#Showbiz: New Finas CEO to fine-tune creative industry

Datuk Azmir Saifuddin Mutalib, the new chief executive officer of the National Film Development Corporation Malaysia (Finas), has his work cut out for him since officially taking the hot seat on Nov 1.

With creative industry players lamenting the lack of jobs and opportunities, and several production companies even closing down, he is hitting the ground running.

Azmir, 48, is no stranger to Finas, having served as its deputy director-general in 2017 for a year.

Although he is grateful for the chance to serve the government agency again, the responsibility he must shoulder to mitigate the economic crisis faced by the industry is a tough one.

"The main issue right now is, there aren't many job and business opportunities for arts practitioners, putting much strain on them.

"It has become one of the key points for Communications and Digital Minister Fahmi Fadzil to tackle this growing problem and stabilise the situation.

"I cannot deny that creative industry players are facing an economic downturn.

"This is affecting not only producers, but also TV stations, which have seen a significant drop in advertisement sales due to the attention social media is garnering.

"This is where a government agency, like Finas, has the role of figuring out ways to help relieve the burden," he said.

Azmir said part of discussions during his first meeting with Finas chairman Datuk Kamil Othman was on speeding up the formulation of strategies and action plans.

"My first step is to meet and brainstorm with cinema operators, private and government TV stations, and streaming or over the top (OTT) platforms on ways we can work together to rejuvenate the creative industry.

"I believe this collaborative process will help lift arts practitioners, in addition to stimulating new ideas for their productions."

He added that Finas must stay abreast of industry changes and current events to adapt quickly and implement its plans, both short-term and long-term.

While Azmir agreed that the Covid-19 pandemic had severely impacted the local film industry with a 70 per cent drop in revenue, he said the situation was slowly improving after cinemas were allowed to operate again.

Azmir, who also served as deputy director of Finas Commercialisation Division in 2015, added: "Aside from helping the arts practitioners, Finas has to also support the cinema operators.

"If the cinema sector cannot operate well, wouldn't this also affect the screening of local films?

"The creative industry and cinemas need to move in tandem to ensure a brighter future together."

Finas also aims to focus on initiatives fostering quality filmmaking for international viewing.

"The local film industry has to move fast and seek out networks to cross borders.

"But what's important now is for me to meet industry players and associations, as well as the sales-and-purchase platforms for content.

"They would know better the current issues that require immediate action," said Azmir, who will serve as Finas CEO until Oct 31, 2025.

He succeeds Prof Dr Md Nasir Ibrahim, whose contract expired on June 1.

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