Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Badminton? I was okay, but never tournament standard.
When I joined NST, I decided to take up bowling and was okay saja. I did play cricket with NST and for awhile hockey. Lost most games though.
So, it is sad to say that throughout my whole life, I have not got a trophy to my name. Oh yes, I did win a trophy at golf - but mostly because of my partner Melvin. This was sometime back. Now, I can only hope for lucky draws after the end of the game to win anything.
So, it is with much pride that me - the almost sportsman - has a son who has won quite a number of trophies. Below is him. My youngest son Adi Iliya. The bowler.
That is why, if you watch local Malay dramas on Media Prima's channels and Astro's BM channels, you'd see the vast difference in dialogue.
Unlike RTM, the dramas produced for the non-Government channels proliferate in the use of words like I and You.
Dialogues are usually intersperse with English words - like, I suka pergi shopping or jom kita pergi clubbing etc etc. You know what I mean. It is very colloquial and very 'pasar'.
In RTM's dramas, you are not allowed to do that. They want local producers to uphold the integrity of our national language. Hence, either your dialogue is written in pristine Dewan Bahasa and Pustaka approved sentences or you may use some local or regional Malay dialects like Kelantanese or Penangite or Minangkabau.
If you really have to use English, it can be used in one perfect English sentence without conjoining it with the national language. But there was a time, even words like OK cannot be used.
In fact, most writers and producers have running battles with RTM to get words like shopping mall or handphone/cellphone in. Imagine the following dialogue: "Cik Mah, mari kita pergi membeli belah di pusat beli belah." Instead of "Cik Mah, mari kita pergi shopping mall."
How about : "Nanti saya telefon anda melalui telefon bimbit saya."
And: " Alamak, saya lupa lah nak bawa cakra padat yang mengandungi petikan video tu."
Look, I'm sure millions of Malaysians do speak like that, but sometimes, the characters that you want to create on TV cannot speak like that as it would totally kill the believability of the character itself.
It's like having to shoot a bar scene where the chief gangster goes to the bar, looking all so deadly and murderous, slams his fist on the bar and orders: "Satu gelas jus oren! Cepat!". Yes, this is the guy whom the audience is supposed to believe is capable of killing victims with his bare hands. "Harun, kau nak minum apa? Baiklah. Hoi, tukang jaga bar! Kawan aku nak minum susu segar!"
Look, I'm not one attack my own national language. Heck, the national language has been with us for eons and no one can destroy it. It has become what it is through time, absorbing words from other languages to be what it is today - a beautiful language. The Malay language is alive and dynamic. It is not static. It should be allowed to grow.
Words like 'gostan' for example is the Malay word that was formed by joining the words 'go astern'. The word 'jendela' for example has it roots from the Portuguese word 'janela'.
So why stifle the language?
Anyway, if the government is so concerned about the usage of Bahasa Malaysia in our daily use, do then take note of the following:
The website for the Kementerian Perpaduan, Kebudayaan, Kesenian dan Warisan (under which Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka resides) is www.heritage.com.my.
The website for the Kementerian Penerangan (which RTM resides under) is www.moi.com.my (moi stands for Ministry of Information).
The ruling party of Malaysia which is a Malay-based party uses the acronym UMNO which stands for United Malays National Organisation. It doesn't use the Malay acronym which is Pertubuhan Kebangsaan Melayu Bersatu.
In the quality campaign mooted by the government, the letter Q is used and not K.
So why the double standards?
FINAS wants us to make movies that states "Filem Kita Wajah Kita". The problem is: Wajah Kita Bukan Melayu sahaja. If we are allowed to make films in our own image, the screen would be full of colorful and interesting Malaysian characters. Not characters that speak proper Bahasa Malaysia all the time. It seems so fake most of the time.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
My son Aidyl Abadi wrote and directed this episode. It nearly went haywire when one of the lead actors decided to cancel after the completion of the first day of shoot. Buddy(Abadi) had to re-shoot everything with another actor and in three days. See for yourself what he accomplished.
This is a fun episode to make. Unfortunately, the rain came down incessantly during the shoot cutting hours from our schedule. Our camera crew was also cut down by two members making it near impossible for me to get the shots I wanted.
My mother appeared in a cameo role in the first scene.
Monday, October 27, 2008
I've been there countless of times, yet each time, it reveals something new about itself.
