Studio complex promises boost to Indonesian film


SYDNEY -- The Indonesian film sector is awaiting the development of the country's first major studio complex, Indonesia Movieland, now under construction outside the capital Jakarta. When it's completed in five years it will mark a coming of age of the Indonesian industry, producers working in Indonesia say.

A ground-breaking ceremony held in August for the 90 acre site -- and attended by no fewer than three government ministers -- marked the start of construction of Phase One of an ambitious $150 million project that will provide studio and support facilities for the Indonesian and international film producers.

Developer PT Jababeka and its partner Multivision Plus, one of Indonesia's largest production companies, bill the site as "the first one-stop TV broadcast and film industry center in Indonesia."

According to Multivision CEO Raam Punjabi, Indonesia Movieland is based on India's Ramoji Film City and Universal Studios in the United States. In addition to serving the domestic production sector, the studio hopes to compete for Hollywood and Bollywood films now made partly in Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.

The project will be built in three stages. Stage one, to be completed by October 2009, will cost $60 million and see the construction of several multifunction studios, associated production facilities and a cultural center.

The finished site will be home to a theme park, a TV station, cinemas, a residential development and a school called the President Film Academy.

Indonesia Movieland will be part of the huge Jababeka development at Citarang outside Jakarta and sit near the 14,000 acre Jababeka Industrial Estate and Golf Club.

The developers also are hoping that film producers will use the larger site for external location shoots.

Like the Indonesian film sector itself, Movieland is privately financed. It also enjoys the support of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, which producers say is displaying a rapidly growing understanding of the international film and television industries' potential value to the nation.

The corporate sector is also showing interest. Microsoft Indonesia has pledged free graphics software to filmmakers and students at a proposed animation school, according to Ellen Sasiang, Jababeka's project head for Movieland.

The development comes at a key time for the film sector, says Punjabi. He jumped at the chance to be involved when Jababeka realized they needed a partner with film industry experience.

Punjabi likens the project's development to a chicken and egg situation. "Do we put in the infrastructure or wait for the industry to grow and then build it?" he asks, rhetorically.

Now, Sasiang says, Indonesian filmmaking has picked up to the point where the project is a necessity.

Planning for Movieland was helped by a government requirement that over the next year all Indonesian TV commercials be shot in Indonesia with local production. It didn't hurt, either, that studio space in Jakarta is booked solid with the 150 films expected to be released in 2009.