Review: The Great Gastby

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I’m sure everyone is raving about the latest summer blockbuster – The Great Gatsby. Truth be told, I never intended to watch this movie until a friend of mine tweeted that it’s worth crying for. I love movies that make me cry. They make me feel human. Yes, I’m not shy of wearing my heart on my sleeve.

Through out the movie, I had questions that needed answering, but I silenced them out and sat till the end. This is one of the lucky movies I’ve watched before reading the book. I really want to read the book now that I’m done reading Dan Brown’s Inferno – of which I will discuss on another day.

As much as I would love to do a detailed analysis of the film just as how I wrote my Son of Babylon paper two years back, I don’t think it’ll be wise to do so now. I hate giving out spoilers so I shall give it a bit more time.

On a serious note, I think Gatsby is my new ideal man (minus his shenanigans). Move over Darcy!

 

A Date with Patrick J. Adams

I don’t post much here but if you are a friend on Facebook, or following me on Twitter, you would probably know I’m a huge Suits fan. New York, law, witty jokes, dashing actors and actresses, and particularly my kind of lead actor – what there not to love?

Yesterday, I got invited to a private party at the Royal Room Pan Pacific for a chance get up close and (umm, too) personal with Patrick J. Adams, aka Mike Ross. He’s exactly my type of guy – tall, skinny, sharp features and awkward. Yes, awkward. I love awkward guys. Heh.

Enjoy the pictures! Just don’t kill me yet.

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First red carpet event for me! Haha of course I’m just a fan girl hogging the red carpet. Not in a position to be there without a free pass lol.

ImageLook at how gorgeous Patrick J Adams is!

ImageStill melting…

ImageAs much as I want Patrick to myself, I must admit Troian and Patrick look really good together.

ImageShe was wearing heels but I bet we’re the same height.

ImageHEHEHEHEHEHHE look at my gushing face!

ImageAsked them to smile for the camera and they gave me this! Hehe

And so with that, my birthday wish came true. Also, I’m thinking that if teaching doesn’t work out, I wouldn’t mind doing Public Relations. So many new friends made yesterday!

The Dilemma of the Dreamer

Without even realising, October has come and passed, leaving us to rejoice in the last two months of the year. 2010 has been too fast for my liking. I guess it’s true when people tell me that once you enter uni life, the clock ticks like there’s no tomorrow.

This semester has been exciting for me. My three-day week on campus has allowed me to spend my time doing things I would rather do other than studying – because seriously, I think I’m starting to get allergic to examinations – but of course, it leaves me guilty of not trying to pull up my grades, though I know I should really be doing that. Nevertheless, modules this semester were interesting, still is I think, and lecturers could not have been more helpful. Sharmee’s Best Lecturer Award of 2010 goes to Prof Edna Lim who heads TS2238/SSA2218: Singapore Film – Performance of Identity. Awesome module, great group mates and the most exciting assignment ever – making our own short film – what more could I ask for?

Apart from school, I’ve been involved in a few productions that I wish I had put more effort in. Limited resources, so I can’t really blame myself, can I? I’m not trained in writing, filmmaking, or even a qualified production assistant, but I’m a keen learner. I have a dream, and inshallah, if all goes well, I’ll be studying to be a filmmaker.

Speaking of dreams, having written a few scripts this year and seeing them in the making, I realised the difficulty in accepting reality when you have a choice of creating the imagined. When we dream or idealise of another world, we tend to want them to come true. But seeing a dream come true through a medium that is artificial, that’s not ideal. As a writer, I’m torn between writing the truth and the constructed imagined. When I write the truth, it would force me to write only based on what I have experience. When I write the imagined, however, I would want to experience it despite knowing that it would never come true.

This is what I call, The Dilemma of the Dreamer.

There is perhaps no solution for this dilemma, but there is a prevention. I faced the dilemma once, so I stopped having high hopes on the people around me so that I know what I imagine will remain an imagination. Or rather, an illusion. I can’t pretend I have a perfect family when I know I don’t; I can’t pretend I’m the most sought-after girl when I know I’m not and I can’t pretend I’m a success when I don’t even know what success means.

