I recently met a very opinionated filmmaker and I talked to him a bit about films. Then I showed Maria, the most recent shortie I made. He hated it. I asked him to tell me his honest opinion on it. His comments were fiery and he questioned almost everything about Maria. I am usually at my calmest when I talk about film but because he was so very opinionated, I had to be even more tactful with my response.
And then it hit me, I don't want to be like this guy. Oh my God, maybe I am already Him! And then the thought ricochet "No, I'm not him, yet. I've tried my very very very best to be as open minded as possible when it comes to film. I watch indie, hindi, horror, malay, thriller, action, kungfu, surrealism, art house etc and I never ever discriminate!"
I've also discovered long ago that it is not good to be opinionated about films. It personally limits my range and yes, there is that little issue with Karma or subliminal conditioning. For example, if you hate 'bad' malay films so much, you will end up inclined to making such films. The brain does not recognize the word Hate, No, Bad. It only process information. Like in Inception: Don't think about elephants!
I've watched Abbas Kiarostami's Close-Up and Ming Liang Tsai's Wayward Cloud yesterday. Today's homework is Luis Bunuel's That Obscure Object of Desire.
Now, THAT is what I called a racist. That person right there is the reason why malay malaysians like me still have second thoughts about supporting the BN machine.
My only hope is that he is one of the few 'nila' in the milk-filled 'belanga'. This kind of mentality is fueled by an indelible inferiority complex by the malay constituency and community.
Sad. Let's spread this video until he is forced to resign or get fired from UMNO. Let's show all Malaysians that we don't accept this kind of behavior from anyone.
I think I have to get ready to be independent. Work, House, Money.
Scary stuff. But it's time.
If were up to me, I want to live with my parents and make independent films. But my parents live in Alor Setar and I don't have any financial backing to keep making independent films. I've been living with aunt for a year and I think it's high time to start looking somewhere else to live.
And work. I need a permanent job. It's time to make brand new resumes and send it to production companies.
I can't believe that I'm the first person in my family to start working and living independently. It's super scary since I've no one to look up to in this particular phase of life.
Oh well, as scary as it seems, I'm up for it!
Anxious. Excited. I missed him so much that I have already prepared a to-do list the moment I heard he was coming to Alor Setar. Unlike most siblings I know, Hadi, Saiful and I share a strange and ritualistic bond. When we're together, no matter how old we get, we will act and talk and eat like we do ten years ago. We are each other's friends, enemies, victims, jury and judge. Whenever are together, we would flock with each other and ignore everyone around us, making and laughing at our jokes and meticulously preparing pranks just for the sake of it.
My uncles and aunts would scold us for not socializing with everyone else in the family. Well, they just don't understand where we stand. I live in Kuala Lumpur, Hadi's in Alor Setar and Saiful is living with my mother in Sabah so our sibling reunion is limited to a week every year. I have only myself to blame. I masterminded our family disintegration and although I am convinced that it was for the best,
I am planning to make Misteri Maskara Maroon or The Maroon Mascara Mystery in December. The 20 minutes short film is an investigation-type docufiction revolving around a mysterious murder threat SMS sent to members of an apartment's welfare association.
In early November, I'm making Let's Talk About Mak, a 5 minute short film that will be shot entirely in a car. It is actually a real story based on a conversation I had with my brother in a car.
A surreal and violent docufiction and a simplistic one-shot-wonder shortie! A world of difference but both are a tribute to Abbas Kiarostami, a filmmaker I'm studying now.
I was reading the latest furor about the Monte Carlo's Islamic Fashion Festival in the toilet just now and it occurred to me that I haven't been blogging about anything controversial lately. I think it happens as you get older. I was impressionable back then and I harbored a hangat-hangat tahi ayam dream to be an activist. Although I don't know that the future holds for me now, I do know for certain that I want to be better in filmmaking.
I'm still super pissed that I lost in MAViC and every time I hear news about the competition my blood boils as the 10-tailed Jinchuriki inside me grunts "See you motherfuckers in Cannes!"
On a lighter note, I am writing a screenplay about a Kebaya-ed Lorena Bobbit as the third installation of my Kebaya Chronicle while waiting for BMW Shorties's Top Ten announcement on the 15th of November. Nervous gila babing! I hope Maria grabs a spot. I think this is the most challenging film competition I've ever entered because not only will I compete with professionals, I have no idea what the judges are looking for. Mari ubah topik.
I went to Empire's Jazz Festival and was immediately hooked with the very concept of jazz music. So yes yes yes, jazz music in my upcoming film!
General Election is coming up.
Hindraf. Perkasa. UMNO. PAS. Islam. Christianity. Anything that is communal by nature is a perfect habitat to rouse mob mentality. Mob mentality enforce people's sense of conviction. Conviction are more dangerous enemies of the truth than lies -Nietzsche. And that's that.
