Thursday, September 15, 2016

Feverish Wanking About Malaysian Films

I still have a bit of the flu and just went through 7 hours at the hospital. I wanted to sleep, but I keep getting these emails and messages so after replying to some in bed, I got up, ready to answer any more... and then finding no emails whatsoever.

So, I decided to write this shit I talked with a friend the last few weeks. These are mostly his ideas and I am merely regurgitating what I heard.

So anyway, I see the film industry as three separate components - the administration, the filmmakers and the audience.

In order for the industry or the shit to move forward, a few things will or need to happen.

The Administration 

The best thing for administration is to use the tax dollars gleaned from foreign movies to be used for the betterment of the industry. This money MUST NOT be used to make films, but to set up workshops, seminars, to send our filmmakers to festivals and other industries to learn from the best.

What are the best or better labour models employed by other, more mature industries? What are the tried and tested marketing protocols? What constitutes good films? What films are desireable to outside markets or scenes - either for prestige, marketability or both?

The taxes from foreign films must not be used to fund more productions, because that can lead to corruption. Actually, everything can lead to more corruption but there is less attraction for conmen when these programmes are the type that would interest hardcore and/or real filmmakers. Imagine the DOP for some of Korea's best films giving a workshop, or that Inarittu guy's team's camera team.

Or practical effects dudes in the States or Europe or Japan. Those kind of visits, talks to instill a real transfer of skills, knowledge and film appreciation amongst filmmakers.

Filmmakers lament a dearth of quality producers. Why not send them for training? Both in execution, marketing, etc.

It's not a exactly novel idea. Korea's film industry did it. I don't know how they did it, exactly, but they did it by nurturing this spirit of filmmaking. Lots of producers here nowadays don't even want to make films. They just want to make money, film be damned.

So the idea for this first stage is to expose the filmmaking community to best practices and connect them with what works in the outside world, in order for the industry to claw itself out of this stupid hole we are in.

Also, the funds from the taxes of foreign films should be spent on developing scripts. Stories and scripts and things with molecular structure and this is my boomstick. It shouldn't be too expensive and scriptwriters would also have to be honest and transparent with this shit.

Because once you corrupt one thing, the whole system collapses.

The Films

Next is adapting the films into two workable business models.

1. Tent-pole releases

These are for the Polis Evos and Ola Bolas and epics and whatever. Their promotional budget must be equal to their production budget and represent those movies that can make bank in the first two weekends by opening in all what, 70? 90 screens? All over Malaysia.

The promotion must begin even during pre-production. Trailers must be released months or even years before the damned thing is completed. If you can generate a sense of ownership among audiences along the way, that is even better for the bottom line and might help with some critics when it is out.

2. Limited-release indies

These films should open in fewer cinemas, but shown there longer - at least 6 weeks or so. Because they would benefit from positive word of mouth and audience numbers would, ideally, snowball.

The approach is like doing a theatrical performance - a stageplay. That's the model. If funds from this model is limited, then perhaps don't put so much expectations on it, financially.

In Indonesia, some small time studios rent out the cinema halls themselves and sell the tickets on their own. Those people believe in their product and are brave enough to put their money where their art is. Some enjoyed moderate, if limited success. Others failed, probably. But the effort and the idea is there.

There is a viable secondary market out there but in all honesty, there is no guarantee in any business. Anyone who seeks guarantees in businesses is an idiot and anyone who gives guarantees is a conman.

The Audience

And the audience can make their own minds and their own choices.