Advertising filmmakers appeal to be allowed to reopen for business


  • Letters
  • Tuesday, 12 May 2020

UNDER the conditional movement control order (MCO), businesses in multiple industries are being allowed to reopen for business. However, the advertising film production industry will not be one of those that are reopening.

The advertising film production industry is the rice bowl for many of our members. Like everyone else the world over, we also took the brunt of the impact of Covid-19. We, too, are buried in the wake of its destruction.

As the world slowly but ever so cautiously attempts to return to "normalcy", Malaysia too is braving the risks to do likewise. We are well aware that the dangers may outweigh the intention, but this is something we need to do in order to get our lives back in order.

My close-knit film and video production industry has been the source of livelihood for many, and a large number are freelancers. This means they do not have a steady income but earn their wages in a daily and job-based manner.

No one - not Malaysia, not the world - has ever encountered a challenge like the Covid-19 pandemic. Historically, when facing difficult times, my industry in partnership with corporations such as Petronas, MAS and Maxis would align with the government by producing films that inspire the people to give them hope.

Today, without lifting the MCO on our industry, new TV commercials will not be produced. Advertising agencies will not get to convince their advertisers to sell. Consequently, consumers will not buy, or buy less. Advertisers will cut back budgets, adding more burden to an already dire economic situation. It is a painfully vicious circle.

When TV and video commercials are produced, hundreds and even thousands of crew members with different skill sets get to work. With the enforcement of the MCO, almost all film production jobs have been halted. The result is simple – no job, no food.

I understand that this plight is not exclusive to the people in my industry, but my empathy must first be for those in my industry. We are hungry. We are desperate for help. It has been hard for us and harder still for those who will be celebrating Hari Raya Aidilfitri soon.

This appeal is not a selfish one. The advertising film production industry plays an integral part in making significant contributions to the Malaysian economy. An estimated RM15bil from the advertising and marketing industry ecosystem goes to the country’s economy.

My industry is not just asking for help. We want to be part of the help. We want to play an active role in helping the nation and its people rebuild lives and livelihood. We will comply with all the necessary procedures and guidelines to ensure the safety of all before the objective of work comes into play.

As a declaration of our sincerity and earnestness, we have initiated a thorough and stringent standard operating procedure for all production companies to adhere to throughout all film productions when our industry is reopened. A copy is available on the Malaysian Association of Advertising Filmmakers Facebook page. This is our commitment to show that my industry is aligned with the government’s health and safety regulations in its effort to ensure that it is safe to return to work.

Our effort has the support of the Malaysian Advertisers Association, Association of Accredited Advertising Agents of Malaysia, Post Production Animation & Creative Content, Malaysian Society of Cinematographers and many of our industry partners.

I humbly and desperately appeal to our Communications and Multimedia Minister to fight for our cause and allow the advertising film production industry to reopen and commence work urgently.

My industry trusts the foresight and leadership of this ministry to make the right decisions to help not only put the economy back on track but also, and more urgently, to put food on the table of a lot of people.

I stand united with my fellow members, and we as an industry stand united with Malaysia in the face of such trying times.

KHOO KAY LYE

President

Malaysian Association of Advertising Filmmakers

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