S’pore firm aims to push the boundaries of Asian film-making

Leow Si Wan
Singapore Showbiz

Mike Wiluan in the Batam backlot. This structure can be 'dressed up' as a row of pubs or shops, depending on what the scene requires. (Yahoo! Photo)

To attract more international film-makers to Asia and to push the boundaries of Asian film-making.

This is what Mike Wiluan, chief executive of Singapore-based media company Infinite Studios, said he hopes to achieve with Infinite's two new facilities. The first will be set up in the upcoming Mediapolis in Singapore while the other is in Batam.

Wiluan told Yahoo! Singapore, "The facility in Mediapolis will be ready in September and it will focus on providing technical support, heavy visual effects and CGI such as green screen work. It is all about scale. But in the Batam facility, that is where we will concentrate on craft such as prosthetics and props."

With the two sites, Asia will hopefully become poised to become a hub for movie production, said Wiluan.

Yahoo! Singapore had the opportunity to tour the 10-hectare Batam premises which is still in the process of construction.

HBO Asia's first original production, Dead Mine, a horror-action movie, is also being shot in this facility, which boasts of backlots (area for outdoor shoots), four workshops -- wardrobe and prosthetics, the art department, make-up and stunts - as well as a 30,000 square feet state-of-the-art soundstage.

Click here to check out the slideshow of pictures taken on the set of Dead Mine

Wiluan said, "We are one of the first to push the idea of soundstages in Asia. With a soundstage, there are unlimited possibilities to the type of films we can produce."

He explained that film-making in Asia remains very "guerilla-minded" and is constrained by external conditions such as budget, location and weather.

In a soundstage however, all these externalities can be controlled, meaning that film-makers can be more adventurous in the choice of movies they want to make.

A sound stage is a soundproof structure used for the production of theatrical film-making and television production.

"Sci-fi, fantasy and other genres become more feasible," said Wiluan.

The Chinatown street set is yet another highlight on the Batam premises.

The Chinatown street backlot in Infinite Studios' Batam facility (Yahoo! Photo)

"With this set, we are able to shoot car chases and action sequences. We can dress the streets up with lamps, with fire hydrants, and the streets can look different," Wiluan said.

Why the choice of Batam to build Infinite's facility then?

"Cost. Also, if you talk about building a centre of excellence in craft work, Indonesia is where you can find the craftsmen. It is also in a strategic location very close to Singapore," he answered.

Yahoo! Singapore and other Asian media also got a sneak peek at the stunts workshop where a team of dedicated stuntsmen led by veteran Ken Clark -- who has performed stunts in movies such as Star Trek: Enterprise -- choreograph action scenes for Dead Mine.

Ken Clark leads his team in a stunts demonstration (Yahoo! Photo)

Clark also shared with the reporters, "This workshop will provide a safe environment for us to train Asian stuntsmen -- there are few of them in this part of the world. Currently. about 25 per cent of our 30 stuntsmen and women are Singaporeans and we hope to grow this number."

Do all these  mean more locally-produced films?

Wiluan said: "We definitely hope so. We hope to demonstrate our ability and push the limits of film-making in Asia."