Thai Film IndustryBy Bangkok Pundit Mar 09, 2008 12:00AM UTC
In an attempt to promote Thailand as a motion picture production hub for Asia, initiated by the former government of prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, the government is planning a Thai entertainment fair later this year, according Deputy Prime Minister and Commerce Minister Mingkwan Saengsuwan.
Stressing that Thailand’s entertainment business could still sustain growth, Mr. Mingkwan said the fair was expected to be held for about seven days in September.
Foreign film and music producers will be invited to participate in the fair so that business negotiations can be held with their Thai counterparts, enabling the Kingdom to become a movie production center in this region, he said.
Last year, more than Bt300 billion was generated from entertainment business in Thailand, said Mr. Mingkwan. The amount included over Bt27 billion from the film industry and music industry earnings of about Bt10 billion.
Bt168 billion was generated from the information technology business, which Mr. Mingkwan reportedly included in his assessment of entertainment business.
BP: Wise Kwai has some informed commentary on previous statements by Mingkwan. Via Wise Kwai is an op-ed in the Post by Kong Rithdee which looks at Thailand’s tentative moves to replicate the successful Korean movie industry. This quote is key:
A few years back, Korea appointed a novelist/movie director as its Culture Minister (his name is Lee Chang-Dong, and his latest film, Secret Sunshine, is a tour de force). Korea doesn’t practise censorship. And Koreans support their homegrown films and series with a passion. But here, our government still doesn’t believe in creative freedom. We practise censorship at movies, the primitive kind, and the seat at the Ministry of Culture is regarded as a Z-class position, with no one fighting to get it. A senior official at the ministry once said to Time magazine: “Nobody watches [art films] in this country. Thais only like comedy”.
BP: It does seem so far to go. However, while the government doesn’t believe in creative freedom Thailand does have a very good advertising industry and this has been allowed to proposer. There is certainly some creative freedom here (some would say the ads are better than the TV programs and I think is reflected in awards). From people I know in advertising circles a number of regional ads are filmed in Thailand or by Thai-based advertising firms elsewhere in the world. Thailand’s film industry doesn’t have to be Thai movies made by Thai directors with Thai-only crew for a Thai audience. A collaborative approach is probably Thailand’s strong point and there have been a number of directors and films where this approach has been adopted (eg. Last Life in the Universe), but to be more successful changes need to be made how the Culture Ministry and how Thai government agencies interact with the film industry.