Where’s the Cavalry When We Need Them?

TIFAF Director’s Salon for Upcoming Talents

Where’s The Sincerity?

When MyCreative announced a grant as part of it’s initiative to help reboot the film industry, I was elated to see a quasi government body finally doing something to help small production houses and projects to at least make the first steps towards producing a film.

We went to the website to check out the forms and requirements. Obviously, to my personal disappointment, this programme is geared towards industry insiders; if you have no prior relationships with the industry, it’ll be hard for you to even try to apply for the grant.

One of the hurdles, is the FINAS license. If the grant is geared towards young filmmakers, this is a great barrier, I asked what if the filmmaker has no license. The gentleman nicely told me they will pair a company with a license to work on the project.

Smells fishy? I thought so too.

I see this a a lukewarm attempt to show the public that the authorities are working on something, but nothing can be done because the applicants don’t “qualify”.

While in China, I am on the advisory board of the Teoswa International Film Arts Festival where we help new talents grow their popularity and possibly produce their own films.

And being the faculty head of a Television and Broadcast Department at a local university there gives me some leverage in getting help and sponsors from the local businesses.

Together with the school, and help from my friends in the industry, we have funded over 90 film projects, long and short form totaling almost RMB 500 thousand with no foreseeable returns in the future.

Why have I done what I have done? I genuinely wanted these young talents to succeed.

All I needed, was a screenplay and an idea, if I think we can do it, we do it. It was simple as that. And I didn’t have 200 million sitting in the bank waiting to be invested.

Imagine I had that kind of money.

Ryan Wen will make his first theatrical debut this year as a film director.

What’s with the Process?

MyCreative wants us to submit story ideas, mood boards, even test shots (if I am already shooting my film, do I need the money from them?) For them, the chicken must come before the eggs. The process is flawed, and it’s very, very inefficient.

It takes them months to process the documents, and they will get back and ask for more documents. I understand paper pushers love paperworks, filmmakers prefer working on actual creative works.

Which brings me to the next point.

What’s the Point?

There is no point in doing this. Those with FINAS license should already be covered by the nation’s film development board’s budget. MyCreative should be there to help discover new talents, talents that one day may become a member of the industry. There is no point in having us run around doing all kinds of paperwork.

During the COVID-19 lockdown, people like me have no choice but to stay back in Malaysia, we do our best to do what we do best and try help the local industry. I attempted to apply for the grant to see how it’s like. And if a veteran like me have problems getting anywhere with the merry-go-round of the paperpushers. I wonder how can new talents get anywhere.

A Trust Issue?

I cannot help but notice other industry veterans who are not-so-well connected and they complain about not trusting all these initiatives that take your ideas and run. Frankly if they could take any of the ideas and run, that may mean these ideas are actually good enough to run.

We have a huge gap between the creatives and the money people. The middlemen are roadblocks, how do we go direct? Do we need a revolution in the industry to effect change?

That’s a thought that has been burning in my mind for quite some time.

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