Taken from ‘Bungklang Bungkling’, ‘Film’, a column by I Wayan Juniartha, published in Bali Post, Sunday 17th July 2011. Translated by Putu Semiada.
The discussion is started with a question: Why are the Balinese keen to help foreigners when foreigners make films in Bali?.
“Because foreigners give us lots of money,” comments I Madé Mata Duitan (I Madé Money Oriented).
Everyone smiles. They quite understand that I Madé is a kind of money-oriented person. I Madé thinks that anything one does, it is always due to money.
“You may know that when an Indonesian makes a film in Bali, they don’t give much money, especially university students. They don’t have money to rent a place or to give donation to the locals. Sometimes they don’t even have money to pay for their own expenses. That’s why the Balinese always decline to help them.”
It’s totally different when foreigners make a film. Everything will be well-organized. They will do a long research and pay much more to the local resource persons; bringing huge amount of equipments and crews (lots of hotel rooms will be occupied); they will rent a lot of cars, and spaces for their equipments and parking. They “know well” how to deal with the locals: everyone will get their share, from pecalang (vigilantes), klian (village sub-unit head), to perbekel (village head); they will pay for locations where they do shootings.
“And they pay with dollars. One will always be happy when paid in dollars.”
“You know, when Julia Roberts and the Hollywood group made the film in Ubud, there was a fight between two villages on the donation provided by the Hollywood group.”
“There were lots of policemen and local vigilantes (pecalang). They closed the access to the shooting location. It seemed that the film company, local officials, vigilantes and the police “could understand” one another.”
“If the local make a film, the price they will pay is in local currency. They come here and there asking for help, usually for free. Asking for help for once is still fine, but the problem is that they often ask for help for several times for free. And nobody can accept this.”
Nowadays there is no lunch for free in Bali. One even put some money in a small offering (canang).
“The other reason is that if foreigners make films, it will a good promotion for Bali tourism as it will be seen by people overseas and it will make more people come to Bali,” says I Ketut Pramuwisata (I Ketut Tourist Guide).
Everyone nods. What I Ketut says makes sense because if the locals make a film, it will be seen by the locals only. And the fact is that most of the locals prefer seeing cinetrons and gossip programs, instead.
“Another reason is that the Balinese enjoy serving foreigners. It’s a kind of “tourism slave mentality”. Whatever a tourist asks for, the Balinese will be always ready to offer; lands, prostitutes, sacred ceremonies, anything,” adds I Ketut.
It seems that the Balinese prefer to ‘serve’ tourists or westerners than domestic tourists or locals. Tourists or westerners bring much more money and the Balinese like to serve people with more money.