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Economics of film

Local filmmakers who participated in a local investment fair point out the potential for the MSAR’s film sector and possibilities for its growth

Including the Macao Economic Services (DSE) and/or the Macao Investment and Promotion Institute (IPIM) could help push forward the 2017 Guangdong–Hong Kong–Macao Film Production Investment and Trade Fair, ended yesterday, according to local filmmaker and participant in the fair Fernando Manuel Nunes dos Santos Eloy.
Mr. Eloy’s project was one of nine local projects selected to participate in this year’s edition of the fair, now in its fourth edition. The filmmaker notes that the project being chosen for the film is “always good” and that “being present at these events is always good”.
However, the creative notes that the organization being conducted, on the Macau side, only by the Cultural Affairs Bureau (IC) could help motivate potential investors, as well as filmmakers alike, as “at the end of the day we are talking about business.”
“Probably many people don’t know how to invest in cinema, because it’s not just what people usually know, they invest in what they traditionally know: stock exchange, real estate,” states the filmmaker, opining that bringing in “people with experience of investing in films” to explain to local filmmakers, especially young filmmakers, could help their development and reach.
“If the economic department (DSE) is involved I believe that people will start to look at this as ‘well, this is business, people are making money, people put some money into that film and they got this [amount] back’. And I think that is the element that is missing,” notes the filmmaker.
While noting that it’s impossible to place a price tag on a feature-length film, given the variables of cast, location, visual effects and more – the filmmaker set a minimum price for making a feature film at HK$5 million, and even investors supplying a portion of that funding can help kick-start a project to attract more investment.

Putting it out there
“I think it’s great that they do that, that they say ‘look this is happening’, which is what this event is,” points out CEO of Box Productions, from Hong Kong, Patrice Poujol, also involved in the two-day fair.
“And they’re trying to tie it up to Hong Kong which is a production hub and Guangdong which has the money also, so it’s really good. But I think it has to be also supported by the real thing, which is essentially training new talent and making sure they can strive and thrive eventually into filmmaking,” points out the CEO.
This could be in all areas linked to film, given that “It would be very difficult to attract a lot of films in Macau because it’s a small place. But why not? You could do post-production sound for example,” he notes, pointing out that “you don’t need a lot of investment”.

The winner of the Film Project—Grand Award at the fair was local filmmaker Harriet Wong, with her film project ‘My Dreamer Daddy’.
Ms. Wong noted that this is the first time she has joined the fair, as she had been asked to join the first edition but was working in the United States at the time and “would prefer to stay in the U.S. to work on my script, rather than joining in the event.” She points out she later regretted that decision, “because I found it’s very important to meet investors”.
Ms. Wong notes that Macau’s film history stretches back many decades, even with a Hollywood production named ‘Macau’ in the 1950s and that, regarding the government trying to bring back local talent from abroad, “I think it’s me! I went to Beijing for 10 years, but I was sponsored by the government to study my masters degree”. Ms. Wong notes that: “the technique and all the fundamentals I learned [abroad] help me to find the topics [of films] in Macau,” pointing out a large talent pool and potential for growth.
Ms. Wong teaches a scriptwriting course at the University of Macau, for which she praises the talents of her students, noting that: “I found that they’re very talented but they have to have more chances, and maybe have more environments for them to growth,” as currently, topics, while developed, are very close to the writers’ personal story.
Regarding the other two awards attributed, the film Just Run! from Hong Kong received the “Film Project—Award of Excellence” while the film Coarse Tea, Plain Rice from Hong Kong received the “Film Project—Award of Merit”.