Opinion

I need money… just not a lot of it

Zan Azlee

Zan Azlee is a documentary filmmaker, journalist, writer, New Media practitioner and lecturer. He runs Fat Bidin Media www.fatbidin.com

JAN 13 — Recently, someone I know was playing with my daughter Athena. My baby looked like she was having a good time, smiling and coo-ing.

Then that someone actually said, “Athena, you’re going to grow up to be a millionaire, aren’t you little girl?”

Oh, can you imagine my horror!

Why are people so obsessed with making money? No matter how hard I try to understand this, my simple mind just really can’t.

I definitely understand why we need money and, I need it to. What I don’t understand is how certain people want to make A LOT of it, and make it their life obsession too.

I run my small little media company that does my small little passion projects, and people always ask me if I can "make money" by doing this.

I tell them that I’m not interested in making money. All I want to do is be happy doing what I like doing and just make a living out of it.

These people will smile and pretend to understand, but I can see it in their faces. They really look all perplexed and confused.

I like working in the media and that’s the only reason I do it. And all I can really ask for is the ability to do it for as long as I can and continue to be happy doing it.

I often meet people in the industry who are trying to make a quick buck. They ask me for advice on how to write proposals and budgets to send to broadcasters or clients.

They will ask me how much percentage I mark up, if I’m truthful in my budget presentations or if I’m transparent in my sponsorship and advertising income.

I tell them that I’m very transparent and that my only objective when I sell my projects is to have money to fund it. And that is the honest to goodness truth.

Then there are also those who ask me why I don’t apply for the numerous grants offered by the government to content creators because it's just easy money.

In fact, many of them even inflate their budgets to actually make a huge profit margin from the grants and actually don’t really bother with the project once it’s completed.

(These same people will suddenly be driving brand new luxury cars too!)

It’s not that I don’t want grants to help me to carry out my projects, it’s just that I couldn’t be bothered with the hassle and red tape of applying.

(If only the grant application process in Malaysia was simpler. Or better still, if someone could do it for me!)

And if these broadcasters or clients want to take me for a ride and take advantage of me for cheap content, then so be it too.

Naïve and a sucker I am, I guess. Oh well, if that’s how these people want to perceive me, then so be it.

I’m happy as long as I have enough money to fund my projects and a little bit of a fee for myself so I can pay the bills and feed my daughter.

And, that’s what I want to teach my little Athena too. I want her to realise that money isn’t the be all and end all in life.

I want her to be happy with whatever her passion in life is and understand that being happy and content will pay for itself.

Don’t get me wrong. As I have mentioned earlier, everyone needs money, including me. I just don’t think I need a lot of it. I just need enough.

At the end of it all, I just need to go home every day after a day’s worth of writing and making documentaries, bring little Athena for a swim in the pool and hear her squeal with joy to make me feel like a million bucks!

* The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.

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