MY ad filmmakers body appeals to resume commercial shoots: 'It's a painfully vicious cycle'

Malaysian Association of Advertising Filmmakers (PPFIM) has appealed to the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia Malaysia to allow the industry to resume shooting commercial films during this COVID-19 crisis. In a letter to its minister, Khoo Kay Lye, president of PPFIM, said with the enforcement of Movement Control Order (MCO), almost all film production jobs have been halted. Khoo said:

Without lifting the MCO on our industry, new TV commercials will not be produced. Ad agencies will not get to convince their advertisers to sell.

"Consequently, consumers will not buy or buy less. Advertisers will cut back budgets, adding more burden on an already dire economically situation. It is a painfully vicious circle," he said, adding that when commercials are produced, "hundreds and even thousands of crew members with different skill sets get to work".

Khoo also said resuming film production work will help contribute to the Malaysian economy. According to Khoo, an estimated RM15 billion from the advertising and marketing industry ecosystem goes to Malaysia's economy. "My industry is not just asking for help. We want to be part of the help. We want to play an active role in helping the nation and its people rebuild lives and livelihood," he added. 

To ensure that hygiene and safety is observed when the film production resumes, PPFIM put together a set of standard operating procedure (SOP) for all production companies to adhere to throughout the production process. The SOP is supported by industry partners including the Malaysian Advertisers Association, the Association of Accredited Advertising Agents of Malaysia, Post Production Animation and Creative Content, Malaysian Society of Cinematographers.

According to the SOP, all production companies have to ensure hygiene practices throughout such as maintaining social distance, having high frequency of cleaning, wearing masks, and making sure indoor production venues have proper ventilation. Casting should only be done via remote conference or self-tape only. Before the production shoot, all attendances have to do a travel and declaration ensuring that they are well. 

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Meanwhile during the shoot, a certified on-set nurse should be present at all times. All shoot attendees must undergo temperature checks by the nurse twice a day, and production crew are to be issued an identifier once they pass temperature screening - for instance, wearing of a green sticker for clear screening identification. All meetings between agencies and clients will be held remotely as well. 

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Other on-set regulations include ensuring all crew wear specialised face masks such as N95 respirator masks,throughout the course of shoots - to be provided by production company. Make-up artists, hair stylist, wardrobe stylist also must wear eye protection due to close proximity to talent, and wash and sanitise their hands before and after styling. Catering departments to consider alternate refreshment stands to avoid contact with tea and coffee urns and any other frequent touch points. Art direction for the production shoot should also ensure high hygiene standards and social distancing as much as possible.

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Malaysia has relaxed its MCO regulations on 4 May, allowing some business to operate as usual with its Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO). The CMCO has since been extended to 9 June, according to The Star. Since the implementation of the MCO, companies have been getting creative with their ads by utilising remote shooting. Especially with Hari Raya around the corner, brands such as Grab, Watsons Malaysia, and Tesco have produced ads with remote shooting for its Raya campaigns. In a phone conversation with A+M, Grab's regional country marketing head, Sulin Lau, said the marketing team had to completely re-design the messaging and shoots of its Ramadan campaigns to be shot entirely from home. Props had to be sent through delivery and the director had to direct the talent virtually, and the films have to be simplified to be VLOG-style and lighter on equipment.

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