Media man of action
With two channels to run and big plans for Asian-themed action movies, Jef Lim has little time these days to sit back and relax in front of his television. Instead, the head of programming and production for Tiger Gate Entertainment is out planning, buying or adapting programmes for the firm's Thrill and KIX pay channels and initiating projects for the big screen.
Previously in charge of content development for Mark Burnett Productions Asia, Lim was behind the regional adaptations of shows such as The Contender and The Apprentice, helping to pioneer high-budget, high-calibre reality television with new formats and expanding audiences.
How did you get into media?
It started from very humble beginnings, with four of us, all very young and inexperienced, trying to break into the business in Singapore. We had 'angel' investors and put in some of our own money, with an initial plan to make TV commercials and music videos. At first, it was a matter of making contacts, knocking on doors and literally getting out the phone book to make cold calls. But a combination of passion, preparation, enthusiasm and naivety helped us win a first contract for a series of commercials in India, which gave us enough capital to be viable and go into long-form content creation.
What were you doing before that?
I had grown up in Singapore and Canada and, after a year of pre-med and economics classes at Queen's University in Ontario, switched to a law degree at King's College, London, graduating in 1997. Part of the reason was that I'd met a good group of friends who were all studying in London. I was then hired straight out of college to work as legal counsel for a company in Singapore. It was a lucky break, but after a while I wanted to find something a bit more creative, so took the leap of faith with the start-up.
What did you gain from that?
In a young team, you have to do everything and face up to constant rejection, but you learn the importance of hard work and taking opportunities. We went through every difficulty you can imagine and made a ton of mistakes. We had our successes such as selling Planet Ex, featuring extreme sports and travel, to the AXN network. But we probably overextended and wound things up in 2001.
Where did you turn next?
I spent a couple of years with a private equity firm pursuing media ventures before being introduced to a group in Indonesia who wanted to launch their own youth and lifestyle channel. During two years in Jakarta, I built and managed the station.
What are your major projects?
We are just wrapping up production on Supermodel Me, a 12-part reality show that will probably premiere in February on the KIX channel. The concept is a boot camp for aspiring supermodels, featuring challenges such as martial arts training. We will also announce a first slate of feature films for next year in the action-horror-suspense genres.
Tracks to the top
Played DJ as a hobby in London and Singapore and produced music for his friends
Hopes to write and direct his own scripts, but concedes that creative writing is hard work
Likes The Million Dollar Hotel for its storyline, soundtrack and cinematography