For now, I’ll go back to loving myself so I’ll be happy. This one’s for you, RP. Happy Fifth Month together.

SMFS: Purnama 2 Finale (17 October 2009)

A week has passed and so did Purnama 2. From rushing for the completion of my Rikyu essay to spending an hour on make up, the Saturday of 17 October was certainly a night to remember. Apart from the rumours running around like wildfire and failed red carpet glamour, Purnama was a huge success.

The Singapore Malay Film Society (SMFS) team arrived early to set up and prepare the necessary items needed for the night. We had a registration table at the 5th level of The Cathay, complete with flowers courtesy of Liz Fleur, programme booklets, tickets and of course, the pretty ladies of SMFS to serve the guests. Reception went pretty well, I must say. 120 seats were filled up, including the guests SMFS invited. We had the honour of hosting Purnama 2 to the J.A. Halim family, Cikgu Yusnor Ef, judges Lim Yu Beng and Sanif Olek. Even Singapore Director Tan Pin Pin dropped by to watch the screenings!

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One of the guests signing the guest book.

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Even Mr X-Factor Effandi Mohamed came! Read about Effandi’s adventure as a visual effects artist at Dneg here.

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This is not staged, I was genuinely ushering the guests over to the other door.

Watching the films, as usual, gave me chills over my spine – in a good way that is. Everytime I watch a local film production, I say to myself, “Heck this is awesome!” If you were sitting next to me in the cinema, you’d probably notice my mouth drooling over the film. Like literally, because jaw just drops each time I watch something that transfixed my eyes. In Malay terms, my mulut selalu ternganga. I’ll post a review of the films in another entry, because I just have too many things about them. OH and I watched Shingoporu Monogatari for the second time! And I met Hafidz again! Hee hee!

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Pretty plaques for the awardees!

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Among those present – Lim Yu Beng, Rafaat Hamzah and Cikgu Yusnor Ef

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If Amalia Yunus were start a whole new series of children show, I want to be part of it! She’s a really bubbly character and her love for children led her to winning the Most Promising Director Award.

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Special Mention Awardees: Ghazi Al-Qudcy (left) and Ezzam Rahman (right). But hey, they’re no stranger to local film screenings man! Read more about them here.

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Special Mention Awardee: Hafidz Senor. If you haven’t read my interview with Hafidz, then read it here.

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Wan citing his reasons for choosing a Chinese actor to play the part of a Japanese soldier, when at the same time, using English and Australian actors to play the part of British and Australian soldiers respectively.

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Yazid aka Farid came down for Purnama 2 as well!

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Isnor giving away the token of appreciation to Cikgu Yusnor Ef.

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Awardees with Cikgu Yusnor Ef.

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A film screening is not complete without a photo-taking session!

For a film festival that is only in its second year run, Purnama 2 is certainly a motivation for us to continue our efforts in bringing back Malay films to the silver screens. Our efforts may be small, but we’ll get to our dreams someday. For now, it is important that we have faith in our community to produce more films, be it short or feature films, so that we can say Malay films in Singapore still exist.

Insyallah.

SMFS: KL Trippin’ with the Oldies

Do not be fooled by the title of this post. When I say ‘oldies’, I meant veterans, not the old young people I went with. Last month, a few of us from the Singapore Malay Film Society (SMFS) went on a road trip to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Our main objective of crossing the Causeway for the weekend was to meet up with the veterans of Studio Jalan Ampas – Dato’ Aziz Sattar and Tan Sri Jins Shamsudin – to find out the 5Ws and 1H of working with the greatest Malay entertainer ever, the late Tan Sri P. Ramlee. We also wanted to know how it was like being in the Singapore film industry in its heyday.

Now I know many of you are mourning over the death of Michael Jackson. I am sad too, but even sadder that I did not get to live in the era P.Ramlee’s music. It seems that talented people leave the world even before they are done with their dream.

Oh well, the good die young, aye?

