Sharifah Amani: Lopsided contracts a norm in the Malaysian entertainment industry

KLANG: The Malaysian film industry is in danger of sinking and the government has been urged to come up with laws to protect artistes and those who work in the entertainment industry.

On of the reasons is that the current environment prevents local artistes, producers, directors and filming crew from giving their best.

Actress Sharifah Amani Syed Zainal Rashid Al-Yahya (pic) said that the local movie and drama industry had many talented people were stifled having to deal with bread-and-butter issues.

Without mincing her words, she said that artistes were struggling to make ends meet because of lopsided contracts and lack of job security.

Besides not being able to make a decent living, industry practitioners are also unable to explore their potential to come up with quality productions.

"We need laws to protect artistes as well as government acknowledgment so the industry can be a big money-making source for the nation,'' said Sharifah Amani, 33, who came into prominence in 2005 with the co-lead role in the hit movie Sepet.

She said unless something is done, artistes would continue to struggle and the industry would deteriorate further.

"Our actors, dancers, musicians, writers and others in our industry are struggling.

"We don't have unions to look out for us and we don't have set minimum wages or insurance coverage,'' lamented Sharifah Amani.

She said industry members were also given one-sided contracts that stipulated a mere lump sum payment for work done.

"But the big companies put your movies on various other platforms without telling you or giving you residual or royalty payments,'' said Sharifah Amani.

She hoped that the matter would be raised in Parliament so that the government could look into the matter and initiate laws to protect artistes who give their all to keep the local entertainment industry alive.

She said the situation was so one-sided that even producers do not own the rights to the programmes they make.

Sharifah Amani said that the crewmembers were the worst hit as they had to work long hours for pittance.

She said that most have families to support and are forced to put up with poor working conditions and remuneration.

When contacted, Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo said that there was a need for the issue to be looked into carefully.

"We need to make sure artistes have means by which their concerns can be addressed effectively and the suggestion for a union will be looked at,'' added Gobind.

According to Gobind, the new team in the National Film Development Corporation Malaysia (Finas) was perusing different clusters and concerns affecting the industry and looking at ways to solve specific issues.

"I will suggest to them for the need for a committee to focus on this as well,'' said Gobind.