Sheih on Sheih: Kelantan – The Engine Room for Malaysian Media Industry
Posted on March 29, 2007
When my movie, Persona Non Grata was screened nationwide last year, my biggest regret was that it never has it chance in Kelantan. My family and friends who eagerly followed my career from there will not be able to be part of the climax in my moviemaking career.
As ironic as the former Odeon in Kelantan became the UMNO building, it shall be equally weird to imagine that the land without big screen will be the engine room for Malaysia moviemaking business.
Dato’ Husam Musa could make all the different. With his commitment, nothing will be impossible.
Local producer are now facing uncertainty regarding the future of the Malaysian video and film industry. For the past few months, everybody has been very busy with new projects. They are biting more than they can chew. They have to do that because the inflation rate and the commission that they have to pay for the middle parties have eaten up to almost 40% of their overall cost.
The sudden surge in the amount of projects commissioned by various broadcasters especially RTM had something to do with the coming general election. Government and Media Prima are spending on whole lots of new TV program for the election. Hundred millions of ringgit was spent. Some 20% of it will definitely goes back to UMNO for their election machinery. Another 20% will goes directly to certain individuals who will privately finance certain candidate from UMNO.
Another factor of this sudden surge of projects is the feel good economic and the trillion-ringgit phenomenon. Nevertheless, some veteran producers are very worried of this. The dark memories of how the movie making business collapsed in 1997 still fresh and the effects are still very much felt. Prior to 1997, the producers are facing the sudden surged of projects by all stations. The competitions among the broadcasters had cause the price for finish products to balloon to a level that never being felt before. Producers, Artistes, Directors, Script Writers and Production Crews are making tons upon tons of money. Even the junior production crews are driving Honda in those days. Then came August 1997, everything collapses.
More that one hundred production houses closed down. More than ten producers went bankrupt while more than hundred creative people become jobless. All television stations put an immediate stop on buying new program. At the same time RTM discovered they have enough stock for three years. The good times prior to 1997 never make it sequel until few months ago.
While some new producers are laughing all the way to the bank, the season one is staring at the rerun of post 1997.
Producers now need an option.
Kelantan can now emerge as a good option in this flat world of Malaysia. Post Production services can now be outsourced to Kelantan via the visionary Husam Musa.
A good editor will cost the postproduction centre between RM3,000 to RM5,000 in Kuala Lumpur. Yet, the salary is not enough for them to live a decent live on single income in Kuala Lumpur. An editor in Kelantan will get much lower than that, nevertheless, they may afford to have their overseas holiday twice a year. Renting for a space is also tremendously lower in Kelantan than in Kuala Lumpur or even Kulim. With this, the cost for postproduction can be slashed up to half the price that cost them if they do their editing in Kuala Lumpur. For every 26-episodes of half-an-hour program, producer can save up to RM26,000 by doing their editing in Kelantan. Even their director need not be in Kelantan to supervise the editing. They can supervise it at any Starbucks or even at their house via broadband.
Although the doors to entertainment businesses to branch out to Kelantan were never closed, only recently, the same doors are being open wide enough for it to happen. Currently, few producers cum director have moved their business to Kelantan. Besides servicing the state agencies, they are also involved in coordination and consultation services.
The price to rent a big house for shooting in KL will cost the producer about RM500 to RM1000 for one-day shot. However, the same premises plus the rental of hotel for the production personnel will still cost much lower than that in Kelantan. To shoot a whole 90 minutes television movie in Kelantan, the cost will be about 40% lower than in Kuala Lumpur and 20% lower than to shoot it in Baling, Kedah. The cost can be reduced even more, if the equipments and crew are being supply directly by a rental house that choose to based themselves in Kota Bharu itself.
As for now, the state government of Kelantan is getting more committed in providing the training in Animation and Multimedia among the school leavers. Soon the state will start to train production personnel and scriptwriters as well. At the same time, the state government should focus in developing the infrastructures to make the whole outsourcing business a reality.
Establishing an institution focusing on the research, development and promotion of media exploitation and potential in Kelantan is a must. Kelantan should have its own creative and artistically made show reel worthy of screening at Cannes Film Festival, soon.