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Lucasfilm's regional HQ opens in Singapore
Publication Date : 18-01-2014
When film icon George Lucas first proposed expanding the company bearing his name from the US into Asia a decade ago, others deemed him "a little crazy".
The worry was that the quality of work produced overseas would not match up to the standard of Lucasfilm's California headquarters, the Star Wars creator said.
But the firm's new regional headquarters - the Sandcrawler - now stands as a symbol of Lucasfilm Singapore's achievement against the odds.
"This is a symbol of the people of Singapore and computer animation combining with Lucasfilm to create something that is world quality," Lucas said on Friday at the facility's opening.
Named after the towering vehicles in the Star Wars universe, the building features seven floors of office space, a 100-seat theatre and state-of-the-art production capabilities. Added Lucas: "I'm very proud of what we've accomplished. We couldn't have found a better partner anywhere in the world."
Lucasfilm decided to set up here in 2005 for several reasons. For one thing, Singapore had been "so giving and encouraging" in its education programmes and efforts to build a local industry, Lucas said.
The 9/11 terrorist attacks made it hard for Lucasfilm to bring talent from other countries into the United States, but "Singapore was very gracious in allowing us a very liberal immigration policy, understanding that you need to bring people from all over the world".
The places that Lucasfilm looked at in its expansion plans included India, Taiwan and Japan, but Singapore stood out because "besides having an enormous amount of creativity and talent, (it) is also a very good place to live", said Lucas, 69.
Since then, he said, the Singapore arm has won the stamp of approval from two of the industry's biggest names: Lucasfilm's visual effects division Industrial Light & Magic and animation giant Pixar.
ILM pronounced Singapore "equal to what's going on in California", he said. "That's more important than the Academy Award, as far as I'm concerned."
Besides working on blockbusters like The Avengers, Star Trek Into Darkness and Pacific Rim, Lucasfilm Singapore has also ventured into animation, producing the Star Wars: The Clone Wars TV series and contributing to Rango, the Academy Award winner for best animated feature in 2012.
The Sandcrawler is a further milestone showing that Lucasfilm Singapore is here to stay, said Lucas. Upcoming projects include a new animated feature, Transformers 4 and biblical epic Noah.
"We're not running or spacing, we're actually starting a business here," said Lucas.