Women We Love 2024: Vision New Media’s Min Lim Talks About The Business of Show Business

The Group CEO of Vision New Media wants to make movies, money and move Malaysian cinema into the international space.
text by Daween Maan

Min Lim

While Lim Siu Min would prefer being behind a camera, in the middle of the night shooting a scene for the dozenth time, than to be behind a desk looking over budgets and reports, for the last year or so, she’s found a way to do both. The Group CEO of Vision New Media and Head of Production for Double Vision plays a hybrid role that is rare in the film industry – the Creative Corporate, a label that she will undoubtedly dislike, but fulfil for the betterment of her company.

“There is some merit to this left-brain right-brain thing,” she says, “And not all creatives are set up to do the business side, and that’s fine, you should do what you are inclined to. But our industry is incredibly collaborative; nothing is made in isolation so it’s all about finding the right partners on both sides.”

Starting with the company she now oversees as a Production Assistant on film and TV sets in her teens, this industry is all Min has known and wanted to be a part of. More recently, as a producer and creative force behind shows like the Malaysian- Singaporean adaptation of The Bridge and Liar, the show co-produced with Astro Shaw, she has played a part in pushing local entertainment into a larger market with better production value and more serious storytelling. She admits however that there is still a long way to go.


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“As much as you can say ‘creativity wins out’, budgets are also very important, and in Malaysia, the standard drama gets made for twelve and a half thousand U.S. dollars, while in Indonesia, they’re now making shows for a hundred and fifty thousand U.S. dollars per episode. In America, no one gets out of bed for less than two million U.S. dollars an episode. So, the gap is massive, but that said, we don’t need two million dollars because we’re more cost-efficient, but the budgets are a big reason why we’ve not been able to push the boundaries.”

The lack of funding, Min explains, creates a cascading effect that strangles the ability to attract and retain creative talent, particularly behind the camera, leaving Malaysia lagging behind even its regional competitors.

“The problem here is that unless you don’t have to do it for the money it’s hard to survive. It’s quite common that when people start getting married, especially men, they start leaving the industry because they don’t make enough money to sustain a family. So, there are a lot of sacrifices that you have to make on a personal level to be here, you end up structuring your life around work and it’s difficult to sustain.”

Emergency produced by Sympatico

But Min’s current goal points to a way to get over this hurdle: “We’re really pushing the international scene. It’s cliched, I know: ‘Bigger! Better!’, but we have a lot of room and potential to grow.”

During the Covid pandemic, with almost all production work brought to a complete stop, Min and her company spent their time building an international slate. This includes forming the label Sympatico with UK-based Argo Films which will see them produce two TV series and four films over the next few years. Min also confirmed securing finance for their first international film, to be helmed by a Canadian director, but written by Malaysians and set in Malaysia.

“What we want to do is tell Malaysian and Asian stories, a lot more than what we’ve been doing, and you have to do it with partners. We are nowhere near the top of our industry, at least by my internal scorecard, so getting one of our international projects off the ground this year will be a huge step.”

Despite her clear love for her work as head of production, it is obvious why she was chosen as the Group CEO for the nearly 40-year-old company. “Box office!” she yells with a laugh when given the binary choice against awards. The writer-producer- director doesn’t flinch when it comes to fulfilling her larger role in the organisation.

Min Lim

“I think I try to do as much as possible. We’re not a big business in terms of number of employees, and I want to keep it that way. I like keeping it light and nimble. I have sat in meetings where there are ten people on the other side and just me on this side; I like that flexibility. But I also have a very good team, and I like to give them ownership of what they do; if they can take it and run with it, then I let them.”

Despite appearing to be very much on top of her game switching her multiple hats, Min confesses it has all been a journey of learning, with the hardest lesson being: “accepting rejection.”

“People say no to you all the time,” she says with a weight of disappointment. “And sometimes it’s for really stupid reasons, and in really mean ways. It’s very hard to not take it personally because you put a lot of your blood, sweat and tears into actually thinking up these concepts and you think they’re a great show, but you just get turned down.”

“Then there are times when we’ve sent things and they came back with notes and it bugged us even more because they were right,” she laughs. “So, in this job, you have to learn to take criticism, and that’s something you can apply to your whole life. Sometimes people are too quick to take offence at things, but you have to learn and persevere.”


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“Do you know the story of Stallone?” she lights up as she retells the famous story of Sylvester Stallone, who was living in his car and was rejected by nearly every producer as he tried to sell his script for ‘Rocky’ under the condition that he would play the title role. “I think about the number of people who said no to Stallone but look where he is today. Spielberg was rejected from USC Film School three times. There are so many examples in my industry of people being told ‘no’ and they still come back stronger.”

As she looks to the future, Min is hopeful, and despite the big steps she’s taking with her company, her goals are grounded; sure, they’re going international, but she knows the gap between Malaysia and Hollywood is unrealistically large, so she’s looking closer to home.

“There’s always talk about ‘we have to win the Oscars’ but we don’t even know the first thing about doing that. I think right now we’re not even as good as Indonesia and Thailand, and we need to be able to compete in the region first.”

“We are getting better of course, more shows and movies are going out there and are being seen on an international stage, and we want to get there too, but we want to get to a point where people say: ‘That’s a good show’ not ‘good for a Malaysian show,’ just ‘a good show,’ full stop.”

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