MY ad filmmakers appeal again to resume shoots: 'You are letting us die'

The Malaysian Association of Advertising Filmmakers (PPFIM) has sent an open letter to Minister of Communications and Multimedia, Saifuddin Abdullah, stating that by not allowing the advertising film industry to operate, it is "letting us die". PPFIM's president, Khoo Kay Lye, said the industry's business is "hanging on a thin line" and it is running out of money to support its employees. "We also support many services and skilled workers. If we have no shoots, they have no food," he added.

"While we understand if the government cannot give us a lifeline in the form of a handout or a bantuan, at least allow us to find our own. Allow us to resume shooting, we will strictly follow SOPs. Please..!" Khoo said. 

Khoo described the industry's current predicament as passengers in a bus travelling at 200km/hour without a driver. "The brakes have failed and we are heading straight into a wall. We cannot get out and we know we are going to die! No, this is not a scene from a TV commercial that we are shooting. This is a real-life situation!" he added.

Currently, filming activities are only allowed when the country enters phase three of the National Recovery Plan. Separately, The Edge Markets reported on 3 July that the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia is working to obtain permission for filming activities in studios to be permitted during phase two of movement control under the National Recovery Plan. To ensure compliance with SOPs, the proposal will only be applicable to approved studios, The Edge Markets reported quoting Saifuddin. 

The letter comes a month after Malaysia went back into a full lockdown again from 1 June. During the FMCO, all sectors were not allowed to operate except for essential economic and services sectors. On 28 June, the government said it will extend the full lockdown until daily new COVID-19 cases dip below 4,000. Shortly after, the government announced last Thursday that an Enhanced Movement Control Order will be imposed on several localities in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor beginning 3 July. 

The Malaysian Advertisers Association (MAA) and the Association of Accredited Advertising Agents Malaysia (4As) also voiced their support that the industry must be allowed to start shooting again. In the same letter by PPFIM, MAA president, Mohamed Kadri Mohamed Taib, said 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," he added.

He explained that the people behind short film producers play an important part in this chain and they need to be allowed to operate to produce the content brands need to sell their goods and services. "This will help us do our part in helping in keeping the economy going," he said.

Meanwhile, 4As president, Andrew Lee, said the industry has witnessed a tremendous increase in digital traffic, digital media consumption and online transactions in the many months of lockdown. To adapt, the advertising and marketing industry has focused its marketing efforts in the digital space. He added that the industry is also 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.

"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," Lee said.

PPFIM also appealed to the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia Malaysia last May to allow the industry to resume shooting commercial films during the pandemic. Khoo said back then that without lifting the MCO on the industry, new TV commercials will not be produced and ad agencies will not be able to convince advertisers to sell. This will lead to consumers buying less and advertisers cutting back on budgets, putting a strain on an already dire economic situation, he added. Shortly after, the Malaysian government approved the film industry to resume operations after Hari Raya.

Photo courtesy: 123RF

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