#Showbiz: Finas prioritising quality scripts

A STRING of recent issues related to film funding, including low-performing releases, productions that fail to be completed on time and other irregularities, has prompted the National Film Development Corporation Malaysia (Finas) to introduce a new model for the Digital Content Fund (DKD).

This is to create a more comprehensive ecosystem for the development of the local industry.

Finas chief executive officer Datuk Azmir Saifuddin Mutalib said the new fund model aims to encourage producers to establish smart partnerships with various parties in the creation of new works.

"Producers cannot rely solely on Finas funds to produce films. This government body will no longer commit to paying 100 per cent like how it has been previously.

"Perhaps the DKD value given out will amount to 20 per cent, while the Film in Malaysia Incentive (Fimi) will be 30 per cent.

"This change is also in line with Finas' goal to turn make the creative industry into an economic driver, in addition to realising the mandate of Communications Minister Fahmi Fadzil, who wants more quality films to be produced for export purposes," he said in a recent news report.

Azmir added that the quality of a film's script will be Finas' priority in awarding the new DKD module.

"As the minister said, Finas' focus is on quality scripts. In the early stages of production, we will ensure that only good and quality scripts are given assistance.

"Finas is also discussing with film investors such as Media Prima Berhad (MPB), Astro and several other agencies that we know are involved in film production.

"In addition to working with investors, producers can collaborate with cinemas such as GSC and TGV to help in terms of distribution.

"In that way, we are confident that producers will try to produce better scripts and indirectly, the dependence on Finas funds will decrease," he said.

Azmir added that the issue was discussed during a round table session on the creative content industry with associations under the Malaysian Creative Capacity Enhancement Programme (MyCAP), which was held in Kuala Lumpur recently.

The session, chaired by Azmir, was aimed at encouraging dialogue and cooperation among industry stakeholders to address important issues like a standard contract and the MyCAP programme.

On when the new DKD model would be implemented, Azmir said the matter is still under evaluation.

"The Communications Ministry has agreed to the proposal which, is currently in the final stages of evaluation.

"Prior to that, Finas had gathered views and feedback from the creative arts industry.

"Any announcement, including an implementation date, will be made by the Communications Ministry," he said.

Commenting on the latest development of a standard contract relating to working hours and salary scale, Azmir said that Finas would let the associations decide on the matter.

"There was a discussion on the issue. In terms of a salary scale, they already have a reference that can be used.

"However, the matter of working hours is more about an understanding between the producers, artistes and behind-the-scenes crew.

"Basically, this meeting was done to formulate a collective view on the various agenda that were raised.

"Finas will then refine and implement the suggestions or improvements given according to the suitability and what is needed.

"The associations can also voice suggestions that could boost the industry in future meetings. We plan to hold these meetings four times in a year," said Azmir.

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