Anyways, on the first day, the five of us caught up with Anwardi Jamil, and his producer friend, Tom Ali, at Lotus, a 1-mintute walk from our PNB Darby Park Aparment. We talked about the film industry in Malaysia and Singapore, as well as how we can further improve the linkage between the two countries’ film industry. It’s not everyday that you get to meet industry insiders who have done large scale production for television and the big screen – well, at least for me. Since I was with the abang-abang of SMFS, they were not as jakun as I was. Or perhaps they were hiding the jakunness inside.

After lunch with Anwardi Jamil and Tom Ali, we headed back to our apartment for our midday prayers. Anwardi Jamil met us again and drove us to Finas (Perbadanan Kemajuan Filem Nasional Malaysia), the equivelent of Singapore Film Commision (SFC). Over at Finas, we explored the grounds and talked to a few people we met along the way.

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Isnor (Founder) and Suffian (Co-Founder) pointing at P. Ramlee and Jins Shamsudin’s identity cards

One of them is Isazaly Isa, an Apple Certified Trainer who conducts workshops at Finas. He is also an editor by profession. Surprise surprise, this young man is a Singaporean! Perhaps the most significant of his works is for Harman Hassan’s Road to Mecca (2008) as an Executive Producer. Read Isazaly’ Isa’s techie blog here.

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Isazaly Isa showing us around the Soundmix Studio

Bumping into Isazaly at Finas was a blessing. Why do you ask? Because we got a guided tour around the new Dolby Digital Soundmix Studio in Finas! Now for you filmmaking noobs newbies, this is where you the post-production for audio is done! There’s a foley studio – a studio where you get the sound effects done. I really cannnot say what I saw in words because…

I WAS TOO JAKUN AND I HAVE NO IDEA OF HOW THE SYSTEM WORKS!

So I’m a newbie like you too. Bak kata pepatah Tok Isnor kiter, biar pandai, jangan pandai-pandai  (don’t act clever). So I shall leave you guys, my beloved readers, to google ‘foley studio’ and let Wikipedia do the talking, aight?

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FINAS Foley Studio – Art trying to do something

We proceeded back to our apartment to rest and wash up since Anwardi Jamil decided to bring us out for a night of fun after dinner. Being the only girl of the entourage, I was scared for my life was hoping for entertainment that I could enjoy too. And I did enjoy myself!

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All of us with Hasnul and his friend.

We met up with Hasnul Rahmat, another Singaporean who shifted over to the other side of the Causeway to pursue their love for the arts. Since its an open secret, I’ll tell you anyways. I’ve had a crush on this fella since forever, so naturally, I was super excited to meet Hasnul. Thankfully, I’m not one of those who cry and faint upon seeing their celebrity crushes.

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Hasnul and myself

We talked about film, history and film history. It was certainly an eye opener, having a conversation with Hasnul. I may have gotten the rejection letter by NTU Communication Studies, curse you dean of admissions! but I realised I can still do films even as I’m doing History! Pfft! Who needs a degree to do films?

So the night ended early cause we were scheduled to meet Tan Sri Jins Shamsudin at 10am the next morning. I was scared, excited, nervous – feelings all jumbled up together. And thanks to Isnor, who said it was already 9.45am when I woke up at 8am and asked for the time.

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One of the many old film cameras at Tan Sri Jins Shamsudin’s office

We talked for an hour and a half before exploring his storerooms where he had props from old movies, some of them include the old film camera above, as well as props from the movie Ali Setan. It was fun listening to his stories, it felt like listening to a grandfather telling stories of the war.

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Group photo!

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Tan Sri Jins Shamsudin and myself

The same afternoon, we headed back to our apartment cause we scheduled with Dato’ Aziz Sattar  to meet us there. We thought it be good to have the meeting away from the public eyes, but Dato’ thought otherwise. He wanted to eat thosai from Lotus, the 24 hour coffee shop near our apartment, so we headed there instead. The old man told us jokes, some of which reminded me of the Bujang Lapok series he acted with P. Ramlee and S. Shamsudin. A wonderful character to talk to, Dato’ Aziz Sattar is.

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Dato’ Aziz Sattar and his wife

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Group photo again!

