AT a recent hosted panel discussion in Taylor’s University, industry experts differed in their opinions on whether a technical degree is needed in the age of digital content creation, but agreed that the university experience is necessary.
Titled Content Evolution: The Game Changer of Filmmaking, the session shed light on the evolution of filmmaking in Malaysia as well as the importance of experiencing the journey towards gaining a degree.
Moderated by an award-winning filmmaker and Taylor’s educator Indrani Kopal, the session featured industry experts — filmmaker and Kakiseni president Low Ngai Yuen, MGAG creative producer Andrew Soh and Astro Indian Content Business vice president Marc Lourdes.
Soh, better known as Uncle Siu Mai in MGAG videos, opined that a filmmaking degree is unlike a law or medical degree where the subject matter is specific. Many in the industry come from different backgrounds, he added.
“Furthermore, with the ease of access to knowledge, platforms and equipment, anyone can be a filmmaker.
“Knowledge is available online, especially for this field, but the most important thing is passion,” he said.
Taking a different approach was Low, who felt that the theoretical knowledge garnered is important. Learning to work in teams and building networks will guide students when they eventually enter the industry.
“There is a misconception about how you don’t really need to study filmmaking,” said Low.
“If you make use of your university years, it will be the best years in terms of how you develop. It is amassing people who agree with you, building allies that will help you in the future.”
She emphasised that students need to understand the reasoning behind the studies, apply what they studied, and use their time at university wisely.
“The university provides a space for students to think critically and grow from the experience. It is not just the knowledge, but what you’re doing with it.”
Similarly, Lourdes stressed that students should not attend university just to get a degree.
“The degree is the ultimate result of the knowledge that you accumulated within that space of time spent at university, that cohesive atmosphere that will be the most useful to your future. But it does not end there as lifelong learning is a must,” he stated.
The panellists also discussed critical factors impacting the filmmaking industry, such as the democratisation of access to platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok.
Low remarked that everyone had the autonomy and power to create content that can be viewed by millions, making this the golden age of filmmaking.
This sentiment was echoed by Lourdes, who has managed digital content portfolios in Yahoo, Cable News Network and, presently, Astro.
“The costs of equipment to shoot films back in the day were prohibitive and people simply could not afford it. Today, all you need is your smartphone and it does not even have to be a great one,” said Lourdes.
“Lower costs and technological advances have revolutionised the industry. All you need now is a great idea and a few basic steps on how to do it, and you can be on your way to your first big show.”
Amidst the flood of content on various platforms as a result of the digital revolution, the panel also discussed the challenges content creators face in standing out from the crowd. With the number of mobile phone users forecast to reach 4.68 billion, competition will only keep increasing.
“As things get more digitalised, competition becomes rife. To capture the audience’s attention, we need to keep coming out with content that resonates with them. That is the one thing that has not changed in content creation — the power is still in the hands of the audience,” said Soh.