I had an interesting conversation with some people that I will not mention who they are, but three of them were FINAS Board Members. Another was a senior Information, Communication and Culture Ministry official.
We were just talking about making movies.
The FINAS board member was telling the top Ministry official that he has perfected the formula for making movies locally. He proudly informed nus that from first day of shoot until printing the film's A Print, it took him only 27 days! He then said that if other producers cannot do the same, they should not be in ther business.
He said with this new formula, he plans to produce one movie per month. And this is a member of our FINAS Board.
Now, the Ministry official seemed quite taken aback by this guys' strategy and seemed quite interested in what he had to say.
The Ministry official then also said that he saw in some documentaries that US filmmakers are shooting feature films using HD camcorders. I tried to explain to him that they were many levels of HD technology but he said if these guys can make movies using cheap HD cameras, why can't we? I decided not to waste my time trying to explain to him the difference between consumer HD equipment and professional HD equipment.
I mean, his Ministry just spent RM50 million dollars in a sound studio in FINAS, and yet he is telling us that we should use low end HD cameras for producing feature films.
I then tried to tell him that FINAS or the Ministry should look into helping senior filmmakers like Rahim Razali, Mahadi Murat and myself, who have ideas and still have the creative energy to make good movies for the international festival market. I told him local producers and FINAS only seem to be interested in funding young talents.
Guess what he said. He thinks if the older filmmakers cannot make films that the current film viewers want to watch, they shouldn't be making films. If the younger film makers are making more commercial films that are viable, then they are the right people to boost local film industry.
He said he knew what he was talking about because ALL his degrees were in marketing and he considers himself a marketing expert, and that filmmakers should know how to market their films. According to him, good marketing can even make a lousy film successful. Film is ALL marketing, he said. So put more emphasis on market our ideas and films. That's the key to improving our industry.
I sat there dumbfounded. I am surrounded by people who are in a position to make a difference in the film industry and yet what I am listening scares the shit out of me.
In the end, I was told something that really took my breath away.
Young director Ahmad Idham, director of such classics like Jangan Tegur, Congkak, Jangan Pandang Belakang, Jangan Pandang Belakang Congkak, Brainscan and Syurga Cinta, have been given a seat in FINAS's boardroom. So now, Metrowealth has two representatives in FINAS's board - producer David Teoh and his current favourite director Ahmad Idham.
After hearing that, I returned to my hotel like one of the characters in Mamat Khalid's zombie movie - feeling completely dead inside and walking aimlessly without a brain within the film industry.
What else can you say when this happens?