寻找大一点的画布 IN SEARCH OF A BIGGER CANVAS – Peter Teo

我是从来没有跟任何公司签过约的。我的演艺生涯基本就是独立艺人的身份行走。那并不容易,不过我觉得我算做得不错了。如果你有兴趣的话:这是我走过的路,你看看吧。
首先你需要了解的是:你可以走的路是被你所在的市场的大小所主宰,这个要素比你是否有才华更重要。

在马来西亚这个小市场,你是逆流而上的。小的市场意味着你缺少机会。缺少机会你就成长得很慢。作品的数量对艺术家来说很重要。如果你三年只能拍出一部电影,而你的中国同行一年可以拍一部,五年后你还是一个新人,而他或她已经是一个老手了。唯一可以改变这个事实的,就是进入大的市场。你可以移居过去,或者在马来西亚做你的作品然后输出去。如果国语不是你作品的媒介语,输出外国更是明显的事实。不过呢,不管怎么做都是难啊。

基于个人的理由,我选择留在马来西亚。所以我尽力的将我的作品推出海外。我演艺生涯的前十年我都是在日本和韩国巡演。可以这样做,你特别需要运气。不过呢,你越努力的做,你会越幸运。很多人认为才华是艺人的一切。其实,才华虽然重要不过却不足以让你成功。努力是很关键的呢。记得,你的同行们也是很有才华的哩。所以,努力是成败的关键。既然出口我们的艺人是那么的重要,我不明白为什么我们的政府机构如此的漠视我们土生土长的才华。比如,FINAS并没有致力向海外推荐我们的艺人。希盟政府对这件事也没有任何远见和展望。

恰恰相反,所有的噪音都集中在拨款和施舍。当然资助年轻刚起步的电影人是很重要的,我却不同意官方拨款给已经成名了的电影人。我觉得不如将这些款项导入到税收优惠政策或者建立起出口管道。

当然可以取得资助是很好,不过你得接受的一个事实就是:作为艺术家你得为自己负责任。如果你尽在那里呻吟,你除了得到一个坏名声之外,什么也得不到。倒不如行动起来,因为空口不做什么都是假的。

这任务很困难,不过大家一起做就可能比较容易了。所以,请跟你的同行们互通信息互享资源,大家携手合作。相信我,一个人打拼你可能事倍功半;可是当大家一起来做你们的机会会翻倍。这不是在玩零和游戏。

除了音乐人的身份之外,我也属于那一代被称为马来西亚新浪潮导演的其中一员。有那么几年,我们在国际电影节上面辛苦的暂露头角。不过到了最后我们还是败下来了。原因虽然很复杂,简单来说可以归咎于我们的离散。我们得从中学习。

这个世代在国外寻找机会的艺人当中,数Bront Palarae 特别特出。他勇敢的在亚洲各个城市耕耘,他努力,有智慧,有行动。还有其他像他这样在行动耕耘的马来西亚艺术家,他们给了我们希望。

请谨记,马来西亚有很多的人才。有很多复杂的原因导致这些人才无法闪耀,不过更关键的是,他们没有信心和曝光的机会。在严厉竞争的世界里,你得有自信。

不管你是一个艺术家,还是对艺术有兴趣的人。你得了解,人们的认可培养信心。来自本土的认可可以筑起艺术家的自信,可是最快批评任何本土艺术家的人们就是我们自己人,而且往往是同行们。

我不是说不容许有善意及正面的批评,我们当然应该严谨的评论,这有别于不经大脑的恶意批评。这里的分别就是“意图”。让我告诉你一个故事:

有一次我受到我一位日本乐迷的邀请去看他镇上的一个乐队。这个乐队惨不忍听。我忍不住问这家伙为什么他会支持这么烂的乐队,他的回答令我反省。如果他们烂的时候没有人支持,那他们怎样变好?

你看,这就是我们和日本的差别。我们时常踩我们的艺术家来自我感觉良好。日本人也会批评自己的艺术家可是他们却带着正面的意图。这就是虽然日本的草根艺术圈子也像我们一样那么参差不齐,他们却有着国际水平的艺术圈而我们没有。

我有一次在东京和Tun Mahathir 讨论过这个问题,他当然是哈日的,不过我不觉得他了解国际水准的人才是需要本土的栽培的。或许他尝试过,然后灰心了。不管如何,我们还是得加油。
我说了这么多,主要还是:小市场当然有很多阻碍,不过才华和努力同样重要。智慧很重要不过你也得靠运气。同样关键的是,栽培艺术家需要整个社群的力量。

我们缺乏的就是这最后的关键。到处可见的是:我们因为觉得不重要,所以没有公共政策来培育年轻的艺术家。我们也不了解孕育世界级的艺术家需要的种种,我们以为世界级的艺术家是凭空诞生的。

最后,什么样的人民就有什么样的政府,同样的,什么样的人民就有什么样的艺术圈。就像任何的群体,它源自个体。所以,简而言之,你必备才华,努力,运气,是的,你也需要培育的。

祝你好运。

IN SEARCH OF A BIGGER CANVAS

I have spent almost the entirety of my career as an unsigned indie artist. It hasn’t been a walk in the park but I guess I’ve done pretty good. This was what my road looked like and, if you are interested, how you might traverse it…

The first thing to understand is that you path is almost entirely determined by the size of your market, even more than how good you are. In a small market like Malaysia. you fight uphill all the time. Small market means lack of opportunity.

