I would like to respond to Malcolm Scerri Ferrante's article in The Times concerning the general situation in which the local film servicing industry finds itself (It Is Now Time For Action, February 24).
Mr Scerri Ferrante was right when he said that filming two productions at the same time usually means dividing the team across both and complementing substantially with foreigners and/or having to make do with glorified assistants who must be constantly supervised if not micro-managed. Few producers are comfortable with these situations. Also, having only one person fully qualified in a particular position is an unhealthy situation like in any market.
It's a terrible situation at the moment and exacerbated by crew conditions, in my opinion. Information is not free flowing for the local crew and there is no system set up to help quality, enthusiastic crew be trained in the industry and, most importantly, stay in the industry. There must be systems set up to encourage trained professionals to stick to the local scene - this could only help the industry we love to grow from strength to strength, rather than to take on, as Mr Scerri Ferrante mentioned, people who have never worked before in higher positions and, thus, weakening the overall web. A production team is only as strong as its weakest crew member; on a set and in the office everyone relies on each other. One weak link and it collapses. Training and further education for people who want to make a career out of this is essential to develop the industry, especially for those who don't just want it to be an "in between" job (i.e. in between two full-time jobs).
The setting up of an FDO would help immensely. Whether the government will take up Mr Scerri Ferrante's suggestion or not waits to be seen. However, I do think there must be a reference point for crew and managers to access and help them with these problems. At the moment the film commission provides invaluable help in this area but their workload is immense and does not cover crew issues. In addition, certain bureaucratic rules hamper the overall process, wasting the precious little time which could go into ensuring the film is shot to budget and on time.
In summary, change must occur for development to happen. One final point is that there must be more teamwork between people who actually work in the industry. Sadly, it seems, most have not realised that the only way forward for the local industry is for all of us to work as a team, helping each other out to ensure this sector grows from strength to strength. We must pull the same rope for the one single cause. Failure to do this will be our undoing. But without the adequate support structures in place, this will be made more difficult.
There must be a refocusing of attention towards what can make the servicing industry a strong, resilient one in which crew are respected and encouraged to produce their best work.