THE state government is gearing up efforts to revitalise the Perak Film Office in hopes of turning Perak into a film hub.
Despite having set up the Film Office in 2012 to encourage film-makers to shoot and carry out their post-production work in Perak itself, State Tourism, Arts, Culture, Communications and Multimedia Committee chairman Datuk Nolee Ashilin Mohd Radzi said Perak had yet to fully build on exposure from the films made here in the past.
“The Film Office is not a new thing but what we are hoping to do is to restart and revitalise it.
“This is because films have been known to have a very positive impact in promoting places,” she said.
Papan, a small, sleepy town in Perak, wakes up occasionally to the buzz of film productions in their front yards.
According to Nolee Ashilin, initiatives and incentives to attract film-makers to the state are currently being discussed and drawn up.
“In the meantime, we continue to encourage and welcome film-makers to come to Perak.
“We will assist them in whatever way we can with regards to location and information,” she said.
Welcoming the initiative, film producer and director Alex Chong said, Perak, especially Ipoh and its surrounding towns, had many suitable locations for filming compared to Kuala Lumpur and Johor.
“Smaller towns or areas such as Papan and Lahat as well as nearby areas that have numerous buildings from the 1970s, are ideal for filming modern and period dramas.
Historic sites like Kellie’s Castle in Batu Gajah, Perak, make good film locations.
“This is also where the Hollywood film Anna and the King was filmed,” said the director of Midia Production Sdn Bhd.
Filming in Perak, Chong added, was also a cheaper alternative compared to other bigger cities.
“As an Ipoh boy, I try as much to conduct filming in my home state.
“I think the state executive councillor for tourism is quite right when she says that films are good for promoting places.
“Films made here will definitely bring tourists to our state.
“In fact, it’s with the same belief that I’ve just completed filming several travelogues on Pulau Sembilan, Bagan Datoh and Taiping as 30-minute segments in Mandarin with English subtitles for the overseas market.
Mamat (right) directing cast members during the filming of ‘Kala Malam Bulan Mengambang’. He says he is all for the revitalisation of the Perak Film Office.
“They are currently in the post-production stage,” said Chong, who was previously involved in the distribution of Hong Kong movie Fathers and Sons, starring singer Aaron Kwok and actress Charlie Yeung, and shot in Pusing in 2005.
“Unfortunately, I’ve not heard about the Perak Film Office. I think the state government is moving in the right direction to revive it. Perhaps, the state can also do more to promote the existence of the Film Office after this,” he added.
Describing Perak as a “shooting haven” for both local and international productions, film director and screenwriter Mamat Khalid said it was a wise move on the state government’s part to revive the Film Office.
“It would be a terrible waste not to capitalise on what we have.
“Perak not only has excellent shooting locations but also the necessary infrastructure and logistics to be an international film hub.
“We have facilities everywhere in the state,” said the Perak native whose works include Puteri Gunung Ledang, Zombi Kampung Pisang and Kala Malam Bulan Mengambang.
Mamat, too, believes that films make very effective marketing and promotion tools for tourism.
“Through films we are able to show the geographical beauty of our own backyard.
“I think seeing our beautiful sceneries, for example, rivers, hills and forests, in films, will most definitely pique people’s interest to visit Perak,” added Mamat, who is also the younger brother of Datuk Mohammad Nor Khalid, better known as Lat.