As usual, the golf is excellent. I took my friends to Pantai Indah Kapok near the airport. The fairways were pristine, the rough acceptable and the greens - fast.
The caddies were friendly and sweet and good at the jobs.
I made a few pars and a bunch of triples and even the good quadruple. So what, I enjoyed the game and the weather - nice and cool.
On Friday night, I went to an Indonesian film tycoon's Divali Party at the Ritz Carlton Pacific Place. It was like a Bollywood movie do - over a thousand guests, most dressed in their dressed to kill mode. The ballroom and the foyer were packed with people diving into the great food being served, not to mention the open bar with Champagne and other drinks flowing freely.
The local TV film actors and actresses were there in full force. Each table was named after a TV drama he produced - and trust me, he has produced hundreds. I even met (well I saw her from afar) my favourite Indonesia horror actress Julie Estelle who made guys go gaga in her movie Kuntilanak.
However, the crowd was too overwhelming and I was too tired after the day's golf that around 11pm I left. I zonked out the minute I hit my bed.
Now, hotels in Jakarta are world class. There's the Four Seasons, Ritz, Kempinksi, Meridien, Alila and so many others. They are US$100 plus plus per night minimum. I have no qualms nor complains about these hotels. They are good and nice and expensive.
And at times, full.
So where did I stay this time?
At a hotel in Menteng called Formule 1, managed by Accor Hotels.
This is a no frills hotel. A bit better than Tune Air Hotels and something similar to Singapore's Hang Out Hotel in Mt Emily.
You have a room, a double bed, a shower and toilet, cable TV and aircon. What more do you need? It's clean and safe and comfortable. And it's situated only five minutes from Plaza Indonesia and Seibu.
It has no F&B outlets on its own, but in the same building, on the ground floor, there's a great Italian restaurant, Starbucks, a Lebanese restaurant and a nice cafe called OhLala.
Facing the hotel across the road, is a nasi padang restaurant Natrabu, a Sunda restaurant called Senayan, a Thai restaurant called Tam Nak Thai, a couple of bakeries and a launderette. A 24-hr pharmacy is two minutes walk away.
So what else would you want?
How much did I pay for a night's sleep here? Rupiah 314,000 nett. How much is that? About RM110 per night! In Jakarta it's a steal!
So, you see, Jakarta once again surprised me. Wonder what else it has in store for me the next time I visit it.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Tomorrow, I will fly to Jakarta for three nights - for a round of golf with friends and also attend a Divali party hosted by one of Indonesia's movie tycoons.
I will be posting some pics from the Open House and maybe the PC. As I will be bringing my Mac to Jakarta, chances are I can update my blog from there.
Oh yes, it seems the upcoming Asia-Pacific Film Festival to be held in Jakarta from the 18th of November has been postponed indefinitely due to concerns of global economic slow down.
Hohum...nevermind, that means I don't have to go and come back twice to Jakarta next month. I just need to attend the Jakarta Jazz Festival on the 29th.
So to you guys out there hasta la vista baybee.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
On the first day we played at the hilly Gassan Khutan Golf Course and the next at the very long Royal Chiang Mai Golf Course.
My game was crap (at least I'm consistent). Throughout the whole tournament I only got one miserable birdie....that's it. On the first day I was a big-time ayam whilst the second day, I managed to cover my losses below a thousand Baht.
Chiang Mai is surprisingly hot for this time of the year.
Met a few old friends - Anthony Yeap, who is now a big time marketing guy in Astro, and Somboon, the Tourism Authority of Thailand rep based in KL. Somboon helped me a lot when I produced Getaway, a travel series. Without his assistance, the production would have faced unsurmountable problems. He had some really interesting stories to tell me about the production but I'd rather not post it on the blog. Thanks Somboon for the assistance during the shoot.
Chiang Mai again proved itself as a not so interesting travel spot for me. The service quality has deteriorated. I only met one taxi driver who was polite. The other services reminded me of Malaysia's, some even matching Hongkong's.
We also had a very bad experience at a karaoke disco joint which overcharged us ridiculously. After much argument we only got a miserable few dollars reduction in the bill but not after a very loud argument and exchange with the management. Tourism Authority of Thailand should check out this joint. It is the V-Club or Violin Club. They may not be over charging locals but what they did to my group of friends (there were 14 of us) was unforgivable. It spoilt an already bland three day holiday outing for most of us.
