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World Screen Newsflash

April 21, 2021


AAAs Celebrate Asian Storytelling Excellence

Korea’s Crash Landing on You, India’s Queen and Malaysia’s The Garden of Evening Mists were among the shows that walked away with a coveted Goddess of Creativity trophy at the Asian Academy Creative Awards (AAAs) in 2020. Now in its fourth year, the celebration of Asian storytelling excellence operates on a unique model, first presenting a series of national winners across a wave of categories for shows from 16 countries, followed by best of Asia regional wins, with a jury consisting of content executives from across the globe.

The AAAs “curate the best content from AsiaPac,” says Michael McKay, the president of the AAAs, who created the event with his partner Fiona McKay, CEO of the AAAs. “If I was a buyer, I know where I’d be looking.”

The AAAs have traditionally been held in Singapore at the beginning of December, serving as a vital part of the Singapore Media Festival alongside the Asia TV Forum. Last year, as Covid-19 disrupted events across the globe, the ceremony’s organizers quickly put in place a plan to deliver a next-generation virtual awards ceremony. “Our virtual awards weren’t without challenges, but I love the fact that we stood right out on the cliff face—we took a big swing,” Michael says.

That big swing included a virtual red carpet streamed live with partner Facebook. “We were able to put people from all these different countries on a single red carpet talking to hosts as they normally would,” Michael says. “We did that for the artists and their fans. They’ve been ***Image***disconnected for most of the year.” The AAAs utilized studios across the region, including in Myanmar, Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Australia and Singapore. “We had virtual tracking devices on cameras in Singapore and Sydney,” Michael explains. “Wherever the camera moved, the set would move with it. So we were able to put [presenters] Bobby Tonelli and Yvette King as if [they were next to each other]. We had major weekly production meetings. I think we all felt a weekly mixture of excitement and trepidation. And we did it live. It was challenging. We were pushing the boundaries. The biggest challenge though in any [virtual] award show is bringing in all the Zoom feeds!”

The entry period is now open for the 2021 awards, with shows produced in Asia and first transmitted between July 1, 2020, and August 1, 2021, eligible to be submitted for consideration in 30-plus categories. Some categories have been paused for this year due to Covid-19, among them sports and feature films. New for the 2021 awards is the best voice actor category. “There’s a lot of animation that gets done in our region,” Michael says. “It also covers narration. And we brought back best wildlife and natural history. Given the standard right now, we thought they deserved their own category rather than competing with all the other documentaries.”

The deadline for submissions is August 15, 2021, with an early bird discount in effect until May 31. “This year, we gave some emerging nations and independent start-up producers a discounted rate to support them,” says Fiona. “And we added a special rate for bulk entries.”

Michael and Fiona also stress the importance of the AAAs learning and networking program, The Academy Campus, chaired by NBCUniversal’s Christine Fellowes and consisting of a Producers Summit and a Masterclass Series. “There are a lot of conferences that focus on the business of TV and the business of distribution,” Michael notes. “There are not too many focused on the business of actually making content.”

The Academy Campus, Michael adds, “is a signature piece that has enabled people to see we’re serving the industry as a true academy should. The Masterclasses are aimed more at students and the Producers Summit is aimed at the industry. But I was surprised when we were going through the stats how many industry professionals attended the Masterclasses. It shows there’s a real appetite from within the industry to upskill. That informed us to include the industry more in all the programs. This year, Fiona’s approach will be a bit broader in terms of who attends.”

Fundamental to the AAAs, Michael says, is the integrity of the judging process. As such, he adds, “The award has immense value. People understand what they’ve won and just how hard it is to win. Beyond the prestige, the Goddess also adds to a winner’s bottom line. We did some industry research and the feedback was that winning a Goddess can increase your international sales by between 8 and 16 percent.”

See the AAAs 2020 Spotlight here.

