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Tuesday, June 21, 2005

So you wanna be a filmmaker in Singapore

A little heads-up for wannabe filmmakers/producers/professional videographers in Singapore: take note of the Films Act (Chapter 107). (Thanks to Singapore Critic for bringing this subject up.) I'm not going to argue about whether it's arcane or unnecessary or whatever, it's the law and we (law-abiding) citizens jolly well have to follow it. (Aargh, must... resist... writing... about.... conspiracies...)

Some relevant portions
Section 2: Interpretation
  1. "film" means —
    1. any cinematograph film;
    2. any video recording, including a video recording that is designed for use wholly or principally as a game;
    3. any other material record or thing on which is recorded or stored for immediate or future retrieval any information that, by the use of any computer or electronic device, is capable of being reproduced or displayed as wholly or partly visual moving pictures
    and includes any part of a film, and any copy or part of a copy of the whole or any part of a film;
So far, nothing too alarming. It's just a standard definition of what "film" is. Note to game developers: video in games apparently fall under this Act.
Section 6: Licence for carrying on business of importing, making, distributing or exhibiting films
  1. No person —
    1. shall carry on any business, whether or not the business is carried on for profit, of importing, making, distributing or exhibiting films unless he is in possession of a valid licence; or
    2. being the owner or occupier of any place shall allow the place to be used by or let the place or otherwise make the place available to, any person who is not the holder of a valid licence for the purpose of carrying on the business of importing, making, distributing or exhibiting films.
Hmm, a licence, eh? Where/how do I get one? Searching the government's websites turned up nothing.
Section 12: Films made in Singapore to be deposited in approved warehouse
  1. The owner of any film made in Singapore shall, within 7 days after the making of the film, deposit the film in a warehouse approved for this purpose by the Board.
Aye carumba! Does this mean I have to store all of the wedding videos that I've done for money?
Section 14: Submission of films for censorship
  1. Every film in the possession of any person shall be submitted to the Board without any alteration or excision for the purpose of censorship at the owner’s risk and expense and at such time and place as the Board may appoint.
Wow, really. I wonder how many wedding videos the Board of Film Censors (BFC) has to go through...
Section 21: Penalty for possession, exhibition or distribution of uncensored films
  1. Any person who —
    1. has in his possession;
    2. exhibits or distributes; or
    3. reproduces,
    any film without a valid certificate, approving the exhibition of the film, shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction...
Is this a way of saying "Please remember to submit your wedding videos to the BFC for censorship/classification/certification"?
Section 29: Offences involving dealings in obscene films
  1. Any person who makes or reproduces any obscene film (whether or not for the purposes of exhibition or distribution to any other person), knowing or having reasonable cause to believe the film to be obscene shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction...
This goes out to all the horny couples who make personal videos, whether with a video camera or a modern handphone for personal enjoyment (that includes you guys who post such videos on websites, like YOU'RE BREAKING THE LAW!!!

Note the wording of the law: it disregards whether you wanted to keep it for your eyes only. Yes, sex is a marvelous, beautiful act of nature, but as soon as you put it down on celluloid (or bytes, as the case may be) in Singapore, you're just another porn-peddling pervert who should be publicly humiliated and fined or locked up.
Section 40: Exemptions
  1. This Act shall not apply to —
    1. any film sponsored by the Government;
    2. any film, not being an obscene film or a party political film or any feature, commercial, documentary or overseas television serial film, which is made by an individual and is not intended for distribution or public exhibition; and
    3. any film reproduced from local television programmes and is not intended for distribution or public exhibition.
Save my butt time: With immediate effect, all previous and subsequent videos/films, no matter what their subject matters are, fall under the non-profit / I-made-them-for-friends-or-family-on-a-personal-level-and-received-tokens-of-appreciation category, unless explicitly stated in the video/film itself. If the recipient of my video/film distributes it publicly, I hereby state that that act was NOT my intention and I should not be liable under this Act (though, of course, I'd need a lawyer to verify/guarantee that).

Public Service Announcement
  • To members of the public who are in possession of their own wedding/birthday/special occasion videos/films: remember not to distribute them publicly, otherwise you'll be flouting the law.
  • To videographers who record weddings/birthdays/special occasions on a professional (not personal) basis: get a licence and submit your works to the BFC.
  • To horny couples: don't record your sexual acts. Seriously.
Glad I cleared that up before embarking on anything major.


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NARDAC said...

You tow the line there buddy. Instead of having anything reasonable or critical to say about a law that is obviously working against your creative freedom, if you have any, you just get scared and run for cover... basically this post was just a mule for promoting gov't idiocy.

Furthermore, I could practically see you jumping with glee over the ban of "homemade sex films." Whatever goes on between two people is their business, and the gov't, and people like you, have no right to say whether it's a good idea or not.

I'm not asking you to fight anyone's battle, though it soon will be yours, but a little bit of critical thinking could do you a world of good.

For heaven's sakes, Sri Lanka is making better film right now than Singapore, and they don't censor, and they win prizes.

Yuhui said...

Until/Unless I become a person of influence, I shall have to tow (toe?) the line.

NARDAC said...

I don't expect you to do any differently. I just expect you to voice your dissent. After all, it's a blog.

and yes, it's toe the line...

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