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Jakarta Post

Singapore targets 'creative ecosystem'

  • Goh Chin Lian

    The Jakarta Post

Singapore   /   Fri, January 17, 2014   /  03:59 pm

Singapore aims to create an open, vibrant economy and promote a spirit of inquiry - vital ingredients for the success of its growing interactive and digital media industry, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Thursday.

By also staying abreast of global trends so that it remains relevant to the world, the resulting vibrant creative ecosystem will enable the country to attract a range of overseas talent and develop new sectors like digital animation.

This will, in turn, create exciting new opportunities for Singaporeans, Lee added, at the opening of Lucasfilm's regional headquarters in Buona Vista, the Sandcrawler.

Addressing an audience that included Star Wars creator George Lucas and Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, he said: "The magic lies not in the equipment or processes, but in the creative spark that resides in human minds... These can only light up in an environment which inspires people, promotes creativity and helps people to realise their dreams and to dream big.

"That is what we are trying to create here."

His speech, which kicked off with an emphatic "May the Force be with you", included several other Star Wars references.

The welcome party for Lee at the Sandcrawler - named after a moving fortress in the franchise - also comprised Darth Vader and several Stormtroopers. Lee later unveiled a statue of Yoda, the Jedi Master.

Lucasfilm, the world's largest entertainment firm, was wooed by the Economic Development Board to start an office here in 2005. Initially operating out of a small studio in Changi, Lucasfilm Singapore has grown into a visual effects and animation hub with a staff of more than 360, including 130 Singaporeans. They have produced special effects for blockbusters such as Iron Man, Transformers and The Avengers.

The industry is seen as one of the world's fastest-growing, and its value-add to the local economy has grown by over 1.5 times since 2008, to exceed S$2 billion (US$1.5 billion).

Singapore, Lee said, will strengthen its position by continuing to invest in infrastructure, such as clustering digital and media companies to promote exchanges. It will also develop and welcome talent. Local institutions offer specialised programmes and degrees that are growing in popularity.

"Our investment in our institutions and in our people reflects our commitment to help every Singaporean to achieve his potential in a wide range of fields," he said.

The digital media companies here also assemble a team of diverse overseas talents, who bring with them not only skills and creativity, but also a mix of cultures which breed new ideas.

Lee held up the local Lucasfilm office as an example - a "United Nations of talent" that has staff from almost 40 nationalities. He also cited Singaporeans like Winston Ng, 32, who rose from an intern to an associate production manager.

Another local, senior effects technical director Adam Lee, recalled progressing from creating simple effects like gunblasts for animated feature Rango, to more complex explosions of big buildings and simulating ocean foam, spray and mist in sci-fi movie Pacific Rim. The 32-year-old said: "If you can do good work, your reward is to get more work."