SMFS: The Curse of Niyang Rapik Press Conference

I arrived at Eng Wah Suntec to see a string of crowd hanging around the box-office. Most of the crowd were teenage girls and some arrived with their boyfriends, making them stick out like a sore thumb.

The individual interviews were scheduled at 3pm, but due to traffic conditions, the cast and crew of The Curse of Niyang Rapik arrived a little late. I came into the press conference room, caught the eye of one of the cast, smiled and then quietly sat down with my Caramel Frappe from Starbucks. I quickly learnt that they were still having the mini press conference with winners from a Berita Harian (BH) competition.

I surveyed the table; Shahiezy Sam, Kamal Adli, Ahmad Idham and Awal Ashaari all looked tired but they managed to keep their smiles for the fans. You could see that the trio of actors – Shahiezy, Kamal and Awal – was the freshest face in Malaysian cinema. All three were tall, handsome and had a distinct character, not to mention that they are all still in their twenties and single – to the fans, at least.

Who can resist Awal Ashaari’s charming personality?

Kamal Adli looking cool while the interview takes place.

Ahmad Idham being interview by SMFS Journalist Nurul ‘Ain.

Shahiezy, dressed in a t-shirt and jeans combo with a gray leather jacket, would probably blend well with the crowd at Orchard Road together with his black wayfarer sunglasses. Kamal, the youngest of the trio at 24 years old, looked trendy with his colourful high-cut sneakers while Awal, probably the most sought after by the fans, was dressed for a concert complete with a checkered shirt and black vest. Ahmad Idham, Malaysia’s top film director, arrived in a casual combo looking smart and ‘abang-abang’ as usual. He was all smiles and ready to release his third horror film in Singapore.

Shahiezy Sam thinking hard about ‘Ain’s questions.

When asked what was the inspiration for The Curse of Niyang Rapik, Ahmad Idham simply said the location brought the story alive. “I go fishing at Kenyir once every four months, just to relax and be cut off from the hectic city life. So the last time I went there, I said to myself – I want to make a film here.”

Malaysians are all too familiar with Puaka Niyang Rapik, a hit TV3 horror series produced by Ahmad Idham as well. So it comes as no surprise that The Curse of Niyang Rapik would follow closely to the genre of thriller, adventure and horror. By my standards, The Curse of Niyang Rapik is the best horror film Metrowealth has ever produced, even better than Santau and Jangan Pandang Belakang.

From left: Isnor, Shahiezy, Awal, Me, Ain, Ahmad Idham, Kamal and Saiful.

I’ll let you guys YouTube the trailer for now, and oogle and the pictures which I know some of you might want to kill me for. I think I may already need a bodyguard, don’t you think?

Look out for a review from the SMFS Journalists tomorrow and a new SMFS column by yours truly next week on Monday.

The Curse of Niyang Rapik is released on 13 May 2010.

Advertisements

SMFS: Santau Media Conference

Stepping into Eng Wah Suntec, little was made known of the presence of 5 individuals who were responsible for the making of a box-office hit across the causeway. No red carpets, no paparazzi – just roaring laughter of students clad in school uniforms.

The main cast and crew of Santau (Whispers of the Devil) drove all the way from Kuala Lumpur to attend the premiere and media conference held at Eng Wah Suntec last Monday evening. Neither of them showed any signs of fatigue, or restlessness. In fact, they looked more than ready to answer queries by the young journalists of Obor from Berita Harian. Zul Handy Black, who plays the character of Man, even sang for the young crowd upon finding out his past musical career.

Ain interviewing Zul Handy Black

Meeting the cast – Esma Daniel (Halim), Putri Mardiana (Nina) and Zul (Man) – was a fruitful experience for me. Though I may not be an avid follower of Malaysian drama serials, I could recognize their faces having seen them on television. Esma, widely known as a television actor rather than a film actor, appeared to be a little bit nervous despite his attempts in making jokes to break the tension in the audience. Putri, who prefers to be called Nina (her nickname, not the character in Santau), was more relaxed and calm.

Esma Daniel looking all excited.

I must admit, I was a bit skeptical of Santau, after bad experiences with Jangan Pandang Belakang, Congkak, Jangan Tegur and Jangan Pandang Belakang Congkak – all by the Metrowealth International Group (MIG). I thought it was going to be “just another Malay horror flick”. That was when producer David Teo begs to differ. “Santau is not ‘just another horror flick’! By the end of the movie, you will cry. It will make a husband love his wife more and a boyfriend treat his girlfriend better. This film has soul!” – something of which you will be able to find out when you watch the movie for yourself.

Putri Mardiana looking sleek with her fedora and charming personality.

One thing I didn’t look forward to was listening to the stories the cast and crew went through during shooting. The tales of spirits lingering around the location, being hidden in the toilet and Esma being ‘possessed’ in front of the camera – they were all surreal to me. I refused to believe them – just so I could make it home alone without constantly looking behind my back. (Haha get it? Jangan pandang belakang!) Yet, knowing where my ancestral roots are, I have to admit their stories are as real as this blog entry. My grandfather was a medicine man, and he did have his fair share of friends from the other world. I wouldn’t be surprised if what happened to them on set were true.

