Nurturing Asian storytellers for the global stage

Nurturing Asian storytellers for the global stage

In the face of the evolving media landscape, new partnerships with industry players will support homegrown talent and help local content go global.

Celebrities at the Asia Television Forum
Senior Minister of State Chee Hong Tat (fifth from left) with several Mediacorp celebrities at the Asia Television Forum.

By Janice Lin


Is it safe to assume that everyone — well, almost everyone — has heard of Descendants of the Sun?

The 2016 Korean drama, which was translated into 32 different languages, was a shining example of Asian content that did well beyond the continent.

Mr Chee Hong Tat
Minister of State for Communications and Information, Mr Chee Hong Tat, at the opening ceremony of the Asia TV Forum.
Over the years, Asian television and cinema has widened its reach beyond the region, and its success can be attributed to digital technology and growing internet connectivity globally, which has helped bring its stories to a larger audience.

But increasing connectivity has also changed the behaviour and expectations of consumers, many of whom now want instant access to content anytime, anywhere. In the Asia-Pacific alone, digital video viewership is expected to reach 1.1 billion by the end of the year, and account for over half of the worldwide total, according to market researcher eMarketer. The internet has become the dominant way in which consumers access content, with video streaming and on-demand viewing making the traditional, fixed schedules of linear programming almost obsolete.

Media consumers now have a gamut of entertainment choices that they can access on demand, ranging from TV shows, films, podcasts and even virtual reality movies. In the face of this shifting landscape, skilled storytelling will be critical in capturing audiences, said Mr Chee Hong Tat, Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information, who spoke at the opening ceremony of the Asia TV Forum & Market (ATF) and ScreenSingapore, held at the Marina Bay Sands Convention Centre.

“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,” Mr Chee added.

Singapore Media Festival
The Asia Televison Forum and ScreenSingapore were held on 28 November to 1 December 2017 as part of the annual Singapore Media Festival.

The ATF and ScreenSingapore was held on 28 November to 1 December as part of the annual Singapore Media Festival, whose focus this year is on celebrating the best of Asian storytelling. It was attended by more than 5,400 industry professionals, with over 750 regional and international content sellers showcasing their programmes and films.

Supporting local talent

For Singapore-made content to go global, the Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) has strengthened and forged partnerships with key players in the industry. These collaborations aim to nurture media talent, support the creation of compelling stories, and open up opportunities for local content to reach wider audiences.

This includes major international broadcasters like HBO Asia, with which IMDA has renewed its partnership for another two-and-a-half years. This new collaboration will open more opportunities for local talents to take on key production roles in the network’s upcoming pipeline of productions. It will also open avenues for local media professionals to develop skills in areas such as directing, scriptwriting, showrunning and video production, through training programmes conducted by experts from HBO and its international partners.

IMDA is also renewing its support for video content marketing firm Brand New Media’s (BNM) training programme, Creator Collective, which is aimed at fostering a new generation of commercial online content creators in Singapore. For the second edition of Creator Collective, BNM will conduct 10 workshops, where participants will learn to deliver a content pitch and execute their proposal under the guidance of industry experts.

“Good stories need to be honed by skilful production and released through appropriate channels to reach the right audiences. I am glad that IMDA has strengthened its partnerships with two titans in the media industry. These partnerships will enable our content to reach new international markets,” said Mr Chee.

Finally, to nurture local scriptwriters, IMDA is in talks with LASALLE College of the Arts to run more editions of the successful WritersLab programme, with a possible focus on scriptwriting for vernacular languages or immersive storytelling. The first run of the programme, held from January to March 2017, saw eight participants take part in an intensive 10-week scriptwriting workshop. Three projects were finally selected for production and will premiere on Mediacorp’s online platform Toggle in January 2018.

Taking content to the global audience 

Highlights from Asia TV forum
Some highlights of the Asia TV Forum. (Photos: Singapore Media Festival Facebook, IMDA Facebook) 

To take greater advantage of technology and appeal to the increasing number of viewers who prefer to consume media digitally, IMDA has teamed up with Singapore-based online video platform Viddsee, which uses data analytics to optimise viewership and content discovery, with the aim of making public service broadcast content more accessible to a wider audience.

With this new partnership, Viddsee will work with local filmmakers to produce five original series, which will then be marketed and distributed on its online platform.

In addition, IMDA will continue its one-year partnership with Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific, under which a series of virtual reality (VR) titles created by local companies will be commissioned. These titles will be the first VR films from Asia to premiere to an international audience through Discovery’s VR mobile application, which has drawn over four million downloads and more than 141 million views globally.

“By working with reputable partners such as HBO Asia, Brand New Media and Discovery, we can help our local film and TV content creators build deeper capabilities, develop new skills and establish stronger global and regional networks, which are key enablers to grow our media industry and bring Singaporean content to global audiences,” said Mr Chee. 



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