Malaysia: very Kre8tif

Another Asian-based event steps up to strut its stuff and stake its claim for wide-ranging regional significance. This time its the Kuala Lumpur-based Kre8tif! or, to give its full name, the Kre8tif!
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Another Asian-based event steps up to strut its stuff and stake its claim for wide-ranging regional significance. This time its the Kuala Lumpur-based Kre8tif! or, to give its full name, the Kre8tif! 2010 Digital Content Conference.

Running until Friday (17 December), the 3-day conference is offered in conjunction with X | Media | Lab, which then runs a weekend lab.

One of the many things that is interesting about it, apart from the impressive speaker line-up and so on, is that it mirrors a growing trend in the region – from which NZ seems almost the only absentee amongst first-world economies – for spending large amounts of government cash on high-profile events designed to assist the growth of the local industries.

We see small examples of it here, with government money supporting AnimfxNZ, but few other examples of major industry events aimed at industry development.

Casting around the Asia-Pacific region, Singapore is probably the biggest spender on a per capita basis, with its Media Development Authority making regular announcements at international market events of new funds for content creation and IP development, not to mention an ongoing programme of events in Singapore featuring international input. Next year, it opens ScreenSingapore, a new festival/market on the calendar.

China is also not backward in coming forward with the cheque book and is developing an entire animation industry on the back of government money, as well as providing support for some established market events such as the Shanghai International Film Festival and the newly-announced Beijing International Film Season, whose market is specifically targeted at achieving co-productions.

Hong Kong has the well-established Filmart and HAF, part of a month of events including the HK International Film Festival and a couple of smaller content fairs, all underwritten by the territory’s Trade Development organisation.

Korea doesn’t spend quite so much, but various government departments support events such as the BIFCOM market accompanying the Pusan Festival, not to mention a couple of Asian-focused content fairs.

Australia has been pouring money in to attracting work for its industries over the last year, although that is as much a response to its exchange rate problems as a coherent industry development policy.

Malaysia has had a lower profile internationally, which is one of the reasons its government organisation has teamed with XML at Kre8tif! Just as Hong Kong has long traded on its reputation as an easy place to do business between Western and Chinese cultures, Malaysia serves a similar – if less appreciated – role among the broader Asian diaspora.

There is good understanding of, and long-developed business links with, China; There are also strong links into the Muslim cultures of SE Asia and beyond; the country is a part of the Commonwealth, with a consequent familiarity with the English language and business cultures, and – specifically in the content creation arena – has a history of service work for US and European companies.

The government agency responsible for growing the content industries in Malaysia is the Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC). In 1996 (yes, 14 years ago) it caught the broadband bus, creating a national initiative called the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) expressly for the purpose of growing the country’s Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industries, by a combination of infrastructure investment and strategic support for identified companies.

These days, that initiative has expanded to support a much broader range of businesses than originally envisaged, to include a lot of companies in the content creation as well as the IP development fields. They all use the sought-after MSC logos on their business cards, the government stamp of approval which inspires confidence and promises quality assurance – especially useful for foreigners when making initial contacts.

Five of those MSC companies in the content-creation field have recently entered into international co-production deals, attracting $26 million of new investment.

As for the MDeC-supported Kre8tif!, the event is focused more on animation and games than, say, film or TV content, and attracts a goodly number (50+) speakers over its three days, from Asia and further afield.

This weekend’s Lab will see a dozen Malaysian projects work with mentors on developing their ideas. It’s a testament to the quality and profile of the mentors on offer that some of the Malaysian speakers at Kre8tif!, all at the top of the industry there and some of them involved in the co-production deals noted earlier, have submitted their own projects for the Lab to get some structured input from their overseas peers.

ScreenHub has been lucky enough to secure interviews with some of these speakers and XML Lab mentors, including Animal Logic’s Zareh Nalbandian (Australia), Terato’s Reza Razali (Malaysia), Levity Group’s Leah Hoyer (USA) and others. Over the last few bulletins of the year, we’ll publish as many of those as we’re able to.

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