AACAs Spotlight Asian Creative Excellence

Jun 20th, 2024

Asia’s leading producers and distributors will be convening again to celebrate the diversity of the content produced across the region at the Asian Academy Creative Awards (AACAs) this December. Across 41 categories, content from 17 countries in the Asia Pacific will vie to be crowned the best in the region, but, as Michael McKay, founder and president of the AACAs, notes, the event and the broader goals of the Asian Academy of Creative Arts go beyond a golden statuette.

“Our mission is to promote AsiaPac content and creatives to the rest of the world,” Michael says. “It’s important that people understand it’s not just about a glittering trophy, it’s about business. And it’s a great time for Asia to drive that business now.”

As part of those efforts, Michael and his partner, Fiona McKay, CEO of the Asian Academy of Creative Arts, have been staging an array of networking events across the region, including in Taipei, Jakarta, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok and Manila. “We want to be able to connect with each of the different nations that are part of the Asian Academy,” Michael says. “These networking events allow us to do that. They’ve also been important in bringing the local industry together.”

Elite members of the Asian Academy of Creative Arts are automatically invited to the organization’s networking events, which feature “a curated list of guests,” Fiona says. “There is a roundtable discussion about local production and the challenges and opportunities.”

Beyond networking and the awards, the Academy also hosts an annual Producers Summit and Masterclass, with this year’s editions set to stream online on July 18 and 19. At the Producers Summit, past winners will discuss their projects, while the Masterclass sessions will focus on the theme of “What’s Next?”

“Last year, everyone just wanted to talk about AI, and that’s part of what’s next,” Michael says. “There’s a fear in the industry, and we’re all wondering what’s over the hill. We’re all marching up there but don’t know what’s there. It’s about equipping our industry with the knowledge of what’s next. Everybody is still going to need content. There’s a rearranging of the deck chairs right now. But it’s not the Titanic! We’ll emerge, as we have from every other time of change. This one is perhaps more profound than before, but people will still need content. How is the industry making money from that?”

After the online Producers Summit and Masterclass, the team will shift all their focus to this year’s Awards ceremonies. Entries close on August 1, with the national winners from each country to be announced on Facebook at the end of September. On December 3 and 4, the AACAs head to their new home: the Capitol Theatre in Singapore. New for this year are scripted and non-scripted divisions in key categories like format adaptations, cinematography and best streaming original, as well as a special discounted rate for start-ups, students and non-profits looking to enter the short-form category.

“In places that are used to having an academy, people understand their value,” says Michael. “There’s skepticism because the track record for awards locally has not been wonderful. But I think people are starting to embrace what it means to have an award that is properly voted for, to an international standard. What’s judged the best wins.”

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