No I am not going to break out into the Abba song hit. Yesterday, in Finas, the Malaysian's Film Directors' Association (FDAM) organised a talk with SME Bank and FINAS about the funding available from the SPFC (Skim Pinjaman Filem Cereka or the Feature Film Loan Scheme).
This fund has been in existence for sometime now and they have basically doled out RM35 million of a RM50 million fund to help producers fund their feature films.
The turn out was surprising big with many new producers present.
You can find out more about the scheme from FINAS's website at www.finas.gov.my.
I personally disagree to many of the scheme's process of giving out the money. But it is nevertheless commendable allowing a loan to be given without collateral but with only director's personal guarantee and available twice in a company's lifespan.
The maximum available for each application is RM1.5 million.
However, at the discourse yesterday, a few producers conplained about aspects of the loan that I did not know about.
One particular person was this non-Malay producer whose approval was given by Finas. She said she was surprised that though Finas has approved her application in which she cited she was to direct the movie, the loan committee demanded that she instead select a director who has previously made a movie that has collected more than RM1.5 million in box office takings.
I find this particularly unfair to young first time directors or directors who make good movies that do not overwhelmed the box office statistics.
Instead of fighting for her right to direct her first movie, she kowtowed to this stupid 'rule' and has appointed Pierre Andre to direct her movie so that she can just begin production.
Another producer also pointed another clause that I did not know of (I do not know much of the approval clauses because I haven't applied nor receive any financial aids from the SPFC scheme).
This producer mentioned that it is quite exasperating that he has to be charged RM250 for every change he makes on the script that was approved. These include location and artistes.
I really don't know the justification behind this clause but to me it's just a stupid one.
These people don't realise that production is very much a dynamic entity - things do change - including sets, locations, people involved including artistes.
What the bank told him was that he needs to write in for dispensation citing reasons for the change to avoid being charged for the changes that occur.
I am now thinking twice about applying for the fund. A fund that is approved by a bunch of people who has receives no repercussion (except maybe the bank) if the project or people they approve make movies that either don't sell or of questionable quality.
As for me, I just gave Finas a piece of my mind because to me they are acting very much like ah longs - ready to give money to desperate producers but not doing anything else to help the final product succeed. Once the film fails, they just want the money back. However, what they fail to do was that they do not help these producers to promote local films domestically - no events like Jom Heboh!, no aggressive marketing strategy to help local movies get noticed by the film going public and such. Yet they spend hundreds of thousands, maybe millions a year attending markets and festivals around the world - Berlin, Las Vegas, Cannes, Hongkong and other other festival they deem important enough to secure potential markets for Malaysian movies. Yeah right. Whilst chasing rainbows, they allow their own products to die in their own backyard.