Datuk Kamil Othman meeting the media yesterday.
29 Jan – National Film Development Corporation (FINAS) yesterday held a meet the media session, led by FINAS Director-General Datuk Kamil Othman, at Auditorium Pitching Centre, Platinum Sentral.
The Director-General reiterated how the Compulsory Screening Scheme (Skim Wajib Tayang) will be implemented come July 2016 – with its second committee, which was a collective notion by FINAS, Malaysian Association of Film Exhibitors (MAFE) and Malaysia Film Producers Association (PFM) – as well as what may also be included in the revised Skim Wajib Tayang.
2015 initiatives by FINAS for the local film industry
"In 2015, FINAS underwent a restructuring process, we aim to change FINAS' functions or improve on its current functions," said Datuk Kamil Othman.
The Director-General is referring to the achievements FINAS has realised for the past year. One of the most notable being how local movies are now being marketed outside of the country. Previously, FINAS may have brought local companies to France and other countries, but that was all the effort provided. It has since been changed to a more on-hand participation whereby everything will be prepared beforehand, as in the producers will now know who are the partners they are to discuss with and which distributors bring local movies to overseas. FINAS has arranged with buyers and exhibitors in other countries, everything is now organised accordingly. This brings a lot of benefit to the filmmakers here as they no longer need to find buyers or any exhibitors that will pick up their works. However, FINAS is not growing a spoon fed nation as it will still take an initiative from the producers themselves to approach said buyers.
Also, local movies now have a higher chance of being sent to international festival. Using "Redha" as an example, the movie was shot locally using local methods. However, a film expert from France, whose line of work includes picking which movies are suitable to be sent to international film festivals across Europe, was later brought in to review it. After several editing and rearrangements, the movie is now deemed of a standard that is worthy to be submitted to the Berlinale. This was something that had never happened before and is as an improvement to the local movie industry.
Grading system for local movies
FINAS is currently looking into the option of grading locally made movies. The Director-General reveals that this is still at the planning stage. If it were to be given the green light, local movies that go through Skim Wajib Tayang for first a 'pass' or 'fail' evaluation will further be given a grade if the movies receive a 'pass'.
Divided into three – A,B and C, any movies that are graded A will be eligible for 60- to 80-screen plus more suitable times for screening, i.e. during peak hours or days when there are more patrons at the cinemas.
Grade B movies will be slightly less advantages, with around 40 screens and above, while Grade C will receive the least advantages and least screen, possibly with a minimum of 20 screens nationwide.
The criteria that these movies need to meet in order to be graded are yet to be determined. However, Datuk Kamil Othman did provide several examples, including whether the movie is suitable for everyone in the society and whether it portrays patriotic values.
The Director-General said that the grading system is an idea borrowed from neighbouring country, the Philippines, where grades are also applied to the country's movies. Though both are dependent on the marketability of the submitted movies, the distinct difference in our system and theirs is their grading is related to tax whereas ours is not.
Skim Wajib Tayang's first committee will include industry key people such as distributors and exhibitors while the second committee will be made up of a public jury, including, but not limited to, the media, moviegoers and lecturers.
Alternative screening / distribution of movies not under Skim Wajib Tayang
All is not lost for movies that fail to pass Skim Wajib Tayang as FINAS will also be more active in helping them find alternative screening or distribution. As was mentioned by the Director-General in a previous session with the media, producers or filmmakers always have the option of going through other channels instead of aiming only to be screened in cinemas. Though if adamant, they can still try approaching the distributors straight, without going through Skim Wajib Tayang. Failing that, they can still distribute their works either via discs or streaming options.
Another method that seems to be gaining popularity is the "wayang pacak" method, where instead of screening their movies in the cinemas, the producers and filmmakers can opt to erect temporary screens on a field, for example, and charge the customers for every screening, thus eliminating the need of dividing their profit with middlemen such as distributors and exhibitors.
FINAS is also attempting to acquire more screenings for indie or smaller movies. Using "Jagat" as an example, Datuk Kamil Othman said that the movie was a good locally-made movie that does attract interests, which may not be nationwide, but still generates enough to permit it more than the number of screenings it was given. He aims to help movies such as this, which may not have the star power of bigger movies – be it local or Hollywood competitors, to be given a designated location for their screening. This way, they do not clash with bigger movies' times and do not have to fight tooth and nail just to gain and retain an audience.
Film School in Perak is not by FINAS
The community had been abuzz lately with the news of a FINAS film academy to be built soon in Perak. Datuk Kamil Othman has, however, shot down the claims. While a film-related academy is planned to be built in Perak, it is not FINAS-owned and in actuality is set to be a stunt academy. The idea was proposed by an association in Perak to FINAS Chairman Datuk Mohd Khusairi Abdul Talib but will not be related to FINAS in any way.
(Photo source: FINAS Malaysia's Facebook)
Cinema Online, 29 January 2016