Until Death Do Us Part - Jonas

Rabu, Januari 21, 2009

#4. Hype : Hollywood In 5

01hb Januari, 2009
New Strait Times
Hizreen Kamal

Malaysia has to satisfy five factors in order to woo Hollywood studios into the country. HIZREEN KAMAL talks to Hollywood film luminary William Bowling.

WHEN Hollywood blockbusters Entrapment and Anna and the King were filmed in Malaysia in 1998 and 1999 respectively, the producers had, to a certain extent, introduced the country to the world.A decade later, Malaysia has yet to see major Hollywood studios making movies here.

Is Malaysia a suitable location for Hollywood films?

Warner Bros worldwide location executive William “Bill” Bowling believes that Malaysia still has a long way to go to entice the studios.
“Malaysia is not well known. The best way to publicise the country would be with a successful film which will open doors,” said Bowling, who was in Kuala Lumpur to conduct a recent one-day seminar entitled Future of Malaysian Film Industry and its Development from an International Perspective and Location Business — Positioning Malaysia as an Attractive Location for Foreign Film Producers at the National Film Development Corporation (FINAS) in Ulu Kelang, Selangor .

The seminar was co-organised by the Culture, Arts and Heritage Ministry and FINAS.

“Although Malaysia has the potential to become a suitable location it also depends on what a film requires from the country,” he said.

Bowling stressed five factors for a suitable location.

First is safety and security.

“Schedules are normally tight and a production cannot be halted due to this factor.”

The feasibility and cost-effectiveness of a location is also important.

The fourth factor is getting support from the local government.

“Filming is not simple. For instance, if a scene requires a car to be driven at high speed through a city, the support of the local council is essential.

“Also, film equipment has to arrive promptly and visas must be processed quickly,” he said.

The fifth aspect is skilled and highly trained crew members.

“This is necessary since studios do not want to fly in their crew which will increase production costs.

“Malaysia also needs to consider competition from its neighbours such as Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines, which are wooing international film studios.

“For example, if a Hollywood studio wants to make a movie in Asia, it may consider Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines which are similar to Malaysia. If production costs is cheaper in Thailand and suitable crew members are available, it’s likely the studio will go there.”

Countries such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Singapore and South Korea also offer financial incentives to Hollywood studios.

“Financial incentives are a major influence on Hollywood studios. Malaysia needs to work on that.”

A classic example is New Zealand, the location of the award-winning Lord of the Rings trilogy.

“This is a big challenge for Malaysia but it is good that the country is working towards developing this industry.

“I look at the booming audiences in China and Indonesia as a positive sign that people are interested in cinema products and building more cinemas. Hollywood studios are looking at ways to penetrate the film markets there.

“They want to bring their products and be part of the Asian film industry,” said Bowling, who is a respectable film luminary in Hollywood.

Bowling has high regards for Malaysia and FINAS.

“A FINAS representative visited Warner Brothers to promote Malaysia. The country is serious about developing a viable and strong industry.”

As for visual effects, Bowling feels Malaysia has potential to be recognised.

“Some Hollywood studios have been in talks to develop digital technology here as another way to improve production costs. Sometimes, it is not just about bringing in a big movie crew but also bringing work in.

“If Malaysian companies excel at visual effects, they can be employed whenever Hollywood needs the expertise even if it doesn’t make movies here. But that takes a lot of training and skills.”

Bowling says filming Hollywood movies locally can create job opportunities and boost the country’s tourism industry.

“Local crew members can also get hands-on training in their respective fields.”

Bowling has worked in more than 80 countries in 25 years.

Among the feature films he was involved in were Talladega Nights, Starship Troopers, Saving Private Ryan and Speed Racer.

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