So the remnants of our trip was shopping and Carl’s Junior. I totally forgot to eat Subway. Nonetheless, it was a good meal. And of course, we dropped by Pustaka Peringatan P. Ramlee before departure off at Pasar Rakyat. Oh and this was P. Ramlee’s house, by the way.

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Last stop: Pustaka Peringatan P. Ramlee

That’s all from us at the Singapore Malay Film Society! Till we meet on a new adventure again, aye?

Sang Pemimpi: A Sequel to Laskar Pelangi

I used to hate Indonesian films. Yes, hate is a strong word, but I really did. That was until I watched Laskar Pelangi and fell in love.

I fell in love with Gunnar Nimpuno’s cinematography, Riri Riza’s direction and the cute little boys from Laskar Pelangi. Now, they’re shooting the sequel to Laskar Pelangi – Sang Pemimpi.

One of my students, Dhimas, recommended me to read the books instead of watching the films. My first love is books, so I shall hunt Andrea Hirata’s series tomorrow at Johor and read them before the release of Sang Mimpi. I know it might cause harm to my review of the film, but essentially, a filmmaker – even an amateur – must read to widen her knowledge.

Here are some of the shots I got off Sang Mimpi’s Facebook fan page. Oh and they just started shooting two days ago!

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I love this shot.

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Guru yang kelihatan amat garang. I cannot be that kind of teacher.

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A good way to punish students.

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Priceless.

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Scenes like these makes me wanna go back to school.

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He kinda looks like Dato’ Rahim Razali. Fierce.

The release date is 17 December 2009, well, in Indonesia that is. To the crew of Sang Mimpi, please tell Riri Riza that I am a big fan and I wanna catch the premeire of the film although I am far away in Singapore.

I might as well fly off to the premeire for a short getaway, eh? Hmmm….

Film Review: Laskar Pelangi

I’ve been wanting to watch this film since forever, but unfortunately, our local cinemas decided not to screen it over a longer period of time. So when I was shopping at Geylang (Joo Chiat) two weeks ago, I was quite surprised to see the VCD at Muzika Records! I grabbed one copy, took out a 10 dollar note and immediately paid without any second thoughts.

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Synopsis:

A small school in the countryside is on the verge of being shut down when enrollment falls due to the emergence of a rival school in the area. Without a complete class of ten students, the school would have to face its fate. Fortunately, the last student arrives at the eleventh hour, hence allowing the school to continue operations.

Nevertheless, the school faces all sorts of problems as time goes on. The students live in poverty, making use of whatever nature allows them to study. When the school faces a shortage of funds and students insist on participating in the local carnival, the class puts up a  performance in a way arts critics would applaud.

What I like about Laskar Pelangi is the subtlties and impactful dialogues that will forever be etched in your mind. When asked why she does not want to accept a marriage proposal from a rich businessman, Ibu Muslimah simply said, “Mimpiku bukan untuk menjadi isteri saudagar, mimpiku ialah untuk menjadi guru!” The English translation would simply mean “My dream is not to be a businessman’s wife, my dream is to be an educator!”

Apart from that, the class has a plethora of characters just like any class would have. I couldn’t quite catch the character’s names though. One boy has a superb ability of mental calculations and knows a lot about world events because he saves his daily pocket money to purchase newspapers to read. Another goes around the neighbourhood with a broken down radio that needs to be shaken up before used. He loves singing and dancing and anything related to the arts. And of course, there’s the misfit – a boy who’s stuck in the middle and just goes with the flow of his peers.

This is a truly inspiring film – because it has made think about my current status of being a substitute teacher. Perhaps, when I’ve gotten bored of filmmaking in the future, I’d probably come back to teaching. As for now, I’m happy where I am.

SMFS: Interview with SIFF Short Film Finalist – Hafidz Senor

Last Sunday, I managed to catch the re-run of the Singapore International Film Festival (SIFF)  Short Film Finalists at the Substation. Remember when I said I’d catch a few films from April’s SIFF? They ran out of tickets. So I was fortunate to be informed by BK from the Substation about the re-run!

