Published on: Monday, September 23, 2013
Kota Kinabalu: Metrowealth International Group CEO David Teo whose many hit Malay movies turned him from a salesman into a multi-millionaire said the industry is becoming a risky business due to technological developments that are turning audiences away from cinemas.
"Viewers are moving away from theatres to mobile devices and this influences viewers away from the television as well.
"This causes our returns to fall, which makes making movies a high-risk affair," said Teo, who was behind box office films like "Jangan Pandang Belakang", "Jangan Pandang Belakang Congkak", "Adnan Sempit", "Remp-it" and "Bini-bini Ku Gangster".
"In the past, our movies will usually rake in a few million ringgit profit at least.
But now due to this new media our profits have fallen. Luckily, we have Astro First to cover us but it is not for the long run," he said, when asked what was the biggest challenge the industry faced now.
He also felt film festivals are a waste of time and money, saying film makers should be able to make it on home ground than rely on film festivals to gain exposure and fame.
"You would be just wasting your time at these festivals and get no results," he said, adding he "is not crazy for glamour but crazy for money".
Teo rates Research and Development (R&D) on tastes like what the viewing public wants to see as important when making a film.
"If you keep giving them comedy films they will get bored. So we find out through social media their tastes and use that as a guide to produce a film. If a film is not popular it means the R&D is not strong and they don't know what the market wants.
"That's why many people usually make films with outdated elements which the younger generation cannot accept. Without this (R and D) one cannot last long in the business".
Teo also said local movies must suit local conditions rather than try to emulate overseas standards. In this connection, he frowns on casting westerners or promoting western values in local films but promote local themes.
"This is wrong. It shows lack of responsibility on their part because they are not promoting local culture. You pay and bring in these westerners for locals to promote.
You must realise that our money is for Malaysians and not for foreigners."
On creativity, he said although it is fine to be creative, one must also be realistic and consider profitabilty.
Another challenge is working with a limited production budget and faced with a high cost vs returns situation.
Besides, he said, there is lack of people sufficiently trained in animation, motion graphic and Computer Generated Imagery (CGI) fields.
"Nowadays there are superhero films, for example, where the motion graphics are professionally done but our Malaysian motion graphic artist cannot do this.
The work they deliver is like cartoon. So in the end these kinds of film genres I cannot do and we cannot compete with similar themed international films."
He recalled that it took him two years to make one of his films because the CGI he got was too cartoonish.
"I had it done over and over because I was not satisfied with the standard until my film eventually became outdated.
"That is why I use very little CGI in my films. The local technical people in these fields are not good enough."