Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Personally, 2010 leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth. My trials and tribulations in the film and TV business was the worse I have ever experienced in my life.
What's also strange was that some of my peers and colleagues in the industry had a worse time than me. I know of many producers and directors who went through the whole year without any jobs at all. How they manage is beyond me.
What's stranger still, is that production in KL seems to be booming! How do I know? Well, ask any top actor or actress if they are available for shoot, and they will more than not say they are fully booked.
In my current work for example, for a friend's company, we have had to replace three of the top cast members because of scheduling problems. There was no way for us to wait or work our production around their existing schedules.
Even some of the cast that we took on, they are already shooting with other productions. Nevertheless due to various reasons, we could still take them on and shoot around their existing jobs.
Looking at the situation, maybe I should have been an actor instead of being a producer.
We producers take a lot of crap from everyone. We have to look for funds, pitch for jobs, round up a team that we hope would deliver, face annoying TV executives and when all that is over, we have to wait for the payment. As actors or technical crew they get paid up front, progressive and at the end of production. Once finish, they hop on to the next project.
A leading actor for example, may request from a producer as high as RM3k per episode and if there's 13 episodes, he gets a clean RM39,000 pay for one and half month's work.
That's not bad isn't it?
A top scriptwriter too can earn as much as that if he is in demand. RM30-39k for 13 one hour episodes and most maddening is that most of these writers, who churn out melodrama, are usually not required to do any research at all. They just sit in their offices or their homes in front of their laptops or PCs and churn out about 500 pages for the producer.
Why or why I gatal nak jadi producer?
Anyway, if things don't change, there is a likelihood that I might just give up this business once again. The Malays would say "tak berbaloi" (doesn't make monetary sense). Strangely, I disagree. I think the business can be berbaloi - emotionally, financially and creatively - if the industry is a level playing field.
Unfortunately, this business is not based on merit. It is a business dealing in flash and glamour and it is a business built on pizazz. If you can make certain people in the business think you can deliver, even with zero experience, then you've got it made.
Let's see what the new year brings us all.
So goodbye 2010. Hello 2011.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


I just returned from a week-long trip to Sarawak to produce a documentary on SCORE (Sarawak Corridor For Renewable Energy)...and so was too busy to update anything since internet during the journey between Bintulu to Sarikei and Sibu and Mukah was difficult though not impossible.
Anyway, coming home I was hit with a barrage of events that should have shook the industry. Firstly I feel sad that the targets set by a certain producer for his film was not achieved. He was so confident of getting RM40 million in box office tickets sales for his maiden feature film, but alas, his ticket sales, from what I heard did not even hit the RM400,000 mark.
My dear friend's Estet, a movie that I thought is much better than most of the crap that are being produced locally, too did not make a dent at the box office. To date, it has collected less than half a million in ticket sales. Why oh why didn't the people turn up. Why oh why didn't FINAS help a film that is worth promoting to the public?
Whilst ESTET was going South, another crappy horror movie Nangkung, was making big bucks hitting RM6million since its release. It is still going strong and might even affect Mamat's latest directorial effort Rumah Mak Limah which begins its run today. I wish both Mamat and Gayathri the best of luck.
Meanwhile I haven't checked how well TU's first foray into producing a Tamil movie fared. Appalam, their Tamil remake of Adflin's award winning Papadom began its run a couple of weeks back.
But on the 1st of December two things of note happened. One TV Al Hijrah, Malaysia's first Islamic free-to-air TV station was officially launched. On what channel? I don't know. Read the newspaper reports lah...because you need a normal TV antenna to tune in to the channel (which I don't have). Hopefully, Astro will agree to carry the channel, so that the 3 million households who don't use TV aerials can view the channel.
The second thing of note, however, took the film industry by surprise. On this date, FINAS stopped the practice of rebating the entertainment tax for all local feature films to the producers.
This is startling news for producers as it can be a huge amount. For example, Nangkung who according to some statistics has received RM6 million in ticket sales, will be paying RM1.2 million in entertainment tax from the takings. Before 1st December 2010, this tax would have been rebated to the producer. Now it will not be rebated.
So producers are just wondering, what they hell do they need FINAS for? Right now, they line up to register with FINAS for dates because they want the rebates. Those who don't follow this procedure are not entitled to the rebates.
Since the rebates doesn't exist anymore, getting screening dates through FINAS is redundant because distribution companies can now get the best dates for their films directly from the cinema owners.
Meanwhile, the Film Producers' Association has remained silent on this issue much to the chagrin of its members.
We live in interesting but tough times.