Some improvements have been made to the Compulsory Screening Scheme (Skim Wajib Tayang) by National Film Development Corporation Malaysia (Finas). The scheme, which aims to help local filmmakers, enforces cinema operators to showcase local (or joint-venture) films in the cinema halls for a period of time.
“I feel this scheme still has its importance to the Malaysia film industry,” said Zahrin Aris, Finas Skim Wajib Tayang’s president during a press conference held at the Content Malaysia Pitching Centre in Kuala Lumpur recently.
At the event, he also quelled the rumour of the abolition of the scheme which caused a bit of an uproar among filmmakers.
He said, one reason for the improvement is to increase the quality of the films made in Malaysia and so that the scheme is not abused by any party.
Under the previous scheme, a local film has to be screened for 14 days in the biggest hall of a given cineplex. The improved version states that if the local film does not fill up 15% of the hall capacity within three days, Finas encourages the operators to move it to a smaller hall.
“With the move to a smaller hall, the film does not have to carry the huge burden of filling a large number of audience and can instead continue to be screened in the cinema,” Zahrin noted.
Datuk Yusof Haslam, president of Malaysia Film Producers Association (PFM) – who was present at the press conference – said this makes more sense. “In a large hall, 15% seems like an unachievable target sometimes. Whereas in a 100-seater hall, we just need 15 people to watch it and the cinema operators can continue to show the film for the remaining period,” he said.
On Finas official website too, it states another condition for the move to a smaller hall: “… the number of viewers in the initial hall are less than 30% of its total seating capacity on the first four consecutive days of its screening.”
Another welcome change to the scheme is, a film has to be shown at least five times a day compared to previous four times a day.
Besides the improvements, Finas has also added a new rule to the scheme – one that Finas hopes will encourage filmmakers to make quality films for the benefit of the audience and the film industry.
Zahrin explained: “Come July this year, the films that we deem as ‘poor’ will be vetted by a second panel comprising journalists, film critics, lecturers, film students, etc. This is to ensure a film is truly worthy to be screened at the cinema for public consumption and we are not rejecting a film based on one party’s opinion. If the film does not pass both levels, it will not fall under the Compulsory Screening Scheme.”
At this point, Zahrin said, the producer of the said film has to deal directly with the exhibitor if they want the film to be screened at the cinema.
According to Datuk Kamil Othman, director general of Finas, the improvements and addition to the scheme is a way to boost the quality of local films. His long-term plan for Malaysia is to get local films to travel to the international market successfully.
Yusof added: “I have found that cinema operators are very encouraging of this Compulsory Screening Scheme as they do want the local films to make money. The low-quality films aren’t that many, but filmmakers need to realise that there has to be a standard for the consumption of paying public.
“We want to make sure that the future producers and filmmakers are better than us, and with this new ruling the standard can be made higher.”
For more information on the scheme go to finas.gov.my/.