By Juan Foo
Amidst the uncertain business climate caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, premium screen content production outfit Beach House Pictures has recently opened its post-production facility, Space Lion Studios, in Singapore.
Space Lion is reputed to be South-east Asia’s first Near-Field Dolby Atmos Studio and Dolby Vision Studio with full Dolby certifications. This is another production house integrating its business along the creative aggregation workflow – developed to pitch, to shoot, and now to post.
With its strong track record of content production in Asia, Beach House is prolific in producing a wide variety of factual programmes including works in China, Japan and other countries in the region. The company has successfully delivered programmes to leading streamers such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Tencent and Blibli. A natural progression is to expand into post-production to accommodate the production of larger and more extensive content.
A pop-in visit to the facility revealed an area reminiscent of the aesthetic television commercial houses of the past era (inclusive of a bar counter), combined with the functional multiple suites of a serial post-production cutting, grading and sound design house.
As the name implies, the facility aims high, to push the Lion City’s (aka Singapore) post-work into the stratosphere.
“We wanted a name associated with Singapore, where the roots of our business are, and one with futuristic connotations.
“Our business is also global, so we wanted something that addresses the future, while growing both the business and talent in Asia,” says Paul Stevens, General Manager of Space Lion Studios.
Beach House Pictures making Singapore its headquarters did not come as a surprise, since its staff have been based in Singapore since 2005, the year the company was set up by its two founding partners — Donovan Chan and Jocelyn Little.
The production house has grown from producing terrestrial TV work to an international production business with a team of more than 100 professionals.
Consistent quality work for over a decade has enabled the company to produce varied notable programmes such as ‘China From Above’ on Tencent, ‘Evolve’ on Curiosity Stream and most recently, ‘The Raincoat Killer’, now trending as top four in South Korea and top 10 in the region on Netflix.
Close to 17 years in operation now, the company has produced 500 hours of content equating to more than 1,000 TV episodes and counts broadcasters/streamers such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Discovery, National Geographic, Curiosity Stream, Tencent and Bilibili in their rolodex.
Industry veterans may recall The Beach House Workshops from 2016 to 2018, when Beach House and its partners conducted a series of practical down-to-earth workshops and panel discussions solely for new professionals and fresh graduates who were trying to get a headstart in the screen industry.
Their talent development plans for the industry drew the attention of Singapore’s Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), which is committed to encourage both ‘Made with Singapore’ and made-by-Singaporean screen products.
In the ensuing years, under the IMDA’s enhanced Capability Partnership Programme, Beach House created many local talent-enhancing opportunities to upskill and co-produce premium scripted and documentary titles. It accumulated 30 international TV programmes, and created over 1,100 freelance and contract jobs for the local media industry.
“We’re incredibly proud of our track record with IMDA to produce acclaimed premium content,” said founding partner Little in commenting on the programme.
She added: “Our needs for talent make Singapore the perfect place for us to expand our headquarters to attract the best creative people and business partners.”
Anchoring this support from the Singapore government was Minister for Communications and Information, Josephine Teo, the Guest-of-Honour at the Grand opening of Space Lion Studios.
Minister Teo toured the new premises and had a first-hand look at the facilities after officiating the opening ceremony on 25 February 2022. She noted, “Globally, the demand for content has exploded. In terms of the compounded rate of growth, it is about 16%. And in dollar terms, that’s more than US$400 billion from 2021 to 2025.
“Close to half of that is going to be in the Asia-Pacific market.”
Emphasising Singapore’s ideal position in the media ecosystem, she added, “We have a conducive business environment, particularly in terms of the legal and intellectual property frameworks.
“There is a confluence of cultures and traditions of the many different societies, as well as us (Singapore) being a connector of the media ecosystems of different countries, and these make for a very good foundation.”
Nurturing talent is an emphasis that produces credible results. Two of the company’s lead edit teams won Best Editing awards at the Asian Academy Creative Awards for the last two years running — Mohammad Razin for ‘Wild City: River World’, produced by Beach House and Mediacorp; and Dipin Verma and Carolyn Aquino Egueras, for ‘Ed Stafford: First Man Out Season 2’, produced by Beach House, Blibli and Discovery Channel.
Beach House, as part of its expansion plan, bought into Japanese production company Vesuvius Pictures. Co-founder Chan, in sharing the company’s North Asia strategy, said, “After spending 15 years building our business in China, we found a kinship in Hyoe Yamamoto and Deborah Barillas of Vesuvius Pictures in their vision for their business — and we shared the same goals to build something in Japan.”
Venturing beyond their comfort zone of factual programme production, Beach House recently bought into Momo Film Co., a narrative company that is the brainchild of award-winning filmmakers Tan Si En and Kris Ong. This move will mutually strengthen each company’s position to maneuver and manage between screen genres of factual and fiction projects while maintaining a well-grounded production facility in Asia.
Indeed, the emphasis on multi-cultural talent steering premium Asian productions is poised to take centerstage at Beach House … and with Space Lion taking off.
Question: In the race to capture eyeballs in Asia, streamers like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Tencent and Blibli are commissioning more and more indigenous film productions. Where and how are Asian studios going to recruit and train local talent?
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