Hmmmmm….if he is the official representative of FINAS, his comments would also represent the official stand of FINAS right?
Well, you see, it was the final Question and Answer session before the end of the seminar, when I stood up to comment and query the FINAS representative’s earlier presentation and comments made as a member of the final panel.
I asked:” Why is FINAS so interested in trying to market our films overseas, spending hundreds of thousands of ringgit flying all over the world, when they should help market Malaysian finals back home first, or maybe even regionally first.”
I continued: “In Indonesia, Thailand, Korea, and with the exception of Singapore, most movies hope to make back their money domestically first. Marketing their film overseas is a bonus – if it happens.
“You don’t make a film (at least in Asia) with the hope of making a profit from overseas sales without first wanting to make a profit back home. So what I am suggesting is for FINAS to seriously look to help develop, market and promote Malaysian movies domestically, and for the time being spend less in promoting our films overseas. I wasn’t sure why such a request would irk FINAS.
I also said: “Right now there is an average of 300,000 regular viewers and supporters of Malay movies or Malaysian movies, there should concentrate on how to increase this number of people viewing local movies.”
The FINAS representative immediately replied that I sounded like a broken record.
“I don’t know where Anwardi got this figure of 300,000 from. I want to know if Anwardi has got the addresses and phone numbers of these people or not. If what Anwardi say is true, can he explain how come two years ago, ticket sales was 3 million and last year it went up to over 5.29 million? Where does Anwardi get his numbers?”
“As for us going to festivals overseas, we don’t do it because we want to. We do it at the request of the industry. It is the associations that ask us to organize these trips to markets overseas. We listen to the associations and industry, WE DON’T LISTEN TO THE OPINION OF AN INDIVIDUAL!”
Unfortunately, the panel chairman stopped the beginning of a very interesting debate because I would actually gone on to thank the FINAS rep for proving my figure with his statement.
Firstly, the number 300,000 is not something that I pulled out of a hat. The number is the figure mentioned by the President of the Film Producer’s Association, Encik Ahmad Fuad Onah, in a previous seminar held in FINAS.
Anyway, the figure the FINAS representative mentioned was for the annual ticket sales. Let’s take his biggest number, the 5 million ticket sales last year. He actually proved that Ahmad Fuad’s statement was not accurate but in fact the PPFM’s President’s figure was actually quite generous. The number was LESS!!
Last year, according to FINAS’s website, 25 films were screened. And yes, 5.29 million tickets were sold. This means that an average of just over 200,000 tickets were sold per movie. Not 300,000 as what Ahmad Fuad Onah and I believed it to be. The number is actually quite smaller. In fact, in FINAS’s website, it states under the 2008 statistics column: ‘purata jumlah penonton - 212,000.” (Average viewership per film is 212,000 viewers).
Yes, he was right when he said more 5 million tickets were sold. However, this does not mean that there are 5 million Malay movie fans out there. It was, and FINAS’s website confirms it, an average of 212,000 viewers per movie.
That’s what FINAS statistics says. Not Ahmad Fuad’s. Nor mine. And therefore, if we had only ONE movie screened last year, and the ticket sales for the same year is 5.29 million, yes, I would agree that there is probably more than 5 million viewers that watch local movies,
Now, as for the industry wanting FINAS to find international markets for their movies and FINAS listening to these wishes by the industry (associations), let me try and make some sense of this statement.
For one, the industry has asked for many, many things from FINAS, but NOT ALL were granted. Which is fine. We cannot be and we should not be spoon fed or even fully subsidised by the government. But how come this particular request was given due recognition?
Does FINAS think there are billions of Ringgit waiting for Malaysian movies out there? Are there distributors and cinema owners in Europe and the Americas that are dying to screen Malaysian movies? Doesn’t FINAS give advice to the industry when they make unrealistic demands? Why doesn’t FINAS tell the industry, “Hey guys, why don’t you buck up locally first? Why don’t we try to promote locally produced movies amongst non-Malays? That’s a huge market waiting to be tapped IN MALAYSIA!”
But fine, let’s say that FINAS always acquiesce to industry’s demands and, as the FINAS rep says, they listen to the industry. Well. if the industry wants FINAS to start a national cinema chain (which they have asked for for the past decade) why haven’t they done so? Maybe because such endeavours doesn’t entail any overseas trips?
Anyway, my ramblings in my blog or at workshops and seminars will not make any difference right? Of course not. According to him, FINAS doesn’t listen to the individual’s opinions. We, filmmakers, who always consider ourselves as individuals first and everything else second, are nothing. FINAS only listens to the industry. Not the industry players'. Not individuals'.
I had better stop. I am beginning to sound like a broken record.
(Endnote: Another participant at the seminar told me: “Di, if you sound like a broken record, what does FINAS sound like? Hmmmmmm.)