Singapore-based distributor and film investor Scorpio East has made a couple of key appointments as it ramps up its production activity and moves into theatrical distribution in neighbouring Malaysia.

The company has hired former Raintree Pictures executive Seah Sawyam as production controller for its newly-launched dedicated production unit. During her time at Raintree, Seah oversaw production of Singaporean films such as I Not Stupid 2, 881, Ah Long Pte Ltd and The Maid.

“We aim to produce or invest in a total of 3-5 local movies per year, and hopefully at least half of these films will be spearheaded by Sawyam and her team,” said Scorpio East COO Lim Teck.

He added the company also intends to invest in two to three pan-Asian or international projects a year, including Kevin Chu’s upcoming The Treasure Hunter, starring Jay Chou and produced by Taiwan’s Chang Hong Films. In the case of pan-Asian co-productions, Scorpio East aims to handle all South-East Asian distribution rights.

In addition, the company has hired Esther Hau to head up its Malaysian distribution office. Hau formerly headed the Malaysian offices of Hong Kong-based companies Media Asia and Fortune Star.

Scorpio East is already active in acquiring Malaysian rights to films, but has previously worked with Malaysian distributors such as RAM and Golden Screen Cinemas (GSC).

“With Esther on board, we hope to be able to directly distribute and market the films that we acquire for Malaysia in future,” says Lim Teck. “Also, the Malaysian market has recently opened up significantly for Singapore-made movies, so we can further maximise the returns for our movies there.”

One of the company’s first simultaneous Singapore-Malaysian releases will be Indonesian martial arts title Merentau, which recently closed the Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival (PiFan) inKorea. Scorpio East plans to release the film, which features the Indonesian martial art of Silat, in October.

The rapidly-expanding company also recently moved into its own building in a media hub in the east of Singapore that the government has earmarked to promote the local media industry. It is also partnering with local CG and effects outfit Vividthree to set up a boutique post-production house, which will be housed in the S$20m Scorpio East Building.

Vividthree previously worked on local films such as Kelvin Tong’s Men In White, Ekachai Uekrongtham’s The Wedding Game and Jack Neo’s Where Got Ghost.