(the following onesheet was provided in hardcopy format to emering Cambodian filmmakers and youth at the 2012 FilmCamp in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, in response the question: “What can we do to develop the Cambodian film industry?” – Edited by J Rosette and Phun Sokunthearith)
Suggestions to Help Develop Cambodian Film Industry
· Petition Cambodian government for faster, cheaper broadband internet; as internet/TV converges, this will become more and more important for distribution and cloud-based production and postproduction technologies.
· Identify, support, and encourage INDEPENDENT & NON-ALIGNED* film festival events and efforts (as well as others) by local Cambodian film and media professionals.
Nonaligned effort = an effort that is conceived, produced, and implemented primarily independently of any foreign development agency or foreign government embassy, or cultural center in any form.
Foreign development agencies abound in Cambodia, and they have their place: the DMC at Royal University of Phnom Penh, for instance, is funded by the German Konrad Adenauer foundation, which is why most if not all of the teachers there are German.
The Cambodia Film Commission, on the other hand, was founded by a group of French development organizations.
Most development agencies adhere to some degree, overtly or not, to a diplomatic agenda set by their respective sponsoring foreign governments.
Modern ‘development’ is an extension of politics; with Cambodia’s geopolitical position in Asia, many countries are vying for leverage and influence here through the work of their development agencies.
Sometimes, particularly in developing environments, the most common way to secure funding, scholarships, or sponsorship is through a development agency or one of its extensions.
But be advised that there is a political motive to these efforts, to some degree…use your critical thinking skills to determine for yourselves what this might be, and how this is useful to you or your country in the long-term.
Independent, or non-aligned, efforts primarily secure their funding and sponsorship through a variety of sources, often private sector or grass-roots (i.e., crowd funding).
While they may be funded in part by a development or embassy grant, they are not by definition obligated to adhere to a foreign government’s development agenda – this can be beneficial the development of free expression and critical thinking skills in an emerging civil society.
· Explore new ground: Expand notions of ‘film’ to go beyond its traditional & customary industry scope and applications to encompass more interactive media, gaming, and other areas.
· Form a local task group of responsible Cambodian filmmakers and media practitioners to monitor and educate movie exhibition venues in the Cambodian territory.
Contrary to popular myth: copyright laws in Cambodia are not ‘different’ or absent. Lax governance, lack of public awareness, indifference, and the interests of non-diligent (‘pirate’) proprietors makes copyright & intellectual property laws in Cambodia difficult to enforce currently, leading to the irresponsible myth of ‘no copyright in Cambodia’ which plays a part in the diminishment of the local film industry here.
One way to improve the Cambodian film industry: a Cambodian film task group should seek out all venues in Cambodia (large or small, foreigner or Cambodian run) which are exhibiting films in an organized fashion* and request that proprietors provide a publicly viewable list of filmmaker/copyright holder contacts who can be contacted by phone or email by any member of the public.
(*organized = publicly advertising specific film titles on specific dates in a coordinated way, such as a listing on a calendar or website, to draw an audience, with or without monetary cover charge or admission / * not organized = movies being shown in some form, but no particular movie being advertised in a public way on a particular date to draw an audience…such as casual film group or guesthouse screenings, etc.)
This transparency mechanism – introduced and utilized by CamboFest, Cambodia Film Festival (www.cambofest.com) since 2007 – takes very little extra effort by venue owners and should be welcomed by any movie venue proprietor who is authentically seeking to develop the Cambodian film industry and media sector.
(CamboFest has never encountered a legitimate contractual or legal reason not to display this information, after over 250 movie titles at our festival)
Such a list of contacts, posted in the lobby or public area of the establishment, creates a way to verify that these venue owners are diligent about securing permissions to screen those films in Cambodia.
This in turn adds value to the venue, while simultaneously allowing a dialogue between Cambodian emerging filmmakers and the local and international filmmakers/distributors/copyright holders whose work is being exhibited in Cambodia.