I caught up with one of the finalists, Hafidz Senor, 23 years old, the director of SHINGAPORU MONOGATARI. He enjoys water sports, hanging out with family and friends, as well as going to rock concerts.

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1. When your film was screened, there was an eerie air of silence. Why did you decide on a silent film?

When I was editing my film I felt that it would be better for my film to be silent. If I added my grandfather’s voice and ambient sounds I felt it would be too overbearing for the audience. As the black and white images are already strong itself, I guess the less-is-more approach would be better. When the film is silent, I believe people will be more focused reading the subtitles.

Yeah you’re right about this eerie air of silence. It’s kinda strange too for me watching it. War means terror and suffering, to think about past wars I guess its eerie and sad.

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2. The visuals you portrayed are a stark contrast to the story. From I can see, it was done in a way such that the modernity of Singapore contradicts the narrative of the story. Why?

The film was for a school assignment. I only had to three weeks to finish it. And I did not have access to archive war footage of Singapore during the war. So I planned the visuals in a way that it would parallel what my grandfather mentioned. Some of the images are the exact locations of where this events happened. Places like City Hall, Fort Siloso, Changi Beach and YMCA.

Its a different effect when you juxtapose an old narrative to images of present day Singapore. You feel the transformation, the nostalgia of how fast things change, things improve. I would say that my film falls under the genre of documentary/film essay technique. In the similar vein like Werner Herzog’s documentaries or Godfrey Reggio’s Koyaanisqatsi.

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3. Did you face any difficulty while making the montage of visuals?

Not really. I had planned the visuals/locations before I went out shooting. I guess the difficulty comes when I walked around City Hall.
And climbing Fort Siloso in Sentosa. I’m very happy with the film I made. Being selected for the Singapore International Film Festival itself is an honour and a beautiful surprise.

4. I understand the subject of SHINGAPORU MONOGATARI was your grandfather. How was it for him, recalling stories of the war?

It was exciting hearing his stories. he remembers so much. Maybe everything he experienced. He was 14 when the occupation began – I think its an important age in any human being’s life. He had big dreams of being an ustaz (religious teacher) as a student at Madrasah Al-Arabiah.

He said it was somewhere near the present day Masjid Haji Yusoff at Kovan. There was nothing he could do. So he worked for the Japanese doing labour work and cleaning machinery. If he went against the Japanese, he wouldn’t be here today.

The film is for me to remember my grandfather. And to remember our Singaporean ancestors who fought and build our country to what it is today. When I see the changes to Singapore’s natural and urban landscapes, I begin to realize that suffering brings out the best in us. Out of darkness and despair, comes new hopes and new dreams. The film fills a hole in my heart. Partially answers the questions I sometimes ask myself about our heritage and history. If you look at Singapore’s history or the history we study at school.

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It starts with Stamford Raffles in 1819. It is based alot on the colonial or the authorities’ point of view. What happened before 1819, history about Malay civilisation has been conveniently left out. The film is very much a personal narrative, from the viewpoint of a survivor. Its important for us to document war survivors, people who went through it all. I don’t know, I guess the film is part of my life journey, my life’s questions. It’s hard to explain why I like art or why I create art but I hope this quote helps.

There’s a lot of searching in life. Just as John Berger says, “Art is the provocation for talking about enigma and the search for sense in human life.”

5. Any advice for aspiring filmmakers?

Hmm. I don’t make a lot of films either. My advice would be to make a film that you feel strongly about. For me, I want the audience to remember my film. So its important I make a good one. Take your time to write a script. Watch a lot of films of different genres. Everyone is inspired by different things so we got to go out and enjoy. Experience different forms of art like theatre, painting or music, it helps. I like the collaborative aspect of filmmaking. I hope to make more films in the future with Singapore filmmakers.

SMFS: 48 Hour Film Project

Over the May Day weekend two weeks ago, the Singapore Malay Film Society (SMFS) took part in the second 48 Hour Film Project held in our sunny island Singapore. We sent in two teams, Al-Bajet led by Suffian and MatD led by Isnor. Prior to the competition, we had a hard time splitting the already scarce manpower into two teams, but we had to. So here I am, blogging to you about my experience being part of Al-Bajet.