So if you happen to be in Chiang Mai and friends tell you to go to V-Club, do go but do check your wallets, make sure what you ordered is really what you ordered and really scrutinise your bills before you leave.
Below are some shots of the three-day golfing event.
Blogger at the lobby before leaving for the first round of golf at Gassan Khutan
My first flight (L-R) Anwardi, Azizi, Maliki and Zaki (the only flight with names that rhyme perfectly)
Guest group champion Fred (in blue windbreaker) with Tengku Ari (center) and Razi of Green Packet.
A sweet Thai lass playing a traditional Siamese musical instrument in the lobby of Holiday Inn Chiang Mai.
Just behind Holiday Inn, I found this small stall run by a Muslim lady. She serves Nasi Ayam and Rotee (banana, egg and matabak)
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
I'm leaving for Thailand's Northern Hills tomorrow to take part in the final leg of the Astro Masters Golf Tournament. Hahaha....I'm eyeing the wooden spoon prize.
I will not be taking my laptop as I don't intend to nor pretend that I will be doing any form of writing during my three nights there. However, if I do get a chance to update my blog I will.
Ahhhh for some peace and quite and away from the Shah Rukh Khan hullabaloo.
See you guys soon....!!! Sawasdee karppp!! Hope the ball masuk cepat the cuppp!!!
Hmmmm...just check it out and see if any of the videoclips make you want to go to Melaka for a holiday (if you know and recognise any of Melaka's locations).
Anyway, Juhi Chawla has got a case for being overlooked for a Datukship too.
Also check out the blatant product placement in the video clip.
Allahyarham Ramli Maidin, APIIT School Principal
Just after 4p.m. she called me to say the En Ramli had passed away. Soon after, I received a text message from the school informing that En Ramli had passed away.
It has to be said that the school kids attending APIIT must be shocked by the news. I personally have met him only a few times, but I am sure my wife, who is on the PTA, would have known him better.
To his family and relatives, my condolences. His passing away will be quite a loss to APIIT and the students. Al-Fatihah.
The movie is entitled Lu Fikirlah Sendiri de Movie. Nice title.
I'm particularly not much of a fan of Nabil. He is obviously a much appreciated comedian and he also looks like a talented writer too - having to write most of his material.
And because he is 'hot' it would be commercially viable to make a movie about him or with him. Doesn't matter. It's a calculated risk but a good one. I believe, if the movie is even half decent, it will be a commercial hit.
But isn't it a little sad that producers' deem Nabil's life story the only one fit to be made into a biopic?
Wouldn't the life stories of other celebrities also be of much interest to viewers? There's P. Ramlee. There's Saloma.
Wait, let me list some of the celebrities or personalities that I think movies should be made about: Jamal Abdillah, Sudirman Haji Arshad, Zaiton Sameon, Saadiah, Tompel.
Do you have any suggestions?
What about important historical figures? Mat Kilau? Dato Bahaman? Burhanuddin Helmi? Sybil Karthigesu? Botak Chin? Tok Janggut? Tun Ismail? Lat?
So many important and interesting personalities, yet, our producers could only find Nabil's life story as the one to be filmed.
Wonder what FINAS's take on this would be.
I guess they are too busy trying to complete the delayed RM30plus million sound studio. From what I heard yesterday, the sound studio is now expected to be completed and launched in December this year. We shall see.
By the way, someone told me Shah Rukh Khan, oops excuse me, Datuk Shah Rukh Khan, will not be the new Chairman of FINAS. The post has gone to an MP from Muar.
Monday, October 13, 2008
Camera tracks in from over tree, through its branches, turns and goes towards the window, goes into window, pans left and tracks more into the mansions main lobby down through the main staircase, through a massive oak door and into a massive smoking room.
The room is huge. A stuffed head of a wild boar is stuck on wall – a trophy of a past hunting trip.
Camera zooms in into the many pictures on the wall – pictures of SRK with many personalities of the world – Bush, Obama, Margaret Thatcher, Abramovich, Tendulkar, Tom Cruise, Catherine Zeta Jones, J. Lo, Micheal Jackson, Osama Bin Laden and the most attention grabbing photo – a picture of him with Datin Seri R.
Camera pans left and tracks in towards SRK who is alone, smoking a stick of maryjane. In the background, the music being played on the CD player, Rolling Stone’s Can’t Get No Satisfaction.
