Who is the Entertainment Industry’s “Secret Santa?”
Your best bet is to do your most of your production and/or post-production work in Singapore. According to the MDA’s Director of Broadcast, Animation, Film & Music, Mr. Yeo Chun Cheng, THE KEY is the amount of Singapore Spend. Mr. Yeo explained that “All sorts of projects are evaluated.” And he added “Co-production still is the vast majority of financing grants awarded, and while locals are encouraged to create their own original “IP” (Intellectual Property”) there’s still plenty of room for foreigners to team up with Singapore companies.” Once your Singapore co-producer submits the paperwork to the MDA, it takes only eight weeks, to receive their decision! (sweet)
Mr. Yeo spoke with me about animation producers (my particular interest), and apparently everything he shared about animation applies across the board for the other entertainment genre (which appear in Mr. Yeo’s long, yet clear professional title). While it does ebb and flow a bit, Mr. Yeo suspects there are at least 20 very good animation studios in Singapore, and maybe today as many as 40.
In particular, Mr. Yeo pointed out that KC Wong, Founder and CEO of Sparky Animation, has done both kinds of government-supported projects, with the example of “Dinosaur Train” from Jim Henson Studios a source of pride, even if not invented in Singapore, a world class production and major globally-known co-producer who brought in their own IP.
Another notable animation studio in Singapore is led by David Kwok, who explained that his company, Tiny Island, is currently producing their own IP, an original stereoscopic 3D series “Dream Defenders”. “We [Tiny Island] have a complete eco-system here. The MDA helps us (Singaporeans) with 70% funding of practical training, since one of the [MDA] fundamentals is for us to have a strong work force. With “Dream Defenders” we have a 360 strategy, a TV series, game, movie, various apps and even more than that ….. everything we’re doing is made in a future-proof way, for all markets and in all formats.“
Not for nothing, and with the highest of professional standards, the other “dream defenders” just might be an apt synonym for the MDA, who already have become a de facto “Santa” to many co-producers around the world. But in no way does Mr. Yeo consider MDA funds a gift. It takes a lot of preparation and hard work to qualify any project for MDA Grant Scheme submission. But in these economic times, it sure does appear to be a very attractive way to lower your production budget. And you can feel especially good if your animation project is funded by the MDA, knowing that kids all around the world will see your production, a world class “made in Singapore” cartoon, or game, movie, music or all of the above…….! Quite a big bag of entertaining gifts, from a tiny Asian island where a [wink, wink] very special, secret Santa is scheming away.
For more information, very clearly laid out (by a government agency, you ask if that’s possible?) - yes, I assure you! See for yourself how clear and concrete the MDA funding schemes are by going to www.mda.gov.sg
Catherine B. Morrissey is an AWN writer who has over 20 years of entertainment industry experience in distribution, production and coproduction.