Traditional doesn’t apply here. Mike Wiluan is fast becoming the expert in bucking the norms in the business of film and digital commerce. He is the CEO of Infinite Studios – an award winning film production and animation company based in Singapore and Indonesia. Recent accolades include being the local co-producers for international smash hit ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ in Singapore.
Established in 1997, Infinite boasts an impressive body of work and has evolved from providing creative services such as post-production, visual effects and animation to creating its own original content for the global digital media industry.
Entrepreneur-writer-actor-director-producer. We proffered 20 quick fire questions (well..mostly) to the man with the multi-hyphenate career to suss out what makes him tick.
Your acquisition of a small production house in 2004 and transforming it into the multi-award-winning media company it is today seems fortuitous, but the journey could not have been easy. What were the hard truths you learned about building a business and managing people?
The journey was certainly far from easy. But no journey worth taking is easy and it is those challenges one encounters that allows individuals and teams to evolve. As soon as I acquired Infinite we had to evolve with the fast changing times of business, economic booms, busts and the evolvement of technology. It was a race to be relevant and significant while developing a culture and a value proposition. The hard truth in this process is that not all runners finish the course they set out to run. There’s attrition but there’s also new blood. New generations who think differently and see things in perspectives you never imagined. We are a people business first so we value craft, creativity, integrity, excellence and communication. These are human traits that push the limits of the technology we use.
Walk us through what a typical 24 hours is like for you.
In my earlier life, my days would have been a little more structured. Now a days since I have taken a more creative and show running role it really depends whether I am on a deadline for a script, running a show or in between shows where I run the business. But to run a business or a show, one has to be healthy and strong in mind as well as being physically capable. Travel, events, public speaking, running shows, directing a film or a television series takes a toll on the body. So exercising daily is habitual for me and this is mostly in the morning for an hour and a half. After which I take the time to read the news and the industry news in particular. A good morning regimen is important before moving on with the rest of the day. Depending on where I am, I would start the day later and end later. I read, write and watch a lot of content so it’s important I get active with meetings during the day to balance out the time in the evenings.
How involved are you in the day to day running of the business?
The day to day operations are conducted by my COO Freddie Yeo. Each division has a Vice President who reports to him. I focus on strategic business development, content partnerships and investor relations. We all talk daily as things move pretty fast.
What’s your time management style like?
In order to be most productive I try to balance out my day so that I am efficient but not overloaded. Overloaded schedules do not always produce thoughtful results in my experience. Back to back meetings are sometimes necessary given the urgency of business decisions but time to reflect and think on next steps are equally important. I give my managers a lot of latitude and empower them to make certain decisions and calls. It’s important that they take calculated risks and they feel like they have skin in the game.
Favourite time of the day and why?
It depends where I am in the world. But the golden hours of sunsets are always seemingly magical for me.
Do you have a daily habit or ritual that helps keep you focused?
Reading, writing and exercising. Knowledge, creativity and physical capability for me is the key to making the next day better.
Share with us your philosophy for living a meaningful life.
Life is short so live it without regret.
Which film projects are you most proud to be a part of and why?
I’ve produced so many projects and each one has its special place of pride. Buffalo Boys was my directorial debut and the toughest of all shows to produce, so if I had to choose, that would be it.
Who are your heroes in the film industry?
Orson Welles. Sergei Leone. Quentin Tarantino. Clint Eastwood. Tim Burton. Alfred Hitchcock.
What genres are you attracted to and why?
I grew up on westerns so I love them and managed to make one. I love thrillers too.
5 favourite films of all time?
I have so many favourite films and they keep revolving.
1. The Man Who Would Be King
2. Hateful Eight
3. Citizen Kane
4. Interview with a Vampire
5. English Patient
Favourite animated movie of all time?
It was the Iron Giant but now it’s Coco
Currently watching ___________________ and reading _________________
Suburra season 2 on Netflix The Underground Railroad by Coulson Whitehead
What’s something you love that everyone hates?
Guns. I love guns and I love shooting them.
We hear that you have a healthy obsession with fashion, accessories and timepieces. How would you describe your personal style? What are your go-to timepieces for everyday wear vs special occasion?
Nowadays I care more for comfort than style. T-shirts, jeans, good leather shoes or sneakers and a blazer. I travel so much now and tend to keep to certain watches that are more practical that can withstand water soaking and bashing so either it’s my Omega Seamaster, my Hublot army pattern with rubber strap or my Sinn Diver watch. If I go out it’s either the Rolex Daytona or my rectangular Zenith.
3 things you can’t live without
My kids. All three of them.
What’s on your playlist?
Best of Amy Winehouse. Jorja Smith. Marvin Gaye. The Nashville playlist and Swagger playlist from Spotify.
Tipple of choice
Korean Shoju. Then single malt. If i need to have a cocktail it would be a Negroni.
What’s the next big leap for Infinite Studios?
Complete this sentence: Take time to …
enjoy parts of life that cannot be rewound.