With Pinewood Iskandar Malaysia Studios due to open in a year, the new director general of Malaysia's film development org Finas is already planning to transform the Southeast Asian nation into a destination for filmmakers worldwide, aiming to bring in $1 billion a year and create some 10,000 jobs by 2020.
Key to Mohd Naguib Razak's plans, the studio is being developed as part of a strategic agreement between the U.K.'s Pinewood studios and the Malaysian government's investment holding arm, Khazanah Nasional Berhad.
The complex will have 100,000 square feet of filming stages and 24,000 square feet of TV studios, offices, workshops and post facilities. "Pinewood Studios will be a game-changer," Razak said. "We need to make sure all the infrastructure is in place."
Among other tools at Razak's disposal are co-production pacts with other countries in south-east Asia, as well as further afield.
"The government gives me a mandate to see where our ecosystem needs adjustment or recalibration," said Razak, a documentary- maker and producer who started at Finas in September. "In Malaysia we have had economic transformation; now there is recognition that content can bring the nation forward."
Malaysia has no co-production agreements as yet, but Razak said talks are at an advanced stage with Screen Australia, and he hoped a deal would be announced early this year.
Finas is also in continued discussions with the Media Development Authority in Singapore, Razak said, adding that he is talking with the U.K. and France about making Malaysia a one-stop center for foreign producers.
Incentives are being discussed. "We have such diversity, but we need to play catch-up on incentives," Ruzak said. "They should be in place by 2013."