SRK is half way stoned. He is smiling. He is enjoying his maryjane and his music so much so he doesn’t hear nor realize his agent cum manager, Manipul Singh, coming in to meet him.
SRK went on as if he didn’t hear the voice.
SRK still didn’t react. Manipul shook his head and resigned to what he had to do. He dropped to his knees and then went prostrate.
Ohhhh great Khan..Master of the universe…most handsomest being on Earth…allow this humble being a moment of your precious time.
SRK jerked to attention. His right eye brow perked up and he smiled.
He turned and tapped Manipul on his head and signaled Manipul to sit on a chair near him.
Thank you oh great Khan.
Vat is it dat you come here for?
I have wonderful news for you O Great Khan.
Malacca has conferred upon you the title of Datuk..oh Great Khan.
SRK was in mid-puff when he jerked to a stop. He slowly turned to face Manipul.
Malaka? Vat the F is Malaka?
It’s a country…
Country? Never heard ovit. Vere is dis Malaka? Near Molukus?
It is actually a state in the country of Malaysia.
Ahhhh…Malaysia…nice country…twice sponsored to host two of our nonsensical film awards show..hahhaa…idiots…but that is Malaysia…vat is Malaka?
It is actually a state O Great Khan.
Jas now you sed Malaka was a country. Now you sed it is a state. VIch is it, Manipul? Come come. Do not waste the Khan’s time.
It is a state in Malaysia O Great Khan.
Errmm…not really sir…
Medium size state?
Vat??? Small state?
Not smallest….second smallest O Great Khan! You actually shot some scene and songs in that very beautiful state.
Manipul…I’ve shot thousands of songs…vat the F do I remember about locations….anyvay…vat film vas dat?
One Two Ka Four…
Pagal Hai!!! I hate dat bloody film….crap film!!
But the people in Melaka like it….really O Great Khan.
Okay okay…so de Sultan of Malaka vants to make me a Datuk?
No Sultan….a Yang Di Pertua Negeri…
I tot Malaysia has Sultans?
Yes..but not all states…this one has a Yang DI Pertua Negeri…
But he is considered royalty yes?
I don’t know O Great Khan..I don’t know much about Malaysian culture.
You know nothing, Manipul…you don’t have top IQ like me…you know my IQ is..
200….Yes O Great Khan…I know…
Hahaha…yes…even higher than dat guy in the veelchair who says de vorld began vith a bang….Hahahah…
O Great Khan…you have to go to Melaka to accept the award.
Are dey sending a private jet for me?
Most probably O Great Khan…the man who was supposed to have proposed your name to receive the award has a private jet at your disposal.
Really? Remind me to send him an autograph copy of my picture.
So you want to go?
I don’t know yet….only last week de French sent someone to Mumbai to give me de great award of French Order of Letters….hahaaha….they actually came to Mumbai you know Manipul…so you tink dis Yang Di Petua…
Yang Di Pertua Negeri…
Yes yes…dis fellow can come here?
No sir…you have to go…
Hmmmm….tell me something about dis fellow the Yang Di…etcetra…
He was formerly the minister of information before being elevated to Yang Di Pertua Negeri….
He’s a commoner and became a Sultan?
Not a sultan O Great Khan….more a Governor…
Not bad not bad….lemme think about it first.
Come back later…
Yes O great Khan….
Manipul stood and immediately left the room. SRK started laughing to himself.
FADE TO BLACK
All the kids (for once). Back L to R: Nurhadi, Adylla, Khairil, Deandra, Adi Iliya. Seated L to R: Abadi, Adreanna dan Khairul
Sunday, October 12, 2008
He (Shah Rukh) has all the right credentials - he is global, he has star power, he knows where Malaysia is, made a few video clips here and there in Malaysia, he has rubbed shoulders with Malaysia's elite and even the fact that he is not a Malay can be considered (currently) politically right (government can use him to help solve the Hindraf problem maybe) and oh yes, he is knowledgeable about movies - and heck he is a lot handsomer than Jins.
Datuk Shah Rukh Khan - Melaka's tourism ambassador.
His movies, including Ranjau Sepanjang Jalan and many others, have been screened world wide and won awards.
Yet, it took him 44 years to receive his Datukship.