Anyways, the part when Esma was possessed onscreen? Yeah they put it up. I wouldn’t spoil it for you but if one of the scenes look real enough, then that’s the one.

Mr MIG Davi Teo and myself

Moving on, I was more interested in the director, Azhari Zain, actually. Having been trained in film in an Australian university, he was very fluent in English, to my surprise. However, Zack, as he prefers to be known as, was even more shocked when David Teo approached him to direct Santau. After all, he was one of the newer directors in the Malaysian film scene. I must admit, though, he did carry a weight on his shoulders as the director. Horror flicks from Malaysian are infamous with the whole I-am-possessed-help-me themes. And I was a little bit skeptical before I attended the press conference. Upon hearing his background and his fluency in English, I was a little bit more hopeful.

The director himself.

Wrapping up, David Teo mentioned that reporters in Malaysia loved the film – even the worst critics gave their best comments. I am doubtful, even more so after saying, “In ten years time, Santau will be the best film Malaysia has ever produced!”

From left: Nina, Azhari Zain and David Teo

We shall see, aye?

SMFS Crew (from left): Art, Me, Kartini, Yassar, Saiful and Isnor

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!

9328_1148442867530_1121315568_30406151_7374619_n

One of the guests signing the guest book.

9328_1148449667700_1121315568_30406170_6953181_n

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

9328_1148460387968_1121315568_30406231_4531487_n

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!

9328_1148467468145_1121315568_30406262_3798767_n

Pretty plaques for the awardees!

9328_1148475548347_1121315568_30406355_4498658_n

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

9328_1148475668350_1121315568_30406358_1789656_n

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.

9328_1148475708351_1121315568_30406359_4047573_n

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.

9328_1148486908631_1121315568_30406458_2268164_n

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

9328_1148486948632_1121315568_30406459_2783332_n

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.

9328_1148487268640_1121315568_30406466_5413902_n

Yazid aka Farid came down for Purnama 2 as well!

9328_1148586391118_1121315568_30406688_4785187_n

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

9328_1148590151212_1121315568_30406707_5525048_n

Awardees with Cikgu Yusnor Ef.

9328_1148586751127_1121315568_30406696_2507180_n

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: Purnama 2 Day I Screenings

So Purnama is baaaaaccckkkkk!!!!!

The Singapore Malay Film Society (SMFS) had its annual short-film festival last Thursday, and Purnama 2 is set to be even better than last year’s Purnama! This year, SMFS is holding a three-day screening to showcase talents from our Malay community on 8, 12 and 17 October 2009. Here are some snippets of the first screening held last Thursday at the Substation.

IMG_0587

Pretty Purnama 2 programme booklets!

IMG_0600

Posing/Cam-whoring while briefing.

IMG_0591

Pretty, right? Done by yours truly, sponsored by Linda!

IMG_0605

Audience! Spot Sarah, Nani and Izzati!

IMG_0608

The QnA Session led by our curator, Ghazi Al-Qudcy. Catch Ghazi’s directorial debut on Suria’s Sewa on Monday Nights and 9.30pm.

IMG_0614

Filmmakers, actors and funnymen. Second from the right, Hafiz Huzaifah, the director of Stress Management. A funny Mat instructional film that led me questioning the Mat culture.

7932_1143743830057_1121315568_30394257_4271904_n

Crew!!

I’ll leave you all begging for more, so in the mean time, come down to the Substation today at 7.30pm for the round two of the screenings!

Tickets for the finals cum awards screening on 17 October 2009, 1930 hrs, can be purchased at the Substation today, or reserved via email to shamsydar@smfs.sg or roslinda@smfs.sg.

Hope to see you there!

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.

pic1

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.

pic3

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?

pic2

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!

pic4

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.

pic5

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.

pic6

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.

pic7

Group photo!

pic8

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.

pic9

Dato’ Aziz Sattar and his wife

pic10

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.

pic11

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!

pic1

I love this shot.

pic2

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

pic3

A good way to punish students.

pic4

Priceless.

pic5

Scenes like these makes me wanna go back to school.

pic6

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.

poster-laskar-pelangi

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.

hafidz

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.

shingaposter

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.

still01low

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.

still03low

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

3180_1075593686346_1121315568_30206478_1047691_n

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.

3180_1075594566368_1121315568_30206499_7933609_n

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 A Visual Effects Artist: Effandi Mohamed

When I was asked to interview a visual effects artist, I was more than glad to do it.

When I was asked to interview a visual effects artist who does effects for Hollywood movies, I was thrilled.

But when I was asked to interview a visual effects artist who did effects for The Dark Knight, my hands were shaking in excitement.

