Abd. Khalid Maulod, Marketing & Promotion, FINAS (left); and Richard Ung Kok Kee, Board Member, FINAS (right)

Q: Firstly, what will be your broad objectives having FINAS here at MIPTV?

A: Broad objectives are to give our established Malaysian companies continuous support and also to create interests for the new companies, new producers who have got new products to get the industry excited. So that shows that in Malaysia, there’s a very robust industry going on. New companies continue to keep coming in with new ideas and the old ones are also becoming stronger and better. (FINAS is bringing over 40 Malaysian media entertainment companies to this year’s MIPTV.)

Q: FINAS has gone through some structural changes. How is FINAS different today as it was a year ago?

A: The objective of FINAS is still the same today. Number one is to promote as a regulator and number two to develop the industry. But lately, starting from this year, besides the Ministry of Information, Communication and Culture, there’s another unit called Film Negara. Film Negara is actually another unit that has been around in the Ministry that specifically focuses on production. So that unit is now defunct, and has been absorbed and merged into FINAS. In this instance, FINAS has become a bigger organisation. And also, the new parliament act allows FINAS to be a producer as well. So besides doing the job of regulating and development, now we are also producing our own content. We now have the capacity, ability and licence to produce. Film production, everyone knows – funding is a very important criteria. Many creative people have great ideas but when it comes to funding; it proves to be an obstacle. So with FINAS now in the position to act as a producer, we can at least spot and back up the new creative talents that come along. So these are the structural changes that we think will make the industry more exciting and robust.

Q: Speaking of funding, a year ago, FINAS made the announcement about the Film in Malaysia 30% tax rebate, meant to take effect in January. Could you give us an update?

A: We launched early this year and to date, put it this way, we have not approved any applications that have come in. We need to scrutinise the applications and from there we will give them a conditional certificate for them to start their productions, whereby they will fall under this incentive scheme. We have not approved any for the time being but we hope to go through this process and to be able to give some of these companies the certificate and start their productions. But again, in this business, there will be companies applying and sometimes, you may give them the certificate but they will just hold on to the certificates and may not want to begin shooting. So that will be an operational obstacle to us because you do not want to approve too many at one go. We will have to plan and monitor the situation. So this is the first time we are doing it and we will try to learn as far as possible.

Q: What criteria do you set in approving these applications?

A: For the time being, we welcome anybody from small productions to big productions. In terms of production budget, the minimum spend requirement is RM5 million and if it’s a local production it’s RM2.5 million. If you are doing only post-production, it’s RM 1.5million.