Shah Rukh Khan shot a couple of video clips in Ayer Keroh including one for the movie One Two ka Four (which was not received well by the movie going public and the critics). According to Melaka CM YAB Datuk Seri Ali Rustam, the clip promoted Melaka to India and the world, and because of this Shah Rukh Khan is eligible for a Datukship.
Using that same logic, John Milius and Nick Nolte should both have received their Datukships from Sarawak for promoting the state in the movie Farewell To The King, and so too Sean Connery for the movie Entrapment which was shot in Kuala Lumpur.
And whomever wins the F1 in Sepang should also be given Datukships for bringing Malaysia into the spot light once a year.
It seems our State governments have been very generous this year.
One guy won the silver medal at the Olympics - and received a Datukship. Imagine what title he would have received if he had won the gold medal! A TanSriship maybe!
Hey why not travel to space and make teh tarik and you too can get a Datukship. Yes. Swim the English channel, travel to the North and South Poles, be the world squash champion or number one, receive a Datukship!
Come come, do something spectacular and get a Datukship.
Myself? Nahhh nothing I have done entitles me to a Datukship. All I've done is made three movies of which two have been screened in many places around the world. I've also assisted John Milius in the movie Farewell To The King. I was also TV3's first producer creating Nona and Kuali. I was also part of the group who first organised the country's first International Defence show. I then created a company that was amongst the first to get MSC Status and then I led investors to pump more than Rm15 million to participate in the country's eGovernment initiative and started the first network of e-service centers allowing people to their theory road test on computers. I was one of the few filmmakers who was part of the corporate scene. I wrote two books - one already published by Muzium Negara.
Produced many television series over the last 20 years including one TV series entitled Melaka and another Teater Novel. I produced a ten-minute video of Melaka's 600-year history for the Melaka museum. I brought an international exhibition to Melaka during the SAS outbreak. Nothing much compared to Shah Rukh Khan's four minute music and dance clip in a movie shown around the world.
But to tell you the truth, I don't begrudge all these Malaysians who received their Datukships. Why? Well, because they are all Malaysians.
Michelle Yeoh too is Malaysian (an Ipoh lass). And yes, she promoted Hongkong and Hollywood movies! Not a single Malaysian movie okay?! But she's Malaysian. So she deserved her Datukship. So too her husband I guess from marrying a Malaysian-born actress. Wonder why Tsai Ming Liang hasn't received a Datukship.
But Shah Rukh Khan? Is he Malaysian? Does he own any Malaysian companies? Does he do charity in Malaysia? Does he have Malaysian roots? Was his grandfather twice removed a Melaka resident? Does he know where Melaka is? Does he know who Hang Tuah is?
Does he know who Ali Rustam is?
Even the conspiracy theorists have come out of the wood works. One, a friend of mine told me that the wife of one of our top leaders is very close to Shah Rukh Khan - in fact, she is smitten by him. I have even heard of rumours - these are rumours okay and not substantiated in any way - that said there were a lot of bills that were not settled when a movie involving SRK wrapped. This included a hefty hotel bill. The amount? Nearing a million Ringgit.
This powerful woman demanded one of our ministries to settle the bill and not make a big fuss about it. It was done. What is a mere million ringgit write off to get onto the good books of this powerful woman? That's how powerful this lady is rumoured to be okay?
So maybe the leaders in Melaka wanted to appease this fiery lady and offer her favourite Bollywood film star a Datukship. Everyone now wants to get onto her good side because she will be one the most powerful and most influential women in the country soon okay. So, if you give her favourite Bollywood star a datukship, maybe, she will say good things to her husband and then maybe they will get into the good books of her now very powerful husband.
There's soooo many funny things happening to our country now, that I can't seem to write my scripts. Why? How can I compete with real life? It's so dramatic, so comical and so scary.
So to keep within the spirit of this current flux, why not appoint Datuk Shah Rukh Khan as the new FINAS Chairman? I sokong! I too want to get brownie points with the country's most powerful woman.
Friday, October 10, 2008
The AFM is open to the entire film community, including agents, attorneys, bankers, directors, distributors, festival directors, film commissioners, filmmakers, producers, writers, and all those who provide services to the motion picture industry.
Exhibition Agreement - This agreement is to participate as an Exhibitor at the 2008 AFM. The Exhibition Fee of $3,500 includes
up to four (4) Photo Badges at no charge.
