Filmmaking Scene in Singapore

School of Media and Communications advisory board member Nicholas Chee held a community townhall in his office on 9 September 2019. Entitled “Is Our Content Production Industry Sustainable?”, the event was attended by members from the local film community. During this session, Nicholas Chee called for more dialogue and collaboration among independent filmmakers in Singapore. To him, the definition of “independence” refers to workers in the film industry who do not attach themselves to a company or production house.

An advocate of independent filmmaking and founder of resource portal, Nicholas Chee has been providing intellectual and practical support to budding filmmakers in the school who might not have the opportunity to join a film studio or production house.

Nicholas Chee’s efforts in collating data from public and private sources about the Singapore film industry is testament to his continuous support for locally-made films. Those who have some institutional memory of Singapore film establishments would remember a cosy community theatre up at Mount Sophia, where was located. It was Chee’s baby and contribution to independent filmmaking in Singapore and provided a space where local filmmakers could showcase their works-in-progress.

During the townhall, Nicholas Chee also shared with the attendees on various aspects of filmmaking.

Role of Producers

Producers are the glue that hold every production together. From handling budgetary matters to getting involved in the planning and directing of shots, the jobscope of producers are rarely set in stone, but they are often indispensable. Although the job of a producer may appear enticing – from attending glitzy events, film festivals and networking sessions, their job is really far from glamourous. Contrary to popular belief that film producers earn the most, producers are usually the last, and the least, to be paid in production projects.

Roles in a production

Logically a film cannot be made unless essential crew members are engaged. They include gaffers and grips. Aside from crew members, there are also many lesser known roles involved in a production process including video editors and audio engineers. Video editors exercise discretion on what to keep and discard in the editing process. Audio engineers are responsible for audio mixing, volume-levelling and the reproduction of voices, music and sound effects.

From a budgetary perspective, film producers know well that bulk of the production budget goes into remunerating them. These tight budgets do not allow production companies to hire more than budgeted, let alone to spend more on improving the aesthetics of the film.

Dialogues among filmmakers

Although budget constraints are systemic problems beyond filmmakers’ control, Chee also encourages filmmakers to come together as a community to consistently dialogue with each other to find good solutions and strategies to address the limited resources in the industry.

In addition, more needs to be done to improve industry practices, set professional standards, calibrate market rates for film workers and encourage collaboration with each other in honest and ethical partnerships.

Currently, community and capacity building might not rank high on a commercial film producer’s mind, but it is still important that every film producer do so to keep filmic art going in a fragile ecology. Community and capacity building can enrich society and deepen its cultural awareness.

This article is written by Nicholas Chee from the School of Media & Communications.


Founded in 1956, the Management Development Institute of Singapore (MDIS) is Singapore’s oldest not-for-profit professional institute for lifelong learning. MDIS has two main subsidiaries: Management Development Institute of Singapore Pte Ltd which oversees its Singapore academic operations, and MDIS International Pte Ltd which focuses on MDIS’ globalisation strategy. MDIS offers internationally-accredited courses in Business and Management, Engineering, Fashion, Health and Nursing, Information Technology, Languages and Education, Life Sciences, Media and Communications, Psychology, Tourism and Hospitality Management, and Safety and Environmental Management. These programmes are offered in collaboration with renowned universities in the United Kingdom.

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