Pinewood Iskandar Malaysia Studios set to create 1,500 jobs by end-2013
JOHOR BARU: THE development of Pinewood Iskandar Malaysia Studios in Iskandar Malaysia will place Johor at the forefront of the local creative industry and transform it into Malaysia’s movie capital, says its chief executive officer, Michael Lake.
He said that while Pinewood was marketing Malaysia as a destination for filmmaking, it was also promoting it for companies to set up their infrastructure.
“Johor is going to be the real beneficiary economically of what we’re doing here.”
By the end of next year, he said, the development of Pinewood, a studio complex located on a 20ha site in Nusajaya at the heart of the Iskandar Malaysia Development Region, would have created 1,500 jobs in an export-oriented industry, while financing from overseas over the next decade was estimated to be around RM1.8 billion.
It will be the largest independent integrated studio facility in Southeast Asia, offering state-of-the-art film stages, TV studios and post-production suites from early 2013.
Pinewood will have two television studios, both 1,114.83 sq m, with seating capacities of 600 and 800 people, respectively.
There will also be five film stages covering a total of 9,290.30 sq m, two 1,858.06 sq m stages, two 1,393.54 sq m stages and a 2,787.09 sq m stage. The largest stage will have a water tank for productions involving work on or under water.
“This is not just about building the facilities in the hope that people will come, it’s about building a big creative industry in Malaysia,” said Lake, adding that providing training and opportunity were also Pinewood’s key goals.
Shamsul Cairel Abdul Karim, a local filmmaker at Maskarya Sdn Bhd, described the entry of Pinewood as a breath of fresh air because, other than offering new jobs, it would enable Malaysian filmmakers to take advantage of its vast experience.
“It knows the tricks of the trade well, which means it can do things much better from a technical perspective and, in turn, push forward local content and production.”
Besides Pinewood, there will also be 14-hectare creative village to be known as “Media @ Medini”.
He said this was where the film equipment rental companies would go and where anything that was part of the infrastructure of filmmaking was available.
“Pinewood will be a one-stop shop.
“A producer could walk up to the front door with a script and leave at the end of the production with a file ready to go to the broadcast television or the cinema.”
Ever since the National Film Development Corporation Malaysia (Finas) announced a 30 per cent cash rebate on expenditure incurred on filming in Malaysia in March this year, a lot of interest has been created about using Malaysia as a location.
The minimum spend criteria for foreign productions is US$1.6 million (RM4.85 million) and for Malaysian productions, US$830,000 (RM2.5 million).
Lake described the local film industry as fairly robust, with 50 films being released this year and 70 to 80 next year.
“What we are doing here is laying the foundation of an international industry. We have started marketing in the United States and Europe, and we are getting lots of interest out of India about filming here.”
He also said that some local producers, like KRU, for instance, would be able to take full advantage of Pinewood’s large studios if they wanted to expand into bigger international-style productions.
For Shamsul Cairel, he felt that if the Malaysian film industry wanted to make its mark internationally, it needed “something like 20 KRU” and Pinewood could lead the way. Bernama
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