More on the AAAs and a Showcase Selection of Past Winners

Enter Now

***Video***Entries are now open for the 2021 Asian Academy Creative Awards in 37 categories. The eligibility period is for works released between July 1, 2020 and August 1, 2021. Take advantage of the Early Bird Price ending on May 31, 2021. More details here.
Watch now on WorldScreenings.com

Curating AsiaPac’s Best

***Video***Over two nights, across 40 categories, the 2020 Asian Academy Creative Awards honored AsiaPac’s finest works in what Michael McKay, president of the awards, describes as a must-watch event for any buyer or co-producer. “Imagine a team of around 300 industry experts assessing the best works from 16 nations across 40 different categories. Imagine they then choose the best work from each country, then assess them again, to choose the single best entry for that category. It would be a mammoth project but it would basically curate the best of the best for you. Well that’s what the Asian Academy Creative Awards does, it curates the best of the best, which is why no industry professional can afford not to lean into it.”
Watch now on WorldScreenings.com

Creating a Virtual Awards

***Video***The Asian Academy Creative Awards was determined to honor AsiaPac’s most outstanding content, even in the face of a global pandemic. The organizers put together a technical team consisting of Elevate Broadcast, Ross Video, LiveU, Gravity Media and Reality Rentals, led by executive producer Michael McKay. Studios were established in Singapore, Sydney, Manila, Myanmar, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Bangkok and Los Angeles. A control center capable of handling up to 280 incoming feeds was set up in Sydney. Ross Video created the 3D Theatre and Red Carpet Ballroom and LiveU units were used to handle the key video/audio feeds. And so it was that hosts, presenters, winners and performers from all over the world were able to virtually grace the stage of the 3D “AAA Theatre” or walk the famed AAA Red Carpet.
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***Video***Check out the Grand Final Winners and National Winners from ABS-CBN/iWant (Philippines), including 2020 Best Actor in a Leading Role, Arjo Atayde, who claimed his country’s solitary gold for his stunning performance as Benjo in the political thriller Bagman.
Watch now on WorldScreenings.com


***Video***Astro Malaysia has been a strong performer at AAA level, perhaps capped by last year’s win for Best Feature Film, the critically acclaimed The Garden of Evening Mists. Here are some insights into their award-winning work.
Watch now on WorldScreenings.com


***Video***Korean powerhouse CJ ENM is another strong performer, having claimed five of the AAA’s coveted golden Goddess statuettes in the past three years, but none shone brighter than 2020 Best Drama Series winner Crash Landing On You.
Watch now on WorldScreenings.com


***Video***Singaporean national broadcaster Mediacorp led the country to the top of the AAA’s national leader board in 2020 with a strong lineup of in-house productions, coupled with a strategy of commissioning key local producers.
Watch now on WorldScreenings.com


***Video***The AAA uses an internationally benchmarked scoring system so it serves as an excellent barometer of production achievement throughout the region. That’s especially apparent in Taiwan. Broadcaster Sanlih has performed strongly at international level and won the 2020 Best Sound award for its acclaimed drama Yong-Jiu Grocery Store.
Watch now on WorldScreenings.com


***Video***Foundation Patron ViacomCBS has produced an impressive body of work from AsiaPac, including Yo! MTV Raps, which delivered host Yung Raja a 2019 Goddess for Best Entertainment Host. MTV followed up with 2020’s Best Comedy Performance thanks to Singapore’s Hirzi Zulkiflie’s efforts in Stand Up! Asia.
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***Video***Foundation Patron WarnerMedia has been a formidable performer in each year of the AAAs, including Cartoon Network’s animation standout Lamput (a three-time winner), CNN and drama powerhouse HBO.
Watch now on WorldScreenings.com

The Asian Academy Creative Awards are AsiaPac’s most prestigious awards for creative excellence. For 2021, the coveted golden Goddess statuette will be awarded to the finest works across 37 categories. Judged to the highest international standards by over 300 Members of Jury, this award stands as a true pinnacle of creative achievement. In addition, the AAAs Academy Campus skills-development programs provide training for industry professionals and media students via panels, Masterclasses and the annual Producers’ Summit.

For more information on the AAAs, contact Fiona McKay.


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