Ever since RTM announced the results of the productions that 'won' the pitching sessions and gave the successful companies the 'surat niat', artistes have been licking their lips in anticipation.
Now, as I finalise my pre-production and casting sessions for my latest series Detik 12 Malam for RTM, I knew some of the artistes who will be the favourites of producers will take the opportunity to demand high salaries.
Of course they have the right to demand high salaries - everything has gone up so they have inflated their fees to something that even the most steely hearted producers cringe.
For example, I need a child actor for one of the episodes entitled Telefon. Good child actors are difficult to cast locally. So I was surprised when the mother demanded RM100 per scene for the child! And there was 20 over scenes! In a two day shoot this little girl will make more than RM2000!
I have never ever paid any actors by the number of scenes in my script. I have paid them by day and or by episodes, never by scenes. Where will this nonsense stop? Will the artistes soon ask payment on the number of words they speak? or the number of shots we take?
Hmmmm..maybe I should pay them for the number of realistic emotions they show on camera - thus not paying them a sen.
Things are made worse when RTM has yet to issue to producers a surat tawaran that states how much they will offer the producers for the production. Not only does this issue hurt the producers' chances of factoring their contracts, it also causes heartburn for producers who are now forced to play the guessing game using last year's rates to budget their productions. We just cross our fingers and hope that RTM will not reduce their payments for the production, citing lack of budgets.
Detik 12 Malam faces a tough time casting their episodes with popular artistes. Not being a serial TV programme (meaning a series that has a continuing story through the episodes), the cost for producing the show is higher. Every episode in D12M is different, offering different stories, artistes, locations and props. This increases the cost of production considerably since we cannot amortise the cost over the 13 episodes.
What is more difficult is that artistes, or rather well known artistes, tend to look down upon this kind of production as they prefer to lock on to longer serials where they can earn more. They hear me saying that it's a four day shoot and they say "Sorry lah Bang takder masa....tapi kalau abang bayar RM4000 boleh kot I fit into my schedule."
On the bright side, I get to now cast new faces. Especially to those who showed potential during the recent audition I had. I only hope RTM understands my predicament. Even the artistes they told me to cast have rejected or ignored our offers - and these are NEW artistes who participated in their reality programme Pilih Kasih.
So, to my actor and actress friends out there who have agreed readily to be part of D12M, thank you. To the new actors and actresses who have also agreed, welcome to this whacky world. To those who rejected, it's really your loss.