Insist that all organized venue owners operating in Cambodia, regardless of size, whether foreign or Cambodian-run, ACCEPT THE CHALLENGE! Develop the Cambodian film industry through transparency – Demonstrate and make publicly available for review a complete list of all filmmaker, distributor, and studio contacts for movie titles being screened at each venue so the viewing audience can make contact with the filmmaker, distributor, or copyright holder.
Venues showing first-run Hollywood films in Cambodia should eventually be able to show copies of studio deal memos with verifiable contacts that clearly specify Cambodia as the exhibiting territory (vs. other 3rd party territories, such as Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, etc.).
This Cambodian film task group can educate any non-diligent venue owners about the impacts of their practices on Cambodia’s reputation in the international media trade, as well as their impact on livelihoods of filmmakers (especially independent (non-studio) filmmakers) locally and abroad.
· Be Proactive, take initiative, and be ‘healthily skeptical’
Listen to ‘experts’*, but keep in mind the industry is constantly evolving – old models might not apply, and some expertise may no longer be valid. Be confident about using your own instincts to try new things! (but keep costs and risks low at first, until you gain experience)
Crosscheck sources, online otherwise, to develop and update your knowledge of the craft and practices. Don’t be afraid to check the background of any film expert or professional, foreign or Cambodian, to certify their credentials, using Google searches or an online movie database like www.IMDB.com.
What is their real experience? Where is their filmography? What have they actually produced? What do other professionals have to say about their work…etc.
|Appendix: A few reactions from filmmakers whose work is being exhibited in Cambodia without their knowledge or permission, contributing to negative perceptions of Cambodia abroad.
Re: Screening of UNCLE BOONMEE
|Tue, Jun 7, 2011 at 11:11 AM
|To: Thania Dimitrakopoulou
Cc: Kick the Machine Office
|This is a problem with [foreign run VENUE in Cambodia]. On many occasions, it has screened the films without directors’ knowledge and consent. Even though it is a free screening, it allows the venue to advertise itself, to seek funds, and to facilitate the notion that copyright is a non-issue in the region. I found a rationalization that UNCLE BOOMEE is available on a pirate DVD for 2 USD — sad. It doesn’t justify another abuse of the film.
44/17 Ladprao 15, Jatujak, Bangkok 10900 Thailand
‘Hot Coffee’ Screening in Phnom Penh, Cambodia
|Sat, Feb 25, 2012 at 11:51 AM
From: maripol [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Friday, March 16, 2012 8:47 PM
To: CAMBOFEST, Cambodia Film Festival
Subject: Re: Hello NY Beat Films re: Downtown 81 in SE Asia
I could consider it but I need your help in finding the contact and name for that movie down the road as thats illigal . I am the producer and I can assure you that its a bootleg. We have 35 mm and dvd but I am a bit tired to waste my times chasing illigal viewing! Please go see the film and try to get me name and contact, I appreciate that you are going through regular channel!
Please give me a phone number
On Mar 16, 2012, at 8:29 AM, “CAMBOFEST, Cambodia Film Festival” <firstname.lastname@example.org
My name is Jason Rosette, a US producer based in SE Asia since 2005, working much of that time in Cambodia. I am also the co-organizer of a film festival in Cambodia called ‘CAMBOFEST’ (www.cambofest.com
), the first international film festival to take place in Cambodia since the end of the Khmer Rouge regime.
I noticed your title DOWNTOWN 81 is playing at a cinema venue here in the capital, Phnom Penh.
As mentioned, we run an international movie festival here and we may be interested in exhibiting some of your titles at future editions if we can reach a workable arrangement.
Kindly let us know what terms you would request for a potential screening at a future edition of CamboFest, or affiliated efforts.
Please keep in mind this is the developing world and the market here is not yet fully developed; consequently, we can’t pay normal developed-country screening fees, but some sliding scale or pro-bono deal would be welcome!
Thanks for your consideration, and All the Best
CAMERADO Movies and Media