and a producer wearing a headset walking past.

With a deep-rooted love for storytelling, filmmaker Chai Yee Wei and industry veteran
Michelle Chang founded their end-to-end boutique studio Mocha Chai Laboratories in 2012. What started out as an outfit focusing on high end post-production deliveries for the cinema evolved to become a development house that also creates and produces original films. Mocha Chai Laboratories is behind Wonderland, a Made with SG drama starring Singaporean actors Mark Lee, Peter Yu, Xenia Tan, Janice Seah, and Rajeswary Nadarajan. The heart-warming film, which is expected to hit the big screen by early 2024, is set to captivate audiences with its emotional storyline and talented cast and crew.

The journey of Wonderland, from conception to the big screen, was made possible with the support of IMDA’s Talent Progression Programme (TPP). Now updated as the Media Talent Progression
Programme (MTPP)
, the MTPP provides grants to help Singapore media companies develop and produce high-quality media projects. These grants also support the development of local talent, strengthen the competitiveness of Singapore media companies, which in turn contributes to a vibrant media industry.

A shot from the camera monitor on the set of Wonderland, a Made with SG film, showing actors and producers preparing for a scene.
IMDA's Talent Progression Programme (TPP) has fuelled Wonderland's journey to the big screen.

A beautiful story on loss and friendship set in Singapore in the 1980s

Wonderland tells the story of a white lie that spirals into full-blown deception, bringing two men together in an unlikely friendship. With an all-Singaporean cast, the Mandarin and Hokkien language film takes place in Singapore in the 1980s, during a time when venturing abroad for opportunities was a luxury that not many could afford. The inspiration for the story came from the director's first-hand perspective on the tragedy of losing a child. While he was studying in the United States, a fellow Singaporean student passed away unexpectedly, leaving him to ponder on the devastating loss from his perspective as a new parent.

I’ve always wanted to explore a story about the relationship between a father and daughter, and this film very much does so. I’ve been wanting to tell this story for over 20 years, but I’ve had difficulties telling it because it is a heavy topic.

Chai Yee Wei

Founder and Film Director at Mocha Chai Laboratories

“The father-daughter relationship of the story is a beautiful aspect that we’ve been able to capture, but there’s also the other aspect of it, which is the story of two men in their silver years forming a beautiful friendship. It was important for us to tell this story in an Asian context,” said Michelle, Co-Founder of Mocha Chai Laboratories. “When Yee Wei told me the story, I immediately fell in love with it and began securing funding for production.”

Actors Johnny Ng and Zhang Wei, and Director Chia Yee Wei on the set of Wonderland, a Made with SG film. They are seated in an outdoor setting, with the rest of the actors and crew in the background getting ready or waiting to shoot a scene.
An all-Singaporean cast tells a poignant story of friendship and loss in Wonderland. Pictured left to right are actors Johnny Ng and Zhang Wei, and Director Chai Yee Wei.

IMDA initiatives helped bring Wonderland to life

Turning Yee Wei’s story from script to screen required substantial funding and support, which was well covered by the IMDA TPP Content Development Grant. In addition, IMDA helped introduce Mocha Chai Laboratories to Emissary Pictures, a media production company with offices in Australia, Europe, Indonesia, New Zealand, and South America, as well as Korean film production company, CJ Entertainment, to co-develop and produce premium content across genres and formats. These partnerships enabled the team to work with a diverse group of partners, sharpened their skills and expertise, and expanded their reach to international audiences.

Working with IMDA and being part of their initiatives do not just benefit the director or the writer. These initiatives have a ripple effect that benefits the entire ecosystem, which is filled with hungry, young, fresh-out-of-school future film producers or editors. School can only give you a limited amount of experience, but the ability to collaborate with international media companies provides you with real-life learning. The learning opportunities we get from our overseas partnerships are tremendous for a young content creator.

Chai Yee Wei

Founder and Film Director at Mocha Chai Laboratories

A videographer and a producer are looking at the scene setup of Wonderland, a Made with SG film. The videographer is seated with a video camera, while the producer wearing a headset.
Local media talent and companies are equipped with the capabilities to flourish in the global media industry.

Empowering Singapore’s media industry to bring more Made with SG content to the global stage

The IMDA initiatives that supported the success of Mocha Chai Laboratories and Wonderland are just some of IMDA’s continued efforts to bolster Singapore’s media ecosystem and equip local talent and companies with the capabilities to compete in the global media industry. From providing funding for premium content development, to nurturing local media talent and creating opportunities to collaborate with, and learn from, international names, IMDA is focused on helping local media creators expand their reach and take their content to the global stage.

For filmmakers working on projects that provide quality roles for Singapore media professionals to build up their portfolio and experience, more information about available grants can be found here.

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