Celebrating AsiaPac’s Excellence

Jun 27th, 2023

The Asian Academy Creative Awards (AAAs) were launched five years ago by Michael and Fiona McKay to celebrate the best in Asia-Pacific content. Today, the annual awards ceremony is just one prong in the Asian Academy of Creative Arts’ efforts to elevate the region’s storytelling globally.

“We have three missions,” says Fiona. “The first, with the AAAs, is to promote creative AsiaPac talent to the international market. I think we’ve made tremendous progress there. Our second mission is to train the next generation of industry professionals with our skills-development programs, such as our annual masterclasses and a Producers Summit. And the third mission, our newly introduced Elite Membership, combines the first two objectives with a high-level networking program. The Elite Membership recognizes outstanding career achievements. If you attend the networking sessions or special events, you can connect with fellow Elite Members who have been similarly acknowledged for excellence in the creative arts. Our exclusive industry networking events aim to create greater cohesion and encourage co-production and idea-sharing among powerhouse filmmakers and creators.”

Entries are now open for the 2023 edition of the AAAs, with submissions due by August 15. National winners, hailing from 16 countries and territories across 35 categories, will be unveiled via an international live stream on September 28, with those honorees then going on to vie for the best-in-AsiaPac Grand Awards in Singapore from December 7 to 8.

“The Asian Academy Creative Awards were created to be hard to win,” says Michael. “You’ve got to be judged the best in your own country, then compete against up to 16 others from around the entire region in each category.” He adds: “Obviously, the sense of achievement is through the roof, and deservedly so.”

According to Michael and Fiona, the foundation stone of the AAAs is the integrity of its judging systems, which were purposely based on the International Emmy scoring system. “We wanted AsiaPac’s works to be judged to the same standard, to be internationally benchmarked,” says Michael, himself an International Emmy winner for his work on The Amazing Race Australia. “We wanted a system familiar to international judges, and we wanted to give confidence to AAA winners that they could compete at a global level.”

And there are clear benefits to an AAAs win beyond the honor of being recognized as among the best shows made in the region. “You can expect an international sales bump of between 8 and 16 percent,” Michael says. “From a business marketing point of view, it’s really important.”

Developing the skill sets of producers across the region is also a core mandate of the Asian Academy of Creative Arts, with a series of masterclasses and the Producers Summit set to run in Singapore on July 26 and 27. The lineup of speakers at the Producers Summit this year includes award-winning director and producer Aidee Walker from New Zealand, ABP Studios’ Vivek Mathur, Vice Media’s Samira Kanwar, award-winning actress Jodi Sta. Maria, Warner Bros. Discovery’s Clement Schwebig (chair of the 2023 Asian Academy Creative Awards) and Weiyu Films’ Lee Thean-Jeen. “We’ll look at AI, future trends, virtual production and more,” Michael notes. “We like to pick subjects that help us learn about the newer things coming into the industry. It’s great for the students. It’s also great for the old industry veterans like myself who want to keep up.”

The newest development at the Academy is the launch of an Elite Membership program, a plan that’s been long in the works but was interrupted by the pandemic. “We always wanted to have an organization that we could all belong to as an industry, that represented us and gave our members opportunities,” Michael says. “Our Elite Membership is an acknowledgment of people’s achievements within the industry. It’s a referral/endorsement, peer-judged membership. We want it to be a calling card for the industry. Members receive concessions on tickets and complimentary entry to events across the region. We want it to be a terrific member-to-member networking opportunity.”

Those network opportunities include a series of events across Asia, beginning with one in Taipei on June 15 that showcased Taiwan’s attractive foreign production incentives and infrastructure. Up next will be gatherings in Jakarta, Bangkok, Manila, Tokyo and other cities to be announced, Fiona says.

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