DAY 1

1900 hours

Tisch Asia School of the Arts – Kick Off Event

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Shahril was kind enough to drive Suffian, Linda and myself to Tisch, which to my surprise, located at some isolated part of Singapore. Looking back, Tisch is far more inaccessible than NTU. I wonder why the organisers decided to make Tisch their headquarters. So upon reaching Tisch, we registered, paid the registration fee and waited anxiously for the organisers to release the competition details. Each team was required to draw the genre for their short film, and all teams are to use the given character, prop and line of dialogue in the most creative manner possible.

The team insisted I picked the genre though Linda is the one with the magic fingers. I picked a piece of paper from Mike’s (the organiser) cap and read the genre written. You can imagine how surprised I was when it read ‘Detective/Cop’. I was expecting a simpler genre like drama or comedy.

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So basically, we were given the following details to craft our short film:

Genre: Detective/Cop

Prop: Scissors

Character: Amy/Andy Yeo, Journalist

Line of Dialogue: Is it supposed to look like that?

Then came the journey to look for an inspiration…

3180_1075594326362_1121315568_30206494_903482_nThese, my friends, are the faces of thinkers like Leonardo Da Vinci.

2100 hours

Golden Landmark Hotel and Shopping Centre, ModKebaya

We proceeded to Rezza’s dad’s office to discuss our film at Golden Landmark Hotel. It was getting late and we were sort of stuck when it came to finding an inspiration. Then out of the blue, Linda said that till today, life’s greatest mystery has yet to be solved…

Who stole the cookie from the cookie jar?

We are all familiar with this nursery rhyme, especially those who grew up with Barney. And thus, we decided to let our story evolve around cookies. More on that later.

3180_1075594686371_1121315568_30206502_4069321_nDiscussing the plot and story.

DAY 2

0130 hours

The Comfort of My Bedroom

Upon reaching home, I did the script. After a can of Redbull and a cup of Vietnamese coffee, I finished the script at 4.30 am.  I went to bed just when my mum woke up for Subuh. Nice.

0900 hours

My House

The cast and crew dropped by my lovely home for rehearsal as well as to survey the location for filming later at night. We met some new faces; Dayang, Kelly, Ilyas and Jas who made up our cast. Shaffira made a cameo appearance in our film as well.

After a few rehearsals and a brief briefing by our Director, Suffian, we headed to a multi storey carpark to shoot our first scene.

3180_1075595726397_1121315568_30206528_5369756_nRehearsing at my house.

3180_1075612886826_1121315568_30206583_892198_nFeeling-feeling make up artist!

1200 hours

Tampines Street 72 Carpark

So we shot the first scene, and I must say this is the first time I was working with other people for a film. My previous projects have been pretty much individual ones so working with others was quite an experience. Rezza and Suffian may not have the same style as myself, but when we combine ideas, it works perfectly.

3180_1075614166858_1121315568_30206614_7167459_nRezza playing around with the angles that work best.

3180_1075613406839_1121315568_30206596_5558555_nDIY dolly track courtesy of Suffian’s brother in law!

3180_1075631727297_1121315568_30206668_4623945_nDayang’s piercing scream!

3180_1075632327312_1121315568_30206682_826095_nIgnore the minah sitting like an apek, the focus is on the sound man!

3180_1075613566843_1121315568_30206600_3171897_nLinda and I having fun with the dolly track. Heh.

1700 hours

Badoque Restaurant, Simpang Bedok

We spent a tad too much time at the carpark, but we still managed to shoot at the coolest hang out place ever, Badoque! It was not packed and the staff were really helpful and friendly. They made sure we had everything we need so that shooting would on smoothly.

3180_1075644487616_1121315568_30206758_596252_nBird’s eye view of how the place was set up.

3180_1075644527617_1121315568_30206759_1007953_nRezza doing his thing – being the Director of Photography!

3180_1075644607619_1121315568_30206761_5598159_nRehearsing before the first take.

