COVID-19 storm wrecking local movies, artistes

LOCAL artistes and producers are going through a hard time due the COVID-19 pandemic, said Persatuan Seniman Malaysia (Seniman).

Speaking to FocusM, its president Rozaidi Abd Jamil, popularly known as Zed Zaidi, said despite having standard operating procedures (SOP) in place to resume filming, artistes are still worried of their safety.

“Although the SOP now is more flexible, artistes cannot resume filming as usual as we have to finish up within certain time frame, unlike in the past where we work from morning till night.

“Therefore, many of us have to alter our scripts to make sure not many people are involved during one schedule. This is affecting filming and product quality,” he said.

Yesterday, the Malaysian Association of Film Exhibitors (Mafe) announced that cinemas will progressively suspend movie screenings and operations at their locations due to the ongoing pandemic.

It added that the decision was made due to the conditional movement control order (CMCO) in some states across Malaysia, which requires cinemas to remain closed.

“To all patrons of Malaysian cinemas, we would like to extend our gratitude for the unending support and solidarity thus far, and we look forward to welcoming you back soon, to once again share the magic of movies on the big screen,” its president Cheah Chun Wai was reported saying.

Zed Zaidi said while he understood Mafe’s decision, he hoped that cinemas will resume its operations soon, with strict SOP put in the place to keep the pandemic in check.

“Our incomes are badly hit. We need things to resume to normalcy soon before it gets worse,” he said.

Continue loan moratorium, EPF payouts

Zed Zaidi, a prominent local actor himself, said Seniman is having constant discussion with the National Film Development Corporation Malaysia (Finas) on how keep the local cinema industry moving despite the setbacks.

One of the ways, he said, was for the government to provide free swab tests for artistes when the latter attend film shooting.

As for Seniman, Zed Zaidi said his organisation has provided some support for struggling artistes to ease their burden.

“We have provided them with rice and flour. At least, it gives them some relief,” he said.

On what the government can do, Zed Zaidi said that extension of the loan moratorium would be of great help to local artistes as their earning capacity has dropped drastically.

“The Government should also continue the i-Lestari programme and monthly payout from the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) to ease our burden,” he said. – Oct 31, 2020

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