DURING the most recent media address at Content Malaysia Pitching Centre, the National Film Development Corporation Malaysia (FINAS) unveiled its plans to push the film industry as a source of economic growth.
Explaining that FINAS is working on more than just improving local content, Director-General Kamil Othman wants local cinema to contribute a more significant share to the national gross domestic product (GDP).
“Currently, creative content only contributes 0.3% to the country’s GDP, and this figure is based on all creative industries including film, theatre, and even games,” stated Kamil. “We hope to raise it to at least 0.8 – 1.0%, and we are going to do this by stepping out of entertainment and into the economic environment — our content shouldn’t merely aim to menghibur.”
Among many things Kamil hopes to do is to amend Finas Act 1981 — the definition of film has not been updated since the inception of the act in the 80s — as well as create more opportunities for multimedia graduates from local tertiary education institutions such as Multimedia University, The One Academy and Limkokwing University of Creative Technology.
“Local talent often have to go overseas for better opportunities, people like James Wan, Michelle Yeoh and Jimmy Choo have all built their careers overseas,” he continues. “FINAS wants to create a conducive creative environment which will help Malaysians thrive locally.”
According to FINAS, Prime Minister Najib Razak progressed to focusing on communications content and infrastructure as an important element to develop a high-income nation after the Government Transformation Program (GTP) was executed in 2010 to encouraging results.
FINAS will now play an important part in executing the Economic Transformation Plan (ETP), set to empower the film industry to achieve a gross national income (GNI) of USD1 billion by 2020. This would also translate to approximately 10,300 new jobs created.
To achieve these goals, Kamil will be working on two major areas which you can read about in the following, provided by FINAS.
Globalising the Malaysian film industry
1. Kamil has outlined his aspirations in globalizing and transforming local film industry in accordance to international standards in the areas of:
- new principles, policies and practices
- new administrative eco-system model and;
- new socio-economic model
2. This includes the right policies, legislation, institutions, standard operating procedures and funding mechanisms that essentially help to develop a better industry in terms of job creation, accreditation, exports, high value services and other socio-economic imperatives. This will also inevitably lead to a concerted effort to connect all the dots between this industry and the relevant public sector areas directed towards national growth through tourism, manufacturing, trade , technology and communications.
3. In producing and upskiling creative talents, FINAS has been collaborating with international filmmakers and experts to share their knowledge and provide global views on the film industry. Masterclasses in film production, documentation, distribution, marketing and animation by award-winning filmmakers and practitioners have widened the knowledge spectrum of local players.
4. The government’s establishment of Content Malaysia Pitching Centre (CMPC) serves as a strategic platform to produce and incubate filmmakers through new mechanisms of funding where they are assessed based on idea, script, production value and other important elements strictly based on international SOPs. Potential Malaysian scripts have been further evaluated by international counterparts in Canada, Japan, Korea and Britain which has given room for creative export internationally. Through CMPC, 42 local projects have been approved on US$5.8 million funds, generating 1359 jobs for industry players.
5. Being a true film lover, Kamil believes in building cinema awareness and appreciation among the people, which would gradually manifest through an aspiration towards making and watching good films. Therefore, he has introduced new SOPs and quality control measures for Malaysian films screened in the cinema, which will mould local producers into creating good films.
6. Kamil strongly believes in developing scripts as they are the fundamentals of a great movie. Thus, he wants to emphasize on improving the creative ecosystem, which will benefit all aspects of filmmaking.
Strengthening international platforms
1. To position Malaysia globally in the film industry, the voice of FINAS as an international film body must be heard. Kamil has been appointed with some important roles namely the Vice Chairman of Asian Film Commissions Network (AFCNet), and the member of Asian Film Awards and Association of Film Commissioners International (AFCI). In addition, FINAS also sits in the Asian Content Business Summit Team (ACBS) aiming to raise and develop content industry in Asia by public-private sectors from Asian countries and regions together.
2. This platform is essentially important in positioning Malaysia and building more strategic partnerships in international co-productions like hosting FLY 2015 ASEAN-ROK Film Leaders Incubator that was co-organized with the Busan Film Commission and the Asian Film Commissions Network.
3. Another interesting collaboration is on documentary co-production between FINAS and global partners; ASEAN Countries, Japan and Fiji. FINAS has also collaborated with international broadcasters National Geographic and History Channel to produce world class documentaries depicting local subjects.
4. Exporting and distributing creative content globally has also been greatly emphasized by Kamil. FINAS has been an important representative for local producers in international film markets particularly the Hong Kong Film Market, Marche Du Film, MIPTV, MIPCOM and Asia Television Forum. This international marketing platform provides business opportunity for Malaysian producers to communicate directly with global distributors, buyers and programmers. In this year’s Marche Du Film, FINAS programmed Malaysia Goes To Cannes to promote 5 films that have potential to reach global audience, distributors, and festival programmers.
5. FINAS has been chosen by foreign counterparts to host international programs in Malaysia namely China Film Week, ASEAN Film Screenings, ASEAN China Film Festival, Asian Content Business Summit, Latin America Film Festival, and the French Film Festival — all of which results of the international relations and networks carried by FINAS in the past two years.
6. FINAS is also finalizing an international co-production treaty with Australia aiming to build on growing co-production opportunities and paving the way for producers in both countries for creative exchanges and screen projects.
7. FINAS has been industrious in promoting foreign direct investment into Malaysia through the Film in Malaysia Incentive (FIMI). The objectives of FIMI is to encourage Malaysian film producers to create creative content that is of high quality for international and domestic markets, and to attract foreign film producers to carry out filming activities in Malaysia and thus turn Malaysia into an international film location. In this regard, a 30% cash rebate of the total cost of film production and post-production will be given to a foreign company or production shooting in Malaysia. As reported in the National Transformation Program (NTP) 2015, FIMI has experienced a phenomenal growth in 2015 with a 40% percent increase in terms of production investment, worth over US 130.5 million. Of this amount, 98 percent was foreign-led, and this has explicitly become a strategy that FINAS should continue in promoting Malaysia as a global film location and gradually.
What do you think?
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