Interview with CEO of Pinewood Studios, Malaysia


Michael Lake, veteran of the Australian and international film industry is now CEO of Pinewood Studios in Malaysia.

He tells us why Malaysia is one of the most attractive places for film production, what Asean needs to create a major film industry, 3D and other advances in film making…… and why interviewer Andrew Thomas should be cast in Skyfall sequel!


Andrew Thomas (Interviewer):
My guest is Mike Lake who is CEO of Pinewood Studios in Malaysia. I’m going to ask him about creativity in the film business and I’m also going to see if I can get a role in the sequel to Skyfall; so there’s a sub plot to this!
So Mike, you’ve built in Iskandar in Malaysia. For the benefit of those watching who may not know where Iskandar is, it’s 45 minutes from downtown Singapore. Where does the idea come from to build a Pinewood studio in Johor Bahru?

Mike Lake:
This was driven by the government. They wanted to build something in the industry. They see the creative industry, the film industry, as a future major industry for the country. So they did a lot of research and decided a film studio was the way to go and create a catalyst for the industry. Then they very smartly went out to Pinewood to get a brand to it.

You’ve been touring the world, literally, selling the opportunity of Pinewood.

Mike Lake:
There’s a lot of interest. One of the big things about this is it’s economics driven around the world, no matter where you go. The Malaysian government has just offered a very attractive 30% tax incentive to attract film production. It’s probably the most attractive in the world and that’s driving a lot of interest in the facility. And the facilities are world class.
But it’s very much about marketing Malaysia as a destination and Malaysia as a film friendly destination as well as the studios themselves.

If I talk a little about content and that’s because for so many clients these days content is the most crucial thing and that’s particularly driven by social.

Mike Lake:
The great thing about what we have today with the number of delivery platforms is that content can get out to a wider audience and the younger generation is used to receiving content on these platforms. As a second part to that it’s easier to make content now. So kids can go out and some very good short films have been made on an iphone or smartphone. So from that point of view it’s opened up the opportunities and the cost of creating content has come down to a certain degree because of the digital age.
But there’s still a great desire for people to go to the movies. This Thanksgiving in the US – record box office; Korea – box office records this year.
But a way of interacting, of doing things and in terms of working, of production, it’s a different business to when I started.

Let’s take Skyfall, so amazingly successful. When everyone is thinking content-wise what goes into Skyfall and the marketing of Skyfall, what are the teams and the process that takes place?

Mike Lake:
It comes from the beginning with the writer and the producers bringing the whole project to life. Writing is the key and it’s the most difficult thing. To find good scripts is a very very hard thing. One of the things you have to think about and a lot of people don’t when they’re writing scripts, is who’s it actually for?

When you look at the global success that the great film centres around the world have, what is it that Asean needs to create a film industry?

Mike Lake:
What we see is the opportunity here to create….in Europe they have the European Convention of Cinematographic Co-Production. So Europe becomes a community for film production. You can take a writer from Belgium, a DP from England, a cameraman from Italy and they all work together. Our goal is to recreate that in the Asean region.

What are the next big things in content that are coming through?

There’s no major change. As I’ve said 3D will become more common especially for the big spectacle films. Mad Max is being done, the 4th one, in Namibia, and the Avatars – Cameron is doing another 2 Avatars and they’re looking at Star Wars being in 3D. But other film makers will hold out for film. Chris Nolan will not shoot digital. Batman is shot on film. So there will be the old guard still there, but there will also be people driving advances.

Thank you so much for coming in and spending time with us.
And thank you for watching.

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