No Screening Privileges - To screen films in AFM theatres, the Exhibition Agreement & Office Request Form must have been received by Friday, 13 June. By submitting this agreement after 13 June, Exhibitor acknowledges that it will not have access to AFM Screening Facilities.
Office Price List
IMPORTANT: Refer to the Hotel Floor Plans for location (floors and hotel) of Room Codes. Prices below are in U.S.$ and do not include the $3,500 Exhibition Fee which will be added to the cost of the office.
A 1 Room Regular Office US7,750 (This is the cheapest rooms available to exhibitors. The most expensive costs north of US30,000 per room)
Below are the different types of AFM Badges:
INDUSTRY BADGE - FULL MARKET
- Full Access to all Exhibitor floors and all screenings for the total eight days.
- $795 per person for registrations submitted by 24 October. After 24 October, Full Market Badges are $895 per person
- Register by 17 October and receive 2 free Seminars!
You then have to calculate the cost of air tickets for FINAS execs who attend and their lodging allowances and their meals. And then you can assume the amount of money, FINAS spend to promote Malaysian movies in Los Angeles. (For your information, attending the markets in Europe can be twice as expensive).
For local producers to attend, they would have to buy 'badges' costing US$895 (RM3,200) per person. Let's say hotels in LA are about RM800 per day and you are at the Market for five days - that's RM4,000. You bring an assistant along - that doubles your cost to RM8,000.
So far, the producer's total expenses are RM11,200 just for attending the market. Two return flight tickets to Los Angeles on Malaysian Airlines (I just checked their website) is approximately RM26,000.00. If two executives go, that's RM52,000.
Therefore, the producer is expected to spend at least RM63,000 plus plus to attend the market. That's helluva a lot of money for a producer to fork out.
Even if just one rep goes it's still a minimum of RM32,000 excluding meals and entertainment. That's a lot of money to attend a market which does not guarantee you sales. Just an opportunity.
And the opportunity is? For Malaysian producers to hawk their goods and compete in a market that says proudly:
At the AFM you will... MEET over 400 production companies, SEE over 500 motion pictures, PREVIEW more than 100 world premieres, NETWORK with 8,000 industry professionals, FIND INSPIRATION in 1000s of new projects, LEARN at seminars from 100+ industry leaders, and DISCOVER where the industry will be tomorrow.
If Malaysian producers fail to sell anything, would it justify their expenses? For FINAS, they have nothing to lose. The failure to sell would just mean Malaysian productions are not up to mark. FINAS would say that they have done their best for the Malaysian film industry because they rented a 'booth' at AFM. It is the producers that screwed up. They should have produced better quality products for sale. But never mind, the producers who attended would have gained experience and learnt something.
Hohum...whatever it is, some people are going to have a grand holiday in Los Angeles. At whose expense? I don't know. Do you?
Asian Film Market ends with a whimper
The Asian Film Market sputtered to a dismal halt Monday in Pusan, with many buyers rushing for the airport and sellers left staring into empty corridors.
While numerous explanations were offered for the slump, which came despite an improvement in the facilities, the simple fact was that there were very few deals signed and no standout product or project.
Thursday, October 9, 2008
I won't go into details about how it took me over an hour to locate the new campus in Puncak Alam because I actually thought it was held at my old campus in Shah Alam, but suffice to say I was impressed by the new (4 years old) campus.
The dialog was titled Pengantarabangsaan Filem Malaysia, which was quite a mouthful. For those who has trouble managing Bahasa Malaysia or Bahasa Melayu, it means (roughly) Internationalising Malaysian Films.
Chaired by FACT lecturer and former filmmaker, Dr Mahadi J. Murat, the dialog invited Shuhaimi Baba, Yasmin Ahmad and Khalid Maulud to give their takes on the subject.
Shuhaimi and Yasmin, as most of you would already know are easily the two top female filmmakers in town. Khalid, however, was representing the (usually absent) FINAS DG En Mahyuddin. Khalid's post in FINAS is as the Director of Development.
I am not going to give you a blow by blow detail of the dialog, which was entertaining though ultimately un-noteworthy, but here's a gist of the session.
