Reviving the film industry

Kuala Lumpur News , 8 October 2021

Zebra Studio founder/direc­tor and executive producer Saraleana Nattaya Azmi (left) and Tremendous Entertainment chairman Datuk Jared Lim are thrilled with their multifilm project.

AFTER almost two years of the Covid-19 pandemic disrupting the entertainment sector — upending the content pipeline, halting film production and closing cinemas — two companies have come together in a bid to revive the film industry as the country enters the endemic phase this month.

Zebra Studio Sdn Bhd and Tremendous Entertainment have sealed a mega project to produce 12 films in the course of 24 months, a bold move, which is expected to create job opportunities for some 1,000 arts practitioners (from artistes to production crew), who suffered a loss of income for more than 18 months.

With an investment totalling RM100 million, the multi-movie joint venture will see five films produced in Malay dialects, four productions in Chinese dialects, and three in English (with filming to take place in South Korea, China, India and Indonesia).

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Tremendous Entertainment chairman Datuk Jared Lim, who is ready to create exciting entertainment content for various platforms, sees the joint venture as the right move to create opportunities for industry players.

“During these trying times, entertainment is definitely one way for people to seek solace, with many still confined within the safety of their homes.

“Due to the lack of filming activities for a long time, there is definitely a shortage of new content.

“With this in mind, we want to focus the next 18 months to produce works to fill the void,” says Lim.

“This collaboration with Zebra Studio is one of the development strategies for Tremendous Entertainment, as well as leveraging the amazing pool of talent and infrastructure that Malaysia has by aiming to produce quality work and world-class films.

“Our vision for this collaboration is not merely for the local film industry or local production house, but those which may also be marketed globally,” he adds.

A wider audience

Lim says although all 12 films will be screened in local cinemas, they will also be made available online via over-the-top (OTT) platforms.

“We believe that entertainment products from this country have huge potential to be successful internationally,” he adds.

His sentiment is shared by Zebra Studio founder/director and executive producer Saraleana Nattaya Azmi, who hopes that this project will help give the local film industry the needed boost, especially after going through a tough time.

“With these 12 films, we hope to contribute in rebuilding and facilitating the recovery of the local film industry.

“We aim to produce more globally accepted contents by showcasing our unique culture and customs to the international audience.

“At the same time, we also want to see more of our arts practitioners having the international spotlight shining on them too,” adds Saraleana, whose employer owns the OTT platform Get Play.

She says in the advent of better streaming technology, the availability of various OTT platforms has created a big demand for content.

With the direction and demand, which are voracious now, the audience will no longer be tied to traditional staples.

“There are more productions from Asia being consumed all over the world now. Language is no longer an issue, since the audience’s focus is on great content.

“Because of that, we have also decided to focus on collaboration with creative industry players from China, South Korea, India and Indonesia to achieve a wider reach,” explains Saraleana.

She says there is no denying its potential of reaching out to a far bigger audience.

Saraleana says when Get Play was launched earlier this year, among those who downloaded its contents were Malaysians living overseas.

Of the 12 planned movies in the joint venture, one has completed filming.

Titled A Kind Of Love, the Cantonese film directed by C.L. Hor is a collaboration between Malaysia and Hong Kong, with Hong Kong artistes Edward Chui and Lisa Ch’ng playing the lead.

“We hope to screen it in cinemas either in December or January, in time for the Chinese New Year celebration,” she says.

“We hope by then, people will be comfortable returning to cinemas.”

Meanwhile, the second film, a Malay comedy titled Gadis Jolobu, will see Datuk Hattan, Datuk A.C. Mizal and Joey Daud as leading actors.

“It tells the story of three bachelors, who fall in love with the same girl. As the title suggests, the film will be shot in Negri Sembilan,” she says, adding that the production is planning to have open casting next month in search of a leading actress.

Filming for Gadis Jolobu is scheduled for January next year.

Source: New Straits Times