Singapore’s MDA Launches $50M Film Fund with CJ Entertainment

Former CEO Christopher Chia: “Sharing the risk in moviemaking has become the preferred way”

The Media Development Authority of Singapore, a major hub of film and television funding, will partner with CJ Entertainment, Bang Singapore and Asia Media & Technology Capital on a new $50-million film fund, it announced at the American Film Market on Friday.

The partners plan to make a slate of films that will be produced out of Singapore over the next five years.

(Pictured: Dr Christopher Chia, Ashok Amritraj of Hyde Park Entertainment and Dr Tan Chin Nam.)

Just seven years old, MDA has supported over 200 trans-national film and television productions since its inception. Among its better known credits (at least on these shores) are the PBS children’s show “Dinosaur Train” and the 3D shark-attack film “Bait.”

CJE is just the latest in a long line of MDA partnerships. In its quest to bring in private sources of funding to match the public financing it provides, it has formed alliances such as its much-publicized pairing with Ashok Amritraj’s Hyde Park Entertainment Group and Imagenation Abu Dhabi.

That alliance has been tasked with funding three to four films a year, with an estimated production value of $75 million. Amritraj has already established a satellite office in Singapore and the partners plan to announce their first co-productions in the coming months.

“We are interested in job creation at MDA. As a tax payer sponsored program, we need to create jobs in everything from post-production to storyboarding,” Dr. Christopher Chia, a senior adviser to the organization and its outgoing head, told TheWrap.

Added Aubeck Kam, Chief Executive Officer of MDA: “We don’t see ourselves as film financiers, but more as facilitators. It’s important that we find private sources of funds, because by allowing the markets to lead, we create a better product.”

“We are small, but we want our product to be seen by 100 million people,” Kam told TheWrap. “We’re well suited to the global market, because in Singapore there is a confluence of cultures and trade. We are comfortable in both an Asian and western context.”

In particular, MDA is hoping to use its partnerships to turn Singapore into a hub of 3D production. To that end, MDA announced at this year’s AFM that it planned to back a new stereoscopic thriller “The Harvest” centering on a group of backpackers.

Since entering into the 3D market in 2008, MDA has ramped up its schedule of television and film productions that rely on the technology. This year it will be involved in financing four films in 3D with many of the production and post-production elements produced in Singapore.

“It’s a niche that we've tried to establish. We think it’s here to stay and as the technology grows, Singapore will be well positioned to compete,” Chia said.