Attracting major film projects to S'pore

Attracting major film projects to S'pore
Zachary Quinto came to Singapore earlier this month to film a few scenes on its streets for the movie Agent 47.

It was an operation worthy of the undercover operative that gives the movie its name.

The crew for Agent 47, with its stars Zachary Quinto and Rupert Friend in tow, came into Singapore stealthily earlier this month to film a few scenes on its streets. Other filming took place in the new, massive sound stages run by Infinite Studios, off Portsdown Road.

But despite producer 20th Century Fox's attempts to keep things quiet, paparazzi buzzed the Robinson Road shooting site. All it took was a leak - perhaps from a reporter breaking a confidentiality agreement - and news of the photographic locations spread quickly.

Sources say the leak displeased the studio, which was trying to keep images related to the video game-inspired movie franchise a secret until the action movie's release next year.

As far as hiccups go, the leak was probably a minor one for a production with a budget in the tens of millions that will take several years from birth to release.

Mr Mike Wiluan, chief executive of Infinite Studios, says Agent 47 is only the start of what he hopes to be a string of major productions making the trip to Singapore.

This will be especially so after the film's views of Chinatown, Marina Bay and, yes, Robinson Road are seen by a worldwide audience. "This will turn heads. The benefit will be that it will have a lot more producers, more people in the business, interested in coming to shoot in Singapore."

Infinite Studios is a co-producer of the project. Fox did not come here purely for the sake of scenic locations, a skilled workforce, national infrastructure, the use of English and the new sound stages - reasons often given by those promoting the nation as a film location.

The island competes with other countries in the game of snagging studio work. It is understood that an undisclosed financial incentive was offered by the Government. Tax breaks and other perks are standard in the industry.

New Zealand, for example, offered more than$100 million in grants and other breaks to Warner Bros to keep the production of The Hobbit films in the country. The movies, as well as the earlier Lord Of The Rings trilogy (2001-2003), bring in a stream of tourists eager to visit the locations where filming took place.

Ms Angeline Poh, assistant chief executive (industry) of the Media Development Authority (MDA), says Fox's decision to come here "is the result of a long- term effort to build up relationships with international companies and win their confidence in Singapore's capabilities to take on large-scale productions".

"MDA has been actively promoting and marketing our media industry's capabilities internationally," she says.

The payoffs of having a major Hollywood feature film shot here - the first in decades - are many, says the MDA.

"These productions provide the opportunity for our home- grown media companies to collaborate with world-class international partners..." says Ms Poh.

"It also creates demand for Singapore talent, creating the opportunity for them to work on large-scale productions and learn from the world's best."

More than 70 Singapore crew members are involved in the production, working alongside media professionals from the United States and Europe. Ten of them worked on the film in two locations, first in Germany, then in Singapore, Ms Poh says.

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