Sunday, April 12, 2015

Sarawak a studio paradise for filmmakers

KUCHING: The accessible and exotic, picturesque landscape and ethnic diversity in culture and religions make Sarawak a natural studio that is exceptionally ideal for film shooting.

Tourism Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg yesterday encouraged filmmakers from around the world to shoot their projects in Sarawak and assured them of state support for a successful production.

“We are going to establish over a million hectares of forest, to be gazetted into national parks. This itself opens up the whole of Sarawak as location for filming,” he revealed to a press conference at the opening of the Asean-China Film and TV Co-Production Forum at the Sarawak Tourism Complex in the Old Court House here.

The forum was held in conjunction with the Asean International Film and Festival Awards (Aiffa) 2015.

From the state’s point of view, Abang Johari emphasised the need to blend diversity of cultures, heritage, traditions and way of life of the locals into the films in order to promote tourism.

“Sarawak has many facilities to offer to filmmakers. Our role is being the facilitator to smoothen the whole process,” he explained.

China-based Mulu Global Media Beijing CEO Jasmine Kho agreed that filming was not merely about finding a location to shoot anymore.

“It has to blend in the culture, the people, the religion, the way of life into the movie to introduce and capture the interest of the audience. That’s why the story and scriptwriting is very important in making this happen,” she stressed.

The movie ‘Lost in Thailand’, Kho shared, was a very good example, one which has contributed 40 per cent of tourist arrivals and tourism receipts to Chiang Mai particularly.

“After the movie was released in China, it achieved one of the highest box offices to date,” she said.

Kho pointed out that China is now the second largest film industry behind the US and by 2018, it is set to become the largest film and TV market in the world.