MB Subba

With projects either halted or postponed, the film industry is at a standstill, leaving most artists and technicians anxious about their future in the entertainment industry.

However, the Film Association of Bhutan (FAB) was lucky to have found alternative areas of economic engagement in their own field.

FAB’s executive director, Ngawang Tobgay, said that besides the Chik-Thuen programme, which is aired on BBS, FAB is filming about 25 short movies to be aired on BBS soon.

“We are making the short films for entertainment with gracious support from His Majesty,” he said.

He said the short films will be submitted to BBS for airing and that more such films will come in the future.

FAB is also making MTV (music television) to be aired on BBS. The MTV projects, he said, are engaging singers and musicians.

The FAB has a total registered membership of more than 500, including actors, directors, producers, dancers and technicians. The FAB executive director said that members were grateful to the Druk Gyalpo’s Relief Kidu.

“Like any other sector, FAB members were also directly affected as shooting of feature films came to a halt. The most affected were technical people,” Ngawang Tobgay said.

Members of FAB earn Nu 30,000 for a two-hour Chik-Thuen programme on BBS, according to the executive director. “The money is divided equally among the performers irrespective of seniority.”

The executive director said that Chik-Thuen performers who appeared to be new faces were also members of FAB. “We are mixing both popular and new faces in the programme for sustenance of the programme because we don’t know how long the Covid-19 pandemic will last,” he said.

To make best use of the Covid-19 situation, FAB has also proposed to the government for financial support for activities such as location hunting and data collection.

“For instance, we want to collect and keep proper data about how much time it takes us to reach Paro Taktshang for a shooting and how much it costs. We can provide such data when international film makers come to Bhutan,” he said.

Ngawang Tobgay said that although film permits were stopped there was no direction from authorities on whether shooting of feature films were restricted.

According to him, about eight films were on hold in terms of pre-production works such as location hunting and music recording due to Covid-19 pandemic. About five films that were made have been awaiting screening, he added.