Some of the industry players attending - including Encik Fuad (3rd from left) from GBSB and Dr Hatta (white shirt on the right)
Khalid also said that FINAS rents booths at various world class film markets regularly to help local producers market their products to global buyers. Next month, for example, they will be in Los Angeles for the America Film Market. Other markets they participate include MIPCOM (in Cannes) and Hongkong Film and TV Market.
However, that's the only thing they do - rent booths. Producers have to fork out their own funds to attend these markets and sell their products. There isn't even a marketing plan to market Malaysian films (most foreign producers and distributors have already set up meetings and promoted their products earlier on - including sending brochures and pre-publicity materials). I assume producers who participate or tag along FINAS's programmes at these markets go there blindly.
But does 'pengantarabangsaan' only means marketing products overseas in hope that buyers buy our products? For example, I believe Yasmin's movies, Shuhaimi's movies, Yu Hang's movies, Amir Muhammad's movies, were all bought up or considered for distribution when they win festivals overseas and not through FINAS's efforts. I also believe that they do not participate in these FINAS global marketing spree.
Does this mean that our current crop of filmmakers, who are making waves overseas, see FINAS as redundant or even unimportant when it comes to pushing their products overseas? They (the indie filmmakers) should have been invited to speak their minds - but then again I always have this feeling that FINAS is a Malay-centric organisation (if you know what I mean) which is why they don't overly support non-main stream producers and filmmakers.
Grand Brilliance head honcho Encik Ahmad Fuad Onah (who is also the new GAFIM President) also gave his input and said that private sector producers like him should not be blamed for not risking producing films that may be well received overseas (especially festivals). Producers like him try to make commercial movies that make money like the latest Senario (which has made nearly RM4 million since its release last week). He has bosses to report to and the only way to make these bosses happy is to make films that sell - and as much as he may want to make quality movies for the world market - he cannot risk that.
He said the government or the authorities responsible should give grants to producers or directors to produce such movies without having to worry about 'pulangan' or returns.
I also had to ask something. So I asked En. Khaled a simple question: "Does FINAS consider any current filmmaker capable of producing world class films?".
He paused and nodded said yes. I asked him to name them. He pointed to Yasmin.
Only one? Never mind. So I asked him, if FINAS, in all its years and experience in knowing what the world needs, has identified Yasmin as someone capable of making world class movies, why not give her grants to make more movies?
In fact, Dr Hatta, also added that such a move would be wise. He suggested selecting 5 directors every year and funding each one RM3 million to make movies 'close to their hears'. He added that this should be a five year project. Such a move will bring Malaysian movies to the forefront of international film scene.
Oh yes, I also asked why FINAS was willing to spend RM30million on a Dolby sound studio when it would take 1000 movies to pay back its investment. He said, this is FINAS's way of helping the local industry by creating world class infrastucture for the industry. FINAS does not see the investment as a profit making venture as it is part of their social duty to do so.
So I told him to use the same argument when financing quality movies. Give funding to selected directors and not worry too much about the box office returns.
He also said that they have already given grants to films and mentioned Shuhaimi's movie 1957 as a movie that had received a special grant. Hmmmmm....I think this is the first time a FINAS official has made known to the public that Shuhaimi's movie was given a special grant. Interesting.
Anyway, I have had enough of listening to conflicting answers and didn't want to spoil the spirit of Raya over a stupid dialogue session, so I allowed to let sleeping dogs lie. Who knows, my postings here could come back to haunt me.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
When such financial crisis occur, two things may happen.
One effect that is quite serious is that funding sources may disappear. The film industry has many 'funding patrons' - both through institutions and private sources. If the financial world crashes, these funding sources would clam up and stop funding the film industry as it is, obviously, an industry that is considered non-essential. Tycoons and millionaires who previously would splash a million here and another million there (for whatever reasons), will suddenly realise that their finances are finite and therefore they cannot support their whims and fancies.
So, when this happens, the film industry will face a funding crunch and will face imminent collapse.
Furthermore, if the country's financial mechanism is also affected, payments to TV producers, who funds TV productions up front (with funding from various sources including Ahlongs and rumoured underworld funding) will find it difficult to sustain a manageable cash flow.
Currently, the average pay back time from most TV stations is between 3-6 months (you'll be lucky to get payment within 2 months). So, any more delay in payments from stations will actually cause producers (especially the small to meidum size companies) to close shop.
FINAS, who have been very quiet and non-assuming in the industry of recent, need to assist the industry - heck, that is their role anyway - to overcome this period of uncertainty.