Everyone, meet Effandi Mohamed, a visual effects artist at Double Negatives (Dneg for short).

n599468696_1350048_884

As I crafted my questions for the interview, my head started to go blank. I certainly could interview an actor, writer, musician, or even a director. Yet, I had no idea what to ask a visual effects artist! This is a sign that Singapore needs more people in the visual effects industry so journalists can interview. Thankfully, Effandi was able to understand that.

Our interview took place at Starbucks Tampines (they had a major makeover and I AM THRILLED!), even though I was reluctant fearing that it was too casual an atmosphere for an interview. Effandi assured me that Starbucks was a good venue, “Chill ahh… We’re in the creative industry! We have to be relaxed and casual!” That being said, I dumped my bag on the sofa and immediately queued for a Caramel Macchiato.

The 29-year-old visual effects artist who enjoys football, traveling and photography is someone whom we can call a role model. Despite having worked on mega Hollywood blockbusters, Effandi stayed calm and humble through out the interview session. I asked Effandi on the prospects of Singapore’s role in the visual effects industry as well as the future of local films incorporating visual effects.

How did you land a job in the visual effects industry?

I was studying at CG Protégé and Dneg staffs dropped by to visit the school and informing us they are recruiting talents from Singapore for their London office. They like what they see from our works and requested us to submit our showreels if we’re keen on working with them. Back in 2004-2006, the 3D industry was slowly picking up its pace in Singapore, considering it is a multi billion dollar industry. It was a very competitive market in Singapore at that time and therefore I decided to try my luck with Dneg.  Few weeks later I was interviewed by Dneg’s HR Manager and 2D VFX Supervisor and I was very nervous during the interview. A week later, I got an email from the HR Manager that I was accepted and they are flying me off to London soon.

Have you always considered a career in the media industry specializing in visual effects? What were some of the difficulty faced?

It has been a dream of mine since I watched Armageddon, Matrix and some other VFX movies and to have my name in the credits of a Hollywood blockbuster. When I graduated from LaSalle in 2001 majoring in multi-media art, there was not much demand for 3D works in Singapore and therefore jobs in the 3D industry were limited to those lucky few. Nevertheless, I still took the risk of studying what I love, not knowing much about where my future was headed, really.

Without hardship, there is no success. It took me ten years to get to where I am now. I had to make do with a job as a videographer and video editor at the Singapore Police Force for five years while I waited patiently for the 3D industry to boom. Perhaps if I didn’t get an F9 for English during my O Levels, I would probably have had a better job upon graduation. I guess everything happens for a reason – I’m happy where I am now.

What do you like most about doing visual effects in Hollywood movies?

A visual effects artist has to be meticulous and really pay attention to detail. Mistakes can be seen obviously and the precise technicalities challenge me to do my best and that’s what I like about doing visual effects. Of course, end of the day our name will be credit and been seen around the globe which I find it really cool.

What were some of the movies you have worked on?

Angels & Demons, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Quantum of Solace, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, Hellboy II: The Golden Army and The Dark Knight.

How did you feel when you found out you were working on the Dark Knight – the biggest Hollywood blockbuster since Titanic?

Actually, I had no idea it would turn out to be a box office hit. In fact, I belief neither did any of us at Dneg when we’re working on it! We knew we had to be very precise with out work since it’s in IMAX format. It be nice if The Dark Knight could smash Titanic all time record.

So do you think Singapore is ready for post-production work like visual effects?

Seriously speaking, the visual effects industry in Singapore is still an infant industry. Give it a few more years; coupled with government support, trainings in schools and public awareness, the industry will certainly grow. Singapore government needs to give all the support it can give to the industry because a lot of things are involved to create stunning visual effects like special effects, building miniatures sets, props etc.

Comparing Singapore and Hollywood, how different are the two film industries?

Huge differences, man! Hollywood uses loads of big trucks full of actors, camera crew, make up crew artists and whole lots of equipments etc just to shoot one scene! Imagine the scale of production compared to Singapore! Besides, they are able to have bigger budgets and therefore they can use it for visual and special effects. They have proper filming studios when we ourselves do not.

What do you hope to see in the filming industry in Singapore?

We need more filmmakers who are willing to take the risk and integrate visual effects in their films. This is the only way for this industry to succeed in Singapore.

What do you hope to see in Singapore’s visual effects industry?

Strong government backing with financial support – in large amounts, of course! *wink * This financial backing will of coz help to improve in all aspects to build this industry from education, luring companies and creating more jobs for fellow Singaporeans.
Hopefully we’ll see more established CG companies setting up studios here in our little island, and perhaps more Malays will get involved in this industry. We can’t be sitting at our office desks being contented with whatever we have. We need to be chasing our dreams; even if takes us a long time to achieve it.

And yes, we need more ladies in the industry (chuckles).

What is your advice for potential visual artists and wannabes?

Work hard – it’s not just the creativity but also the technical know-hows and artistic value of your work. With both elements, you can be the best visual artist if you really want to.