3180_1075644847625_1121315568_30206767_8086768_nSuffian as director!

2130 hours

Back at my place

Finally, we went back to my place, or HQ, for the final scene – probably the scariest and most suspenseful scene ever. We had fun shooting till 3am on Sunday morning, as well as the rain that made my house sound haunted according to Linda. Oh and the dolly track came for a visit as well!

3180_1075653087831_1121315568_30206787_8011002_nThis is what happens when your talents have too much talent and too little sleep – Ponyo Ponyo dance.

3180_1075653127832_1121315568_30206788_4111177_nDOLLY DOLLY DOLLY!!!! I’m in love with that track!

3180_1075653407839_1121315568_30206794_3635492_nFULL FORCE! From left – Me, Keynah, Kelly, Linda, Lina, Shaffira, Rezza, Ilyas, Jas and Suffian!

DAY 3

2033 hours

Tisch Asia School of the Arts

Yups, we submitted the film 3 minutes late. But fret not, there’s always a silver lining somewhere. Hence, I present to you, the trailer of ALIAS | ILYAS.

A Date with Ezzam and Ghazi

When I first met Ezzam and Ghazi at The Substation for First Take: March, I knew they spelled trouble. Trouble in a sense that the ‘date’ we would have will turn out kecoh (rowdy) but fun. Meet Ezzam Rahman and Ghazi Al-Qudcy, possibly Singapore’s most provocative filmmakers.

Ezzam Rahman (left) and Ghazi Al-Qudcy (right)

Ezzam Rahman (left) and Ghazi Al-Qudcy (right)

Before meeting them, I thought they’re names sounded familiar. At the back of my head, I knew I’ve watched one of their films, but I just didn’t know the title. Then I was a given a DVD with their works – lo and behold – Ghazi was the director for Hidden Treasures! The film was one of the judges’ favourite in the 8 Minutes Muslim Youth Filmmaking Competition, but sadly was not chosen for the finals. It was a little bit awkward for me to interview another fellow competitor, but as Ghazi would say, “In this industry, you learn from each other. No one’s your competition. We’re all working for the same goal.”

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Ezzam Rahman (above), 28 years old, does not have any formal training on filmmaking. Instead, he holds a Diploma in Fine Arts from LaSelle College of the Arts. Trained as a scupltor, he tends to make films that questions the audience, “I don’t like messages being sent across so directly. I like a little bit of roundabouts before my audience gets what I want to say.”

Ghazi Al-Qudcy, on the other, took a longer education path to get to where he is now. Currently, the 25-year-old is an undergraduate at NTU’s Arts and Media Design Faculty. A former student at Republic Polytechnic, Ghazi began his filmmaking journey there while going through his three-year diploma course in New Media. “When you’re in a school like RP, you should make use of their facilities and equipments to make your films. You can’t say you’ve got no money cause you have the logistics,” this is one tip I will use for life. Somehow when Ghazi said that, I regret not joining Film Society back in MJC. Imagine the equipments I can exploit… (evil laughter).

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Anyways, some of their works include Demam Jantan (part of the All for a Guy series), Hidden Treasures, Blk 46, just to name a few. The duo has been hailed by local filmmakers like Tan Pin Pin and Royston Tan as The Next Big Thing in the local film industry because of their numerous works in various film festivals here. Amongst the film festivals that Ezzam and Ghazi have participated in are Fly by Night and the Panasonic Digital Film Fiesta. “We joined these competitions just because we needed money, seriously. We were lusting after the cash prize just so we can pay off our phone bills and go karaoke,” said Ghazi lightheartedly.

Nevertheless, the mini film competitions they participated in were the ones that shot them to fame. Their first short film, Demam Jantan, was the judges’ favourite in the first Fly by Night despite not winning any awards. The short was chosen to represent Singapore at various international film festivals like Thailand’s 3rd First Frame Festival and Indonesia’s 4th Q! Film Festival. Although both are accidental filmmakers, the duo has made over 25 short films in five years. Now we’re all asking them, how about a feature film?!

Ezzam said, “Short films are like sketches for your actual painting. So just wait for us, ya?”