Crucially, lack of opportunity also means you grow slower. Velocity of output is vital to any artist. If you made 1 film every 3 years compared to a peer in China who makes 1 film per year, you’d still be a newbie after 5 years while s/he’d already be a veteran.

The only way to overcome this is to tap into bigger markets. You can do this by moving to work in a bigger market, or stay in Malaysia and export to foreign markets. This is especially so if you don’t primarily work in BM, the biggest sub-market in Msia. Either way, it is hard.

Due to personal circumstances, I chose to remain in Malaysia. This means maximising every opportunity to play / exhibit my work offshore. As a result, the first decade of my career were largely spent on the road in Japan and Korea. You need to be kinda lucky to accomplish this.

Yet, the harder you work, the luckier you get. Most people think talent in an artist is everything. It isn’t. Truth is, talent is necessary but insufficient for success. Hard work is crucial. Remember, most of your peers are talented too. Thus hard work is the difference maker.

Given the importance of export markets to our artists, I’ve been baffled by the lack of support from our public institutions. FINAS, for instance, has done little to facilitate exports in the past. The PH govt is likewise showing no vision or leadership in this matter.

Rather, all the chatter has so far been about grants and handouts. While important to help young filmmakers get started, I see little need to fund established filmmakers through grants. Much better to divert funds to tax incentives and the setting up of export channels.

Either way, good though it would be to get help from public policy – it is important to accept that you are fundamentally on your own. If all you do is sit and moan, then you ain’t gonna accomplish much other than a reputation for moaning. It is better to act. Talk is cheap.

The task is difficult, but it is easier if you hunt as a group. So remember to share resources and contacts. Help each other. Trust me, work alone and you will likely not get out at all. Hunt as a group and your chances multiply by many fold. This is not a zero sum game.

Other than being a musician, I also belong to a generation of filmmakers known as “Malaysian New Wave”. For a few years, we beat the odds in the international film festival circuit. Yet In the end we failed. The reason is complex but came down to our failure to continue to hunt as a group. We must learn from this.

Of the current generation of artists working to establish offshore opportunities, Bront Palarae stands out. He ploughs the field all over Asia and shows no fear. He works hard, act smart and walks the talk. There are others like him. They are the hope.

Please remember that, despite everything, Malaysia is a talented land. The reason most of our talents have often been wasted is complex – but it is underlined often by a lack of confidence and exposure. You need self-belief to be out there where competition is fierce.

Whether you are an artist, or just an interested layman, you need to understand that confidence comes from validation. And the most basic source of arts validation comes from local support. Yet the quickest to damn Malaysian artists are Malaysians themselves, often fellow artists.

I am not saying there is no room for objective critique – of course we must be critical – but there is a difference between thoughtless bitchiness and critique – and the difference is: intention. Let me tell you a true story to illustrate my point…

I was once invited by a Japanese fan to watch his neighbourhood band. The band sucked to high heavens. But when asked why he supported a band that he knew to be terrible, his reply was revealing:

“If we don’t support them when they are shit, how can they get good?”

See, his reply is the difference between Japan and Malaysia. We thrash our own often for selfish validation. They criticise their own too but with positive intention. That’s why, despite having grassroot scenes as uneven as ours, they have a world class arts scene and we don’t.

I once discussed this with Tun Mahathir in Tokyo. He is of course a big admirer of Japan. But I am not sure he understood the importance of local support in nurturing world class artists. Perhaps he tried but was disappointed. Either way we must try harder at it.

I have taken long to get here, but my point is: there are many elements required to overcome the handicap of small markets. Talent is important but so is hard work. Smartness is important but so is luck. Equally crucial is ability to nurture artists as a community…

It is this last element that we are most missing. The evidence is everywhere. From lack of public policies that nurture young artists (as if they are unimportant), to lack of understanding of how world class artists are formed (as though they exist in a vacuum).

Ultimately, much as we deserve the government we have, we also deserve the arts we have. And as with everything that involves the collective, it really begins with the individual. So, in a nutshell, you must be talented, hardworking, lucky, and yes – nurturing too.

Good luck.

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