Malaysia Wants to Extend its Borders (Cannes)

The government is launching a new initiative to bring Malaysian TV and film projects to the rest of the world.


CANNES -- The government is launching a new initiative -- the Malaysian Creative Content Association (MCCA) -- to bring Malaysian TV and film projects to the rest of the world.

As local productions have increased and the country has become a prominent location double for other Asian countries, it is investing in efforts to increase Malaysia’s presence on the international scene.

“As the country’s matured and as we’ve become more of a middle-income country, it’s opened a bit more space for people to pursue their ambitions within the creative industry,” says Media Prima COO H.E. Kamal Khalid, who is the new association’s temporary chairman. “One of the things which the government has identified as a potential income earner for the country is the creative content industry. It wants Malaysian producers to look beyond our borders when creating content, and we’re trying to see whether we can internationalize Malaysian film, Malaysian dramas, Malaysian documentaries more.”

The MCCA (a working title) is designed to make this possible by organizing the industry’s pre-existing policies and players. Working in concert with pre-existing agencies National Film Development Corporation (FINAS) and Multimedia Development Corporation (MDec), the MCCA will develop an eco-system that further promotes the country as a hub for content creation coming from outside of Malaysia and coordinates a bigger, better presence at markets like Cannes, Singapore, Hong Kong and others around the world.

“In the past, we have always had a presence in these kinds of markets, but the people that tend to come along are the bigger producers,” says Khalid.

“The association can play a role in giving a voice or a platform for the smaller producers, who maybe have content that is good or has a chance of being developed as niche content. Obviously, it’s expensive to spend a couple of weeks in the south of France, so they can use the Association as a proxy.”

Khalid and representatives of a few of the founding members of the group are working to officially register the association by the end of June and hire as mall staff to run it so the MCCA can have a full presence back in Cannes by MIPCOM in October.

A regional event yet to be determined, but along the lines of a small festival, will follow by the end of the year. EFM and AFM are not immediate targets.

As part of its Economic Transformation Program, the government is providing some seed funding through FINAS, and the group is trying to secure partial grants for the next few years. But ultimately the MCCA must develop ways to generate revenue for itself beyond the dues of its members. (FINAS and MDeC will have permanent representation on the MCCA council.)

The MCCA is not designed to increase homegrown content but to harness it as it grows organically for a bigger audience around the world. In the last four years, the number of Malaysian local theatrical releases have nearly doubled, as have the number of theaters and screens and box-office grosses (now totaling about $27 million).

Local producers and filmmakers have become more ambitious in turn, investing more in CGI, foreign location shoots, higher production values and higher concepts, as with the epic period film The Malay Chronicles.

Eventually, the association hopes to encourage the industry to grow beyond its healthy live-action and animated TV and film productions to encompass mobile content and apps, video games and web content, as well.

Perhaps taking note of the international success of the film industries of regional neighbors India and Hong Kong, the MCCA is looking to move Malaysia beyond its few one-off cases of global export to a wholesale effort. “We want to try and create critical mass,” acknowledges Khalid. “It’s supposed to be outward-looking, bringing Malaysian content to the world. The more cross-fertilization happens, the better it is for our members. A rising tide lifts all boats.”