Yesterday's budget by the Prime Minister made filmmakers, advertising executives, content producers, musicians and animators drooling with anticipation. An RM200 million fund has been mentioned available to boost our content industry.
Whilst the details are not yet clear, the PM said that the fund will be managed and channeled through Bank Simpanan Nasional. This is a surprise as previously, most of the funds for filmmaking, were channeled through the SME Bank and the Bank Pembangunan.
There was also mentioned that the funds would have an easier mechanism for those applying for it.
So we wait with baited breath again for the fund to be clarified and materialize.
I remember still many months back, an announcement of an RM15 million fund to be created for filmmakers, specifically for those who want to produce patriotic, historical and cultural themed movies. When this was announced, new wannabe producers with political 'connections' suddenly appeared with new production companies proposing movies based on Hang Tuah, Mat Kilau and many other historical 'icons'. Til to date, nothing has materialised.
No FINAS official is willing to confirm the existence of such a fund. Some however said that they are still studying the creation of the fund. Some just said wait and see whilst a few actually told me, they were just waiting for the money to appear.
Meanwhile, savvy producers who knew people who knew other people, managed to find funding from other sources - especially from MDEC and MOSTI. These two institutions, it seems are more than willing to fund heavy visual effects laden movies to the tune of millions.
I won't mention which producers had received some of this rumoured funding and neither will I identify what movies were made from these funds, but what I can tell you is that these movies were not successful at the box office, to say the least. But what do the producers care, the funds they received, it is rumored, were actually grants or what we in the industry like to refer to as 'free money'. This means box office returns doesn't mean a thing to them.
Meanwhile, other serious producers await for more funding to be made available. Uwei Haji Shaari, one of the more well known Malaysian filmmakers in the global stage, actually found funding (not from FINAS) and is prepping his latest movie - AFTER more than ten years of struggling. I wish him well. I only wished that he should have found his funding much much earlier.
Nevertheless, on a positive note, we as filmmakers can just sit and hope that now with the RM200 million fund created, we will see the quality, and not quantity, of our local films improve by leaps and bounds.