Friday, July 18, 2008

Is there a "Spielberg" somewhere in Malaysia?

In 1964, Steven Spielberg, then a 16-year-old, directed his first full-length movie "Firelight".
With a budget of US$600, the science fiction film about aliens abducting earthlings, made a profit of US$100.
"Firelight" had been a point of no return for Spielberg, who is now among the most recognisable names in the global filmmaking industry.
Information Minister Ahmad Shabery Cheek believes there is a Spielberg somewhere in Malaysia, if only he or she could be unearthed early.
"The important thing is, in the creative industry, one has to start early," he said.
In fact, one has to start early in any field, including sports, the minister said.
An athlete who wants to be world champion should start honing his or her skills early and take part in major competitions, he said.
"Raphael Nadal is only 22 years old but he is already a Wimbledon champion," said Ahmad Shabery, referring to the Spanish tennis player who won the prestigious championship after beating defending champion Roger Federer on July 2.
As a minister in charge of the media and creative industry, Ahmad Shabery is aware that the ministry should provide a platform to encourage such activity, as well as to support institutions which offer courses related to the industry.
"These young people are taught to create content but where do they go to air their works? Which cinema is willing to show a short film of 10-minute?
"In the end, the assignments are just handed over to the lecturer for marking purposes, and after that they will be stored away,"
he said.
But things are changing thanks to a programme that promotes creativity among the young people, aptly called the Young Artiste Programme.
"I believe among the assignments given, there will be some which are better than those produced by television stations.
"Sometimes, making a 10-minute film is much more difficult than a long-winding drama,"
he said when launching the Young Artiste Programme aimed at spurring the development of the local content industry.
The programme, targeted at those aged 30 and below, is jointly organised by Filem Negara and Radio Television Malaysia (RTM).
It covers four categories namely comedy, documentary, experimental and animation, each with a length of between five to 10 minutes.
The programme will be aired on Saturdays and Sundays on RTM for 30 minutes, starting tommorow.
Ahmad Shabery hoped the programme would help the development of the local content industry, thus meeting the demand from television channels, which are on the increase lately.
He said industry players should not think merely of getting air time over RTM and other local stations but also at the international level.
"When the (Korean drama series) Winter Sonata was aired here, the people are beginning to talk about South Korea and no just India or Hong Kong," said Ahmad Shabery, who hoped that one day local series, such as the "Gerak Khas" police drama, would be aired on television stations in that country.
He was confident that Malaysia's creative industry would be successful if it
was spearheaded by young people.
Apart from having high creativity, they understand their contemporary better.
"Look at Yahoo! and Google which are started by the young people... they are now becoming part of our daily lives in this multimedia era," he said.

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