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Issue 30

Behind The Scenes: Megastructures: Singapore's Vegas

The Making of Marina Bay Sands

A new documentary by Beach House Pictures sheds light on the extraordinary vision and visionaries behind the iconic structure.

Megastructures: Singapore's Vegas is supported by MDA's SCREEN (TV) initiative, which

aims to encourage the production and distribution of original Made-by-Singapore content for international markets and provide Singapore production companies with opportunities to maximise their properties' commercial value.

COMING soon on the National Geographic Channel worldwide ­ Megastructures: Singapore's Vegas, a documentary revealing the story behind the design and construction of the Marina Bay Sands resort and casino in Singapore. Director and writer Donovan Chan, from Beach House Pictures, talks about his inspiration for making this documentary and the challenges he faced during filming.

How did the production materialise?

The documentary was first developed by renowned New Zealand production company NHNZ for the National Geographic Channel. It was produced by the Media Development Authority of Singapore, NHNZ and Beach House Pictures.

What inspired the documentary?

Our key inspiration was the Marina Bay Sands structure itself. This multi-use luxury resort was designed by the world-renowned Israeli-Canadian architect, Moshe Safdie, and consists of a vast array of breathtaking and iconic buildings. It is so revolutionary that it is set to secure Singapore's reputation as one of the world's greatest destinations.

What is the story you want to tell through the documentary?

The documentary reveals the incredible stories behind the engineering and design of Marina Bay Sands' key structures. We also want to show that with great vision and knowhow, megastructures can defy the odds and fulfil the wildest dreams.

How did you tell this story?

A megastructure story is highly observational and often told through the experiences of engineers or designers on the ground. We were able to rig cameras to safety helmets and shoot hard-toreach places. We were also able to employ a good deal of time-lapse photography sequences. In addition, the documentary also has amazing computer-generated imagery (CGI) sequences that help explain and showcase the project's main engineering challenges.

Issue 30

What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome?

The biggest challenge was managing the massive number of individuals and organisations involved in the building of Marina Bay Sands. The complex is made up of not one, but many, megastructures. So, to tell the story behind each of them meant having to approach many people and arranging multiple schedules.

What surprised you the most during filming?

I was fortunate enough to interview many illustrious personalities who shared their experiences working on the project. They included the renowned architect Moshe Safdie and British artist Antony Gormley. Famous for the Angel of the North art structure in Northern England, Gormley was the artist behind the 3D stainless steel installation Drift in the one of the hotel tower atriums. Their incredible calmness, as well as that of the engineers, was what surprised me the most.

How did MDA's SCREEN initiative help the production?

The SCREEN initiative was integral to realising this project. It helped Beach House Pictures wrap up budgeting and get into pre-production quickly and efficiently. But most importantly, it helped create a unique Singaporean co-production and allowed a Singaporean director to tell the story of a truly Singaporean icon.

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