Why do filmmakers complain about budgets? All we care about is on TikTok these days

The Skinny | No 112 – Malta Film Awards

What are we skinning? The Malta Film Commission’s inaugural edition of the Malta Film Awards, set to take place on 29 January, 2022.

Why are we skinning it? Because a number of prominent local film and TV producers – among other workers in the film industry – have chosen to boycott the €400,000 event, finding it to be a slap in the face when those funds could easily have been allocated to boosting the budgets of local filmmakers, something which is sorely needed.

But isn’t it the Malta Film Commission’s prerogative to choose to do what they want with their money? Yes and no.

It was a simple question. Well yes, the MFC may choose to disburse of its funds in whatever way it sees fit, as it were. But it can’t expect no backlash when it makes choices that actively harm its main interest group while at the same time professing to celebrate their achievements.

You’re gonna have to unpack that a little bit. Look, this is clearly a PR stunt to drum up some feelgood vibes after the pandemic, and to declare the MFC as a key national player. An uninterested general public may find something in the glitz – stakeholders in the film industry, on the other hand, will just find it to be something of an affront.

But isn’t it sort of accepted by all and sundry that PR stunts are an essential lifeblood for any institution these days? Yes, but not when your film fund is capped at 600,000 EUR, and you then choose to dish out €400,000 on an awards ceremony in honour of an indigenous film industry that doesn’t *quite* exist yet (partly due to the fact that, well, indigenous filmmakers have just €600,000 a year to fight over).

I’ve just seen that the producers’ stunt has yielded some results. Yes, the MFC has chosen to listen to their demands, finally.

That’s good, no? It’s better than the worst-case scenario, certainly. But the fact that they thought the Awards were a good idea in the first place, and that they chose to listen to their ‘constituency’ only after they were publicly embarrassed in the media, speaks volumes.

Now that the boycotting producers have missed their submission deadline to the Awards anyway, who’s left? Probably a bunch of government-friendly PR companies.

The film commission doesn’t seem to care much about films. It certainly seems intent on proving that assertion, self-destructive as that may seem.

Do say: “Exemplary workers and stakeholders within the Maltese film industry certainly deserve recognition for their hard work in an industry which is still emerging. But the Malta Film Commission splurging out on an expensive pageant while local filmmakers struggle to make films on a shoestring budget is a really, really, bad look.”

Don’t say: “Why do filmmakers keep complaining about budgets? Isn’t everything we care about on TikTok these days anyway?”