By Ulisari Eslita
One of the Cartoon Network’s most popular series is The Garfield Show, starring the famous orange cat. It may come as a surprise that the animated show is created entirely on Batam at Infinite Studios, the operating company of the Singapore-based Infinite Frameworks Pte Ltd. The animation studios are located behind a disguised door at the Turi Beach Resort, a five-star resort hotel on Batam’s Nongsa beach.
Behind the door, one finds cartoon icons and posters everywhere on the walls. As the studio is in a resort and only a few meters from the beach, everyone is dressed as if on holiday, wearing shorts and slippers as they work away at their computers. Most are under 30, many recent graduates who have been “imported” from places such as Jakarta, Bandung or Yogyakarta. “At the beginning, it was not easy to bring artists here to Batam. As you see, most of our artists are very young, we have to convince the parents that we will take good care of their kids,” says Mike Wiluan, managing director and owner of the Infinite Frameworks Pte Ltd. (The Turi resort is owned by his family as well.)
Mike’s vision is to create one of Asia’s leading film and animation companies, which can do everything from helping others make films and animation to making its own original works. Mike deliberately runs the business in two countries: Indonesia and Singapore. For him, Indonesia’s local creative talent is a major advantage. “Indonesian culture is filled with celebration and artistic expression. We believe the creative DNA has long been here and can be nurtured,” Mike explains. On the other hand, Singapore has a great intellectual property protection and has a sophisticated business environment. “When we combine these two,” he says. ”We get the ideal output.”
Mike acquired Infinite Frameworks in 2004 from Singapore’s Mediastream Pte Ltd., a media company that produced educational media for children and other products. At the time, Infinite Frameworks was just a simple post-production services firm, doing only animation post production and visual effects. Then he pumped in around $2 million to turn the company into the first high-definition post-production facility in Singapore.
The following year, Mike implemented the second part of his strategy by creating his studios on Batam. During those years, Mike had to make major capital investments in Batam such as importing and installing all the equipment and technology, plus the supporting infrastructure as well as building the staff housing and so on. It was a major risk since there was no guarantee that his vision of turning Batam into a hub for animation and filming would succeed. (FI)