(I wrote about the persatuans about two years ago)
During out shoot recently, the authorities came for a visit. To check on my crew and staff and artistes. They actually checked our membership status to the four main persatuans that Finas endorses – SENIMAN, Profima, FDAM and Karyawan. Of course there are others, but these are those that are usually on set. SENIMAN is basically for actors, as is Karyawan but anyone can actually be a member. Profima was previously Persatuan Pekerja Pekerja Filem Malaysia (PPFM) but because their acronym clashes with Persatuan Penerbit Filem Malaysia (PFM), they decided to change it to Professional Film Workers of Malaysia or something like that.
Anyway, to produce anything in this country, you must be a member of one of these associations (persatuans). Legally I’m not sure how secure this is. I was once a Union member as a journalist and I know how that works but in the chaotic world of filmmaking, could Finas actually enforce such a ruling if it is legal.
I’ve actually asked a lawyer friend and he said that at most the requirements are just advisory but not mandatory. Why? Because one can question the standards of each persatuan and what they offer to the industry. There is no pre-qualification like the architects or engineers.
The persatuans within the film industry are merely a social association working with the framework of the Rules and Regulations as set our in the Registrar of Societies.
If persatuans are that powerful, every industry would have to bow to the thousands of associations out there. Kesatuans are different as are associations of professionals i.e. architects, engineers, contractors, builders and such. There are various bodies and authorities and agencies that monitor the standards of their work.
Anyway, back to my location shoot. Half of my crew were not Profima members. And at that moment, we were shooting a scene that was supposed to be Australia in winter. And to make that scene authentic, we need kweilohs. So we got a casting agency to get some kweilohs for extras.
Hahhaha...we forgot to mention to our agent that we need kweilohs who are members of Seniman!
Jeez..how can we forget that!! We also needed special permission to use foreigners in that scene. Fuhhh lagi problem. Luckily for us we just got a memo and a warning – for using kweilohs who are not Malaysians and non-Seniman members, for hiring crew members that were not members of Profima.
WTF do I need to hire someone from an association that these people don’t believe in? I know so many who pay subscription fees just to work in the industry and they really don’t care what the association does or doesn’t do. It’s like a toll to work. Sounds familiar tak? You want to work in the industry? Sure, pay your membership fee. Annually. Then you can work to your hearts content.
What kind of mentality or industry that accept this kind of situation?
Are we going to be bullied into doing this? What do we (the producers) get out of hiring bonafide members? Are members truly qualified to work as a gaffer? A bestboy? A clapper loader? A key grip? A production manager or assistant director? Is there a guarantee of their performance and quality of work? None right? They are just Malaysians who decide one day to “Hey I think I can earn some decent money working on a technical crew of a TV or film production”, and all I need to do is join Profima. That’s it. Nothing to it. So why do you want to blame me for using some crew member whom I know have worked for years in the industry and is more professional and proficient in his work as a tech crew but did not join Profima?
What is it that these associations including Profima or FDAM done for the industry lately? From newspaper reports Profima just organised an awards ceremony that not many people knew about or was invited to participate or attend. What’s more mind boggling was that one newspaper even mentioned that the event cost more than RM3 million to stage!
Wow! How the association exco members or its normal members ever approved such a budget is beyond me. If you read the articles of the Societies Act Section carefully, I’m really not sure how many of the associations can survive scrutiny. Isn’t there any member out there who doesn’t want to find out how Profima spent money for the event? Don’t they care what happens to the society’s funds?
Don’t the members know that they as members have the legal right to check the books of their association at any point of time (reasonable hours or working hours)?
Anyway, if these associations that Finas holds high esteem for are maybe entities that are not managed properly, how can they be pillars of professionalism in the industry? So why bother?
I think it is about time Finas steps it foot down and demand a complete and detailed review of all the associations in the industry. Check their accounts, see if it is audited. If they do not want to show it to Finas, get a members to compel them through the Registrar to allow them to check their administrative procedures and their accounts. Hire a lawyer to review all the associations constitutions – trust me – the constitutions of these association are at best a sheet of rules and regulations that cannot stand the test of law.
If the associations want to be considered a powerful and the pillars of the industry, be above board, be clean, be exemplary and above all be incorruptible.
Do all this and I will guarantee that you will see the members become more proactive in the management and administration of the societies. And as a producer, we will be more than glad to support and cooperate with these entities.