I heard talk of the Ministry thinking about reviewing the RM50 million revolving fund made available to producers. The talk is that the fund may be turned into a grant instead of a loan.
Whilst this may seem to be heaven sent for local producers, it may also be abused. I somewhat agree to this change of funding status but only for new producers. Those who have borrowed from the fund, SHOULD STILL BE MADE TO PAY, because they went in with eyes wide opened. They cannot hope to let their loans be converted into grants.
Only the new applicants can opt for the grants.
The format of grants should also be different. Its criteria is different and its funding mechanism different. It should be given to productions skewered to certain 'ideals' or 'themes' - be it culture, nationalism, patriotism, tourism etc. However, commercial productions without any social or artistic merit should not be offered the grant. A soft-loan mechanism should still be in place for them.
Another success-based funding system can also be created - meaning if the movie that has been given a soft loan does well overseas (in terms of sales and awards at festivals), the loan could then be given some sort of incentive which could include converting the existing loan into a grant.
However, when the term grant is bandied around, a lot of opportunists will emerge.
All they need is an accountant who can prepare really 'creative accounts' that show the cost of production ballooning, but without showing the money that went out for their brand new mercedes. They also need cronies within the system. So you might still get to see untested producers and fly-by-night production houses receiving million Ringgit grants to produce movies.
The second effect is a more positive effect. Rare but it may happen.
This is that film and TV viewership may actually increase when depression or recession sets in. This is true in India's film-going scenario. Film is an escapist fare. It is still one of the cheapest forms of entertainment (this includes TV and video). Therefore during bad times sets, the need for entertainment, the need for laughter in their homes or in their free time can be paramount. Most would therefore resort to film and TV.
Therefore, in a weird way, films can actually make huge profits if this scenario happens.
In some ways, it is also a chicken and egg situation - you need funds to make movies for people to watch to make profit. You have to produce a movie in order to see if there are people out there willing to pay to watch it and be entertained.
Therefore, producers who are willing to gamble may be rewarded. Maybe.
What I know is that for most Malays, when times are hard, movies that come out of Prof Madya Razak Maidin's Line Clear factory becomes their panacea for bad times.
Now THAT is a scary thought.
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Raya for the Jamil Sulong family has always been 'systematic' (not that we don't like it). On the day before Raya, most of the family members would return to the family retreat in Janda Baik.
My mother has already gone back two days earlier to start preparing for the Raya. I reached the homestead about 3 pm on the eve of Raya, bringing along my father.
My brother would be arriving around 6pm because he had to wait for his youngest daughter from college. His wife and eldest daughter would arrive the next morning.
My sister Murni came with my mother, whilst her family will arrive later today, after attending a dinner at her in-laws.
Once there, me and my dad begin making the ketupat, using (for the first time), ketupat leaves from our own lawn. It is part of the family tradition to learn the ketupat weaving skills. To date, my eldest, Buddy, and my daughter Adylla, has learnt how to weave the ketupat.
My youngest, Iliya, would be busy playing his P2P.
The kitchen would be busy with mother and sister preparing the rendang minang and the kuah lontong. For the first time in many years, my mother is also preparing soto for the first day (usually soto is made for the second day). She's changing the menu because me and my brother would not be around for the second day. My brother, Arjunaidi would be working on the second day (flying to Sydney). Me? I've got nothing arranged but the kids had promised their friends to go out on the second day.Anyway, Raya eve was always a night for the young ones to play their fireworks. Luckily this year, I got hold of some really great ones including some really neat rockets. Fireworks, when properly supervised by adults, can be safe and fun.
On the morning of Raya, the menfolk got up early and went to the kampung mosque. Later in the day, most would drop by my grandmother's grave, to offer her doa's and prayers.
Upon returning home from the mosque, the family would gather and my father would lead the usual Raya doas before our first Syawal meal of the season.
We received many visitors from village and some friends.
But the highlight of the day was when my old best buddy, Prof Madya Dr Wan Fauzi (above), from school dropped by (Iit's been over 20 years since we last met). I appreciated his visit and wish him well for his future. It was great chatting about old days.
To all my friends, relatives, colleagues and fans - Selamat Hari Raya and Maaf Zahir Batin. Eat well, eat good and drive safe. And don't forget to see tonight's episode of Bilik No. 13.