Another year comes to an end.
2009 will become another calendar thrown into the dustbins of history.
For most producers, 2009 was a year to forget. Another annus horriblis.
It was the year that RTM pursued its flawed pitching/tender policies which destroyed many independent producers who suddenly found themselves with possible billings of less than a quarter million for the year. They floundered, they closed shop. Yet, companies like Gamma Taktik flourished whilst quality producers died by the wayside. And there seem to be no respite.
A few months back, another pitching session was called by RTM. Apart from the few Chinese New Year programmes that were offered to Chinese producers, Malay producers enter the new year wondering when they will get the call from RTM. Wondering if any of their ideas or proposals will be lucky enough to be accepted by RTM.
However, some producers were lucky as they can approach Astro and TV3. But these are far and few as each station has their own commissioning system and policies.
TV3's Primeworks, however, is aiming to become the country's number one content developer and this will be in direct competition with independant producers who do not have the financial and logistical clout that Primeworks (which has production company Grand Brilliance in their panel) has.
Astro is the best bet for innovative and creative producers.
Now with the new Malay channels, Astro is seeking to produce top quality content for local viewers. Their intent is clearly shown when they commissioned high quality mini-series from local producers for their Suatu Ketika slot. These 8-hour miniseries has been a boon to producers who have been lamenting with the miniscule budgets that other station offers.
Whilst not all producers are offered the chance to produce Suatu Ketika titles, those who have been given the opportunity eagerly went to produce some of the best local TV productions ever seen in recent years. This include titles like Rosly Dhobi, 10, Senoi Praaq and Korban 44.
There is talk that the project will be continued and that factual based stories like Botak Chin, Sybil Kartigesu, Tun Fatimah and the Selangor Civil War of 1870 will be produced by various invited producers and directors.
This bodes well for producers and directors with vision.
Meanwhile, in the feature film scene, not many memorable movies were produced and screened these year. Just trying to remember some of the titles that made it to the cinema would be a tough enough task. For those who can remember the following are some of the titles screened in 2009.
Scenario The Movie, Tsifu Tonga, Jin Notti, Jalang, Geng, Talentime, Papadom, Jangan Tegur, Bohsia, Sayang, My Spy, Wayang, Jin Hutan, Rasukan Ablasa, Maut, Santau, Lembing Awang Pulang ke Dayang, Sell Out, Karaoke, Sayang You Can Dance, Syurga Cinta, Skrip 7707, Setem, Jangan pandang Belakang Congkak, Pisau Cukur, Momok The Movie, Pulau Asmara and Muallaf.
Lowest box office performer goes to Pulau Asmara which according to FINAS website only garnered RM20,000 after one week's screening. Not sure if it could overtake Lembing Awang's RM90,000 box office take.
Biggest earner was of course the animated Geng which took in a whopping RM6.2 million beating the surprisingly popular Jangan Pandang Belakang Congkak which raked in RM6.1 million. However, the latter was more profitable since it only cost about RM1.5 million to produce unlike Geng which costs RM4 million. If these figures (acquired from FINAS's website) are true, it means Geng did not make a profit because the cinemas' take of 50% of total box office would have made its gross profit at only RM3.1 million which means that it is still RM900,000 in the black.
What is in store for 2010? More of the same unfortunately. Here are some of the titles lilsted:
Misteri Dendam Balan-balan, Estet, Shhhh Dia Datang, Janin, Eeeee Hantu, Kantoi, Duhai Si Pari Pari, Gentayangan, Lu Fikirlah Sendiri De Movie, Kapoww!!! Sereemmm! Jibam The Movie, Kecoh Betui and Syirik.
Sad isn't it? Any particular titles that catches your attention or fancy? Any of the above titles that cries out : Yes This Is The Movie That Malaysians Can Be Proud Of? Nope. None.
So I guess the mediocrity of 2009 will definitely flow into 2010 where we will be fed with more jaded horror movies and slapstick comedy. Imagine - most of the movies listed above were approved by FINAS and SME under the film loan scheme. As it is, there was a big hoohah over failed servicing of the loans on titles that failed at the box office. I guess more titles will join the queue of movies not getting enough at the box office to pay back the FINAS loans.
Once again, just by looking at most of the titles, how in the hell did these titles get approved and received loans by FINAS? Jibam The Movie? Kantoi? Kecuh Betui?
Maybe I should submit a comedy skrip called FINAS the Movie....maybe by just telling the nation the whole truth about FINAS, it'll be the comedy film of the year. Yes, true, actual fact is stranger and funnier than fiction.