New Chinese scriptwriting course launched in Singapore



With Singaporeans displaying a growing appetite to make their mark in the booming Chinese movie market, a local polytechnic is offering its first-ever Chinese scriptwriting course to elevate Singapore's filmmaking industry.

Ngee Ann Polytechnic has partnered with Singapore-based media firm G.H.Y Culture & Media to create a first-of-its-kind Chinese Scriptwriting course for OTT movies (over-the-top services refers to the delivery of film and TV content via the internet) for adult learners under its Continued Education and Training (CET) program.

Starting from Sept. 7, the course is conducted by industry experts and award-winning scriptwriters from both China and Singapore, such as Xiao Ji Xiang Tian (best known for creating, supervising and writing supernatural suspense drama "The Ferry Man") and prominent Singaporean writer-director Boris Boo.

Adult learners who undergo the three month course will be given an overview of the recent trends in China on OTT services, such as regulatory and copyright issues.

They will also learn about the principles of scriptwriting and storytelling, ideation and story development, treatment development and writing, characterization, and scene writing, for instance.

At the end of the course, participants will develop a full-length script which could stand the chance to be produced as a screenplay for the China movie market.

The full course fee of 1,800 Singapore dollars (about 1,306 U.S. dollars) is supported by a subsidy of up to 90 percent under the Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) Talent-Assistance (T-Assist), an initiative under Singapore's IMDA's Media Manpower Plan that aims to strengthen the media capabilities of the local workforce.

Teo Eng Tiong, a senior lecturer for the Chinese Media & Communication course at Ngee Ann Polytechnic, said the team consulted the industry about the course a year ago before they started working on the course structure and content.

While Chinese scriptwriting is covered in its Chinese Media & Communication course for polytechnic students, it is just "a small fraction" of the entire scriptwriting process, he said. "When we talked with the industry players, we understand that Chinese scriptwriting is something we need to improve on. There is also a lack of good scriptwriters in Singapore," said Teo.

So far, Teo is heartened by the strong interest in the course.

It currently has 20 students who range from current polytechnic students, seasoned scriptwriters and even those outside of the film industry, with the youngest being 17 years old and the oldest in their late 50s.

The school is already considering rolling out its second run of the course at the beginning of next year or possibly expanding into a series of seminars and masterclasses in voice acting, podcast production and scriptwriting for web series.

Boris Boo pointed out that while award-winning Singaporean directors like Boo Junfeng have put Singapore on the world map, there needs to be a bigger base of Singaporeans who regularly consume local films.

This will drive more profitable box office sales to fund more films, instead of constantly relying on government funding. Over time, Boris Boo hopes the love for local films will be "reignited" and a new generation of young filmmakers can propel Singapore's film industry forward.

"As long as there is a strong grasp of the subject matter, getting a slice of competitive Chinese market is not impossible. Singapore cinema can make a bigger mark in Asia," he said.

By "creating a network of scriptwriters in Singapore and China" through such programs, there may be more possibilities of Singapore seeing its local productions being remade in China, added Teo, who cited how local hit show The Little Nyonya is being remade for the Chinese market.

"We always think that Singapore movies cannot travel because it's too localized. But as long as we have a good story, it can travel. At the end of the day, it's a scriptwriter's dream to get his stories seen worldwide," he said.



Editor: Lan Suying