Hubby Boo made a plea to the public to go and watch our latest movie - and to tell people if they enjoyed it. Actually, to be accurate, he asked those that had watched it already, and enjoyed it, to tell their friends and to say so on their blogs. Does that sound reasonable to you?
I was surprised to find myself burning with irritation when a commentator on his blog asked in a very belligerent tone, well, what do I get out of it? Do I get paid while you get rich? I couldn't help myself - I was sarcastic and hit the post button.
The commentator (I will call him/her Mr Man, because it sounds like someone who thinks highly of his or herself) said "without the people you are nothing". I have been married to hubby boo for 11 years, and I never saw any of those "people" write his music, scripts and comedy for him, direct his films for him, be the person that he is, be a host, emcee, presenter, musician, singer, songwriter, actor, comedian, film director, writer, scorer, producer.... where were all those people who gave him all these things? I would like to thank them all for personally creating him and working instead of him! Wow, imagine all those fans doing that, and they didn't even know it! Thanks Mr Man!!
Mr Man - you know who you are - you are a little off, right? There is no doubt that without an audience, Afdlin would be alone in a vacuum (good point, there, Mr Man). However, every one of Afdlin's fans CHOSE to like him. He did not single-handedly go out and force them all to be fans - and by the way, go and re-read his blog. Accuracy and accountability isn't a strong point for you, eh? It rarely is for other "Mr Man"s either.
And while those "people" as you say, somehow or other are doing everything for him to get him to where he is, I have watched him slave away while people tell him things that I would never wish anyone to hear. Demoralising, debilitating, heart-wrenching things about his weight, about his comedy, about his work. Any of you out there have hundreds of people simply watching and waiting and telling you they simply don't like what you do, not that it's bad or anything, they just don't like it? How would you like it if you came up to him to ask for an autograph and he said to you, "wow, how many months pregnant are you?" or "you sure eat like a pig" or "buy me dinner tonight because you are rich". People do this all the time, and always smiling as if they are being funny or kind. I just have to tell myself it is all ignornace, though I wonder, how ignorant must you be to go around insulting people and making assumptions? Are they like that to their own family? It often surprises me how much people let themselves hurt others. And yet he is usually cool and smiles and lets them take a photograph or ten, all the while making jokes at his expense, and taking his time at the expense of his family time. How little people are aware of what they are really doing to others.
So when I read that, I thought, oh, this guy needs to feel better than someone. He needs to be the one telling everyone they are being conned, or simply following like sheep. Ok, but why waste your time here? Go find all those poor people being conned out of their land, their rights. Meantime, hubby boo will continue to slave to make a difference in this film industry, and lucky for him, there are more sincere and open-eyed fans out there than there are the time wasters like the one i came across.
May I enlighten those who think the entertainment business is a an unhealthy, immoral, pleasure ride of riches, fame and glory?
Firstly, the film industry spends millions of ringgit each year. there are film crew member out there who sustain themselves all year without having to work extra other jobs to keep themselves in the black. It is a legitimate industry providing a living to many, many people. Whose expertise and professional attitude are a pleasure to work with, I might add. And yet, up until FINAS created a special loan, a company could not get funding unless they hawked off their assets? Even the special loan is not really special as it is not any more competitive than other facilities on offer out there. (Film doesnt come under agriculture, manufacturing, or IT. So they made a "special loan" which just means they created a field under which films would be recognised. It's just that all you need is approval from FINAS which garners your approval. And only one bank offers it, which means you better k*ss *ss nicely...
So, all those people out there who still think the entertainment industry is some sort of playing ground before you get a real job, think again. Its a tough business and professionals are in high demand.
Secondly, the Malaysian audience is a b*tch to please. They seem to hate slapstick, but those are the films that make millions. People are all talk about supporting the local film industry, but the market seems to be shrinking. We see Malays flocking to watch Twilight, but barely filing the local movie screenings. I once asked, if King Kong can make 12 million ringgit, that must mean there are enough cinemagoers to create greater demand for local movies, right? Wrong. It seems only half a million of our nation watches local movies. And who know how many are repeat goers. I hear better, more articulate and analytical commentary from non-malays than I do from malays - many of whom will NOT watch a malay film. What the hell? Ain't anyone proud of themselves anymore?
Thirdly, cinema distributors (you know them as TGV, GSC, and other independent cinema hall owners) take 40% of the ticket price. And they call the shots, despite the fact that they are forced to play local movies for two weeks under the Wajib Tayang scheme. If I were TGV and my main hall (200-300 seats) has to be used to play a local movie that only sells 20 tickets or less per night, I would be fuming. What a loss, right? No wonder they have no desire to support local movies. During our roadshow, we would find our posters were not put up, our standees were placed at the back or behind movies that were opening later than us. In KK, we found cinemas were displaying old posters that still said "Coming Soon". This was one week after the opening! When Sumolah had a so-so run in the first week last year, one chain threatened to pull it off. I don't blame them, because once they replace the film with the latest blockbuster, they are making huge profits. Do you know how much it costs a distributor to buy the license to screen a film like Quantum of Solace? Peanuts, compared to the profits they make every day. With up to twelve or more showings per day, making RM4 per person, per showing... Wow.
So we local producers have to make back our costs based on RM6 per ticket sold. In order to make a profit, we need to generate revenue 2-3 times what we spent.
That means hoping against hope that mean-spirited, anonymous comment-box writers will take a chance on paying a little for entertainment made by a local (which by the way, according to most reviewers and commentators, kept them laughing almost all the way through the movie - so it's not like we're asking people to watch a piece of crap) and donate a little of their money not just to the director or producer, but to the industry.
So if we made a film for RM1.5million (yes, it costs that much because people have real skills to contribute, you moronic anonymous commentator!), we would have to make a gross of RM2.5 million just to break even. JUST TO BREAK EVEN! So don't go shooting your ignorant mouth off asking what do you get in return. Do you ask that when your colleagues ask for help? Or when you parents need money? You're only doing that now because you don't have to face the person you are being an iiot to, and because that person is brave enough to put himself out there to be a target to idiots like you. Despite the fact that most fans are lovely, respectful, tactful and kind, there always is the one who has to make a snide comment about weight or money or fame or ability. Today, you are that person, and from where I stand, you lose.