Singapore Unveils Grant Scheme for Asian Film Coproduction

The Singapore government is to launch a new scheme to fund film co-production in Southeast Asia. It will offer grants worth S$250,000 or US$183,000 per film.

The initiative was announced Wednesday by Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran during the Singapore Hour at the Asia TV Forum. The ATF is part of the annual Singapore Media Festival (SMF). It will be administered by the Singapore Film Commission, part of the Info-Comm Media Development Authority.

The move follows several years in which the IMDA has focused on local film makers and talent, and a period in which Singapore films including “A Land Imagined,” “Pop Aye” and “Ilo Ilo” have won prizes at major international festivals. The co-production grant is said to represent a change of direction, towards a policy of greater Asian regional cooperation.

It will require the involvement of a producer from Singapore along with a director from another ASEAN country — Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. Ownership of the intellectual property is not a selection criteria.

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The grant is capped at 50% of production budget (excluding marketing costs). Significantly, it will not require more than 50% of the grant figure to be spent in Singapore.

The SFC will formally launch the initiative in the second quarter of 2019, with a call for proposals that runs until the third quarter. The list of successful projects will be announced in the final quarter of next year. Thereafter, the process will operate a once per year window.

The SFC says that there is no theoretical cap on the number of projects to be supported, though it has an undisclosed internal budget for the scheme – and instead will place an emphasis on Singapore creative producers and the quality of submitted projects.

The organization was at pains to explain that the new grant represents new money, and is not a replacement for the existing film support schemes within Singapore. It will also be open to working with the South East Asian Film Financing Forum (SAFF) project market.

In its initial iteration, grants will be available for feature narrative films, potentially including animation and documentaries, but excluding series.

The scheme is said to be modelled on the Aide aux Cinemas du Monde fund administered by France’s CNC, and the Hubert Bals Fund from The Netherlands. “We believe this fund is the first of its kind in Asia,” said a SFC spokesman on Wednesday. “In time we hope that other governments and private institutions will see the value of cooperation.”

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