Aurora to bring Hollywood to Southeast Asia

Sept 2016 – Forbes.

A $30 million global media investment fund recently launched out of Singapore is bringing Hollywood to Southeast Asia. Aurora Media Holdings, the first of its kind in the region, is changing the game and shaking up how content creators bypass traditional modes of commissioning and licensing by enabling private equity access to finance their productions.

Co-founders Justin Deimen, Terence Kong and Jeremy Sim started a newly formed arm of the company, Aurora Media Capital, to provide financing solutions to content producers through equity involvement, bridge loans and tailoring specific financing and consulting packages for international projects and entities by enhancing their ability to create, develop and manage various asset classes.

The fund is set-up to accelerate growth and utilization of media and entertainment infrastructures through strategic capital deployment and by streamlining investment, acquisition and exit processes in Singapore. Backers include financial institutions including wealth management funds, high net worth individuals and corporate advisory boards.

The focus is on investment-grade, export-quality media assets with a razor-sharp target of entertainment asset incubation through global investments in film, broadcast, online channels, streaming and new media technologies.This fund differs in that it doesn’t solely involve China, India and North Asia, but rather focuses on the very dynamic ASEAN region and its burgeoning media-tech industry.

The budget for the average feature film in Southeast Asia is $300 thousand, while an hour-long television series hovers around $1.2 million. The average rate on returns with proper distribution allows for an ROI of 125-160% on features and 140% for television licenses in Southeast Asia and North America.

By introducing film financing there as viable and sustainable, and also a healthy investment-grade option, this new initiative is enabling the formation of new investment capital by providing investors an opportunity to access a portfolio of projects. The company safeguards its investors’ interests by embracing risk management and due diligence frameworks consistent with best practices in the financial sphere.

There have already been several film deals made, such as the faith-based 100 Yards, which was a co-production with Singapore, the U.S. and the Philippines. Other upcoming projects include Mogwai, a creature-feature movie helmed by award-winning Spanish director Alejandro Suarez Lozano and the crime saga Lanun, set in Indonesia and directed by two-time Sundance winner, Leonard Retel Helmrich.

“We look forward to providing support to both international projects and regional content creators via our ecumenical and cross-cultural platform. We aim to consolidate and institutionalize investment into robust media and entertainment properties,” says Deimen, adding the goal to match infrastructure with the growth of China and India. “There are 630 million people that live and breathe stories here. We’re blessed with great production value, amazing locations and powerful storytellers, but we’re lacking a consolidated and structured media investment strategy from regional players.”

Deimen also runs the largest media-financing platform in the region, Southeast Asian Film Financing Forum, which is held annually in December. Last year’s keynote speaker was the president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, and this year it will be the executive producer of the Oscar-winning film, The Danish Girl, Kathy Morgan. SAFF’s aim is to institutionalize media financing with the wider investment circle in Southeast Asia and to create sophisticated tools to monetize content in the region.

“I’ve been lucky enough to have filled many roles through the years working across the globe,” Deimen says. “I’ve seen how things are done in various industries, in different regions, and having a robust financing backbone is fundamental in creating something sustainable for filmmakers.”

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