FINAS Provided 30% Financial Assistance For 'The Mandalorian'. Here's Why It Matters
The agency is encouraging foreign production companies to use Malaysian facilities and labour.
The Mandalorian Season 2 has dropped on Disney+ and with it also dropped the jaws of some Malaysians who spotted the National Film Development Corporation Malaysia's (FINAS) logo in the end credit
The message that FINAS gave "financial assistance" in the form of a "30% cash rebate" to The Mandalorian had many asking questions
Social media users on Twitter and Reddit wondered the need for FINAS to sponsor a Star Wars franchise, given the fact that the show was not even produced in the country.
It also prompted others to question if the show was given the financial assistance from FINAS like The Wolf of Wall Street received from Riza Aziz, the producer who was caught up in the 1MDB scandal.
Some also rued the fact that while Malaysia "contributed" to The Mandalorian, we cannot legally watch the series in the country due to Disney+ not being available here.
So what's going on here?
FINAS has a subsidy programme called Film In Malaysia Incentive (FIMI) since 2013.
Under FIMI, the central government agency offers foreign and domestic film companies a subsidy for both film production and post-production work if they fulfil two criteria.
To qualify, foreign film production companies must use Malaysia for location filming and/ or post-production and, co-production with a Malaysian film producer (majority foreign-owned).
Additionally, there's also a minimum requirement in terms of expenditure.
The cost of film production including post-production must be at least RM5 million or RM1.5 million if a foreign film company only wishes to do post-production here.
For television series, however, they must spend a minimum of RM385,000 per hour.
What it means is that through this FIMI subsidy incentive, FINAS encourages foreign production houses, in this case, Lucasfilm among others, to use Malaysian facilities and labour.
FINAS didn't pay anyone. Instead, the agency simply provided a cash rebate for using local talent.
The local facility, in this case, is Base FX
It's visual effects and animation company that is headquartered in Beijing with a studio in Kuala Lumpur.
The Emmy Award-winning studio did the post-production work for The Mandalorian.
It's not the first instance where Base FX qualified for the incentive
As first reported by PR Newswire, the studio also worked on 6 Underground, the action/thriller film that was produced by Netflix and directed by Michael Bay, starring Ryan Reynolds.
According to Base FX's holding company's chief executive officer, 6 Underground was "the first major project" in the KL studio that allowed them to build "a talented local creative team and an experienced local management team".
"Base will continue to invest in local Malaysian talent," he told PR Newswire last month.
To conclude, FIMI will help develop Malaysia into an international film hub that offers local visual effect and post-production services
Last month, in a statement to New Straits Times, Finas CEO Ahmad Idham Ahmad Nadzri said that the incentive was also designed to encourage the development of the creative industry in Malaysia.
"With this incentive, international films will be able to invest in developing their productions in Malaysia. FINAS will provide a 30% cash rebate for expenses incurred in Malaysia. Via FIMI, the cost of productions and post-production work is comparable to neighbouring countries, which will result in more job opportunities for the Malaysian creative industry," he said.