The Malaysian Association of Advertising Filmmakers (PPFIM) issued an open letter to the Minister of Communications and Multimedia, Saifuddin Abdullah, urging the ministry to allow the advertising film industry to operate as the businesses are “hanging on a thin line”.
The letter, which was issued on Friday, describes the advertising film industry’s predicament of running out of funds to cover their overheads and the impact not being allowed to film has had on the chain of other services.
“By not allowing the advertising film industry to operate, you are letting us die,” the letter signed by President of PPFIM, Khoo Kay Lye, states. “Allow us to resume shooting, we will strictly follow SOPs. Please..!”
Both the Malaysian Advertisers Association (MAA) and the Association of Accredited Advertising Agents Malaysia (4As) have also voiced their support in the letter, once again urging the minister to allow the industry to operate again.
“Marketing and advertising stimulate sales which in turn grows the economy. It is a proven equation but to work, it requires a chain of support services. Once the chain is broken, the economy falters. The people behind short film producers play an important part in this chain. They need to be allowed to operate to produce the content we need to sell our goods and services. This will help us do our part in helping in keeping the economy going,” said President of MAA, Mohamed Kadri Mohamed Taib.
According to President of 4As, Andrew Lee, since the onset of the pandemic, the marketing and advertising industry quickly adapted to the increasingly digitised environment and consumer behaviour by focusing its efforts online.
“As the digital economy has been identified as a new development driver and e-commerce projected to contribute to Malaysia’s gross domestic product (GDP), the industry stands ready to support the Government in accelerating technology adoption by creating effective digital content and campaigns to lift consumer spending patterns to pre-COVID-19 levels, boost business and household confidence as this will reinvigorate economic recovery,” Andrew stated in the open letter. “But in order for us to do that, we need all related industries in the advertising and marketing field, including the film production industry to be allowed to operate.”
The government’s decision to include entertainment as one of the sectors scheduled to resume operations in the final phase of the lockdown also increases concerns among the industry.
Speaking to MARKETING Magazine, Kay Lye said that he has not received any response from the minister since the open letter was issued and also added that his pleas to the Prime Minister’s office have also gone unanswered.
“The clusters that have emerged from the film industry have been from the long form film industries and not short form film producers like us and it’s important that we are included in the conversation to discuss potential options for the industry moving forward,” Kay Lye told MARKETING Magazine. “The authorities should not be making SOP decisions regarding our industry without our feedback and suggestions because we know the inside and outs of our operations.”
Kay Lye also added that there has been speculation that the advertising film industry will be allowed to resume operations in the second phase of the National Recovery Plan but it will be restricted to in-studio shoots.
“I don’t understand who’s advising them on these decisions because in-studio shoots will only increase the possibility of production crew members getting infected as studios lack appropriate ventilation and circulation,” Kay Lye explained.
The advertising film industry was not included as part of the industries to receive monetary help from the government through the Pakej Perlindungan Rakyat dan Pemulihan Ekonomi (Pemulih) which was announced last week.
The advertising film industry makes significant contributions to the Malaysian economy, with the advertising and marketing industry ecosystem pouring an estimated RM15 billion into the country’s economy last year alone.
“If our industry is not going to receive aid from the government during this time, there’s nothing we can do about it but they should give us a chance and let us operate under very strict SOPs so we can make a living,” Kay Lye told MARKETING Magazine. “I wish the authorities understood this and trusted us because it is in our own interest to follow the SOPs and keep our positive cases at zero. If we slip up it is us who will suffer.”
In May last year, Passion Pictures released a 40 second informational video on how to execute remote filming with behind the scenes footages of how they’ve adapted to new ways of directing, editing, and acting – all from their homes.