Anyone who opposes the conventions set up by these communities, especially when the system was intended for them will be considered as the opposition, and there you go, another community is born. People who are neither the convention nor opposition are anarchist. You are not enlightened. It is as it is.
Everyone knows this. I know this. Everyone doesn't care. I don't care. What I do care about is when we fight each other because our rage works in unison. How can we curb conviction? By explaining the truth before conviction grows. But what is the truth? Please reread this blog entry.
Children stories are often scary, dark and off-putting. Rock-a-bye Baby anyone? Or Humpty Dumpty. And let's not forget J. M. Barrie's Peter Pan. Far from the Disneyed version of Peter Pan, the real Peter Pan is not something I think children should read and thank god they don't. They just watch the watered down cartoons and films.
Maybe children are more receptive towards stories that are Tim Burton in nature. Maybe.
This got me thinking. I want to make a short short short film on a classic malay pantun and translate it in a way that would spook the living hell out of kids and parents alike.
I'm already storyboarding it now. You'll get to see what I'm talking about in a week or two.
Like everyone else around me, my film rating system is simple: Best, Tak Best, OK, Bolehlah...
But only God knows what I really feel about the films I watched. I had to pretend to like Avatar because if I professed my repulsion towards the film, people will just think I'm a contrarian. For the same reason, I don't go off telling everybody that I love the Happening. And yes, I don't talk to people about films that nobody seems to watch. Why should I? Because it's a strictly personal affair.
But when I showed Maria to several people, they were polite enough to ask me "Who are your target audience for this film?" a winding way of telling me that this film is not understandable to a mass audience. I get it. I really do. But still, to me, it doesn't matter. Because it's a strictly personal affair.
I've been blessed to be attracted to all kinds of films, Hollywood and Bollywood, commercial and independent, love and war, period and sci-fi, Park Chan Wook and Park Chan Wook. So does it matter that a film is Best or Tak Best? How can I be the judge of what's what? So I keep my mouth closed and mind open when it comes to film. Because it's a strictly personal affair.
I submitted the short film I made for BMW Shorties yesterday. The moment I handed it in, I was so tired, I slept the remaining of the day off. It was an exhausting journey, from the inception of the idea to the execution. It took me almost 3 weeks to write, storyboard, cast, shoot and edit the short film. But it was all well worth it. I loved every second of making Maria.
I had the best crew ever. Muttaqee Misran is one hell of a perfectionist Director of Photography but he followed my cinematography exactly as I have envisioned it. Kabir was super efficient and Aman Wan was like a sponge. The make up was perfectly executed by Natalia and the cast did their very best to portray my ideal Maria and Jah.
With a budget of only RM1000, I think we pulled off a pretty descent shortie!
Here's 'Jah' and the make up artist Natalia during our third break during the shoot. It was 5 in the morning and the rest of the crew were taking a power nap including the actress who played Maria, Charlene Wong.
The Top 10 announcement will be on the 15th of November. Pray for us!
Maria is under construction! Watch Maria's teaser:
And here is sneak peak of Maria behind the scenes. In this bit, I am demonstrating a stun to the actresses and being my extremely macho self, haha.
I've been very secretive about my upcoming short film Maria. Not much is known about it other than its name. Well, I just didn't want to blog about it because I feared that people's response to it will divert my vision.
We just had our rehearsal and we'll start shooting tomorrow.
My crew are a bunch of very very talented people. Muttaqqee is very talented cinematographer and I was surprised when I found out that he is actually a medic student! Kabir who is studying architecture is a very resourceful and dependable producer. Aman Wan, my assistant director is an up and coming comic artist and he is naturally gifted in filmmaking.
Maria is a story about an encounter between a middle age woman and a young lady at a children's playground. The obvious message of this film is emotional waste and how it pollutes generations after generations.
How does Maria relates to BMW Shorties theme: 0% Wastage?
My understanding of wastage is simple. Waste are things that we left behind that will corrupt mother nature. I wasn't too fond of making a literal interpretation of 0% wastage so I introduced a wider paradigm that deals with the concept of waste. I focus on the extreme 100% wastage and its effects to make people realize the significance and importance of 0% wastage.
It's like making a doomsday movie. People's immediate reaction to this type of movie is to live their life to the fullest. Movies that shows people living their life to the fullest in order to illustrates the benefits of such lifestyle will appear haughty, imposing and holier-than-thou. So that's why.
Maria is also genre-less. I used effective elements from different genre of films like noir, horror, thriller and fantasy as the foundation of Maria. So in this sense, it is an experimental piece.
Shooting will commence tomorrow and I'm super duper excited (and worried).
I don't know if I've told you this, but I don't read heavy novels, sketch 'art' on my sketchbook or listen to World music everyday. Don't get me wrong, I surrender myself to creative-type douche-nism every now and then. But what I am, is a geek. A geek. Here is a list I made that pretty much sealed my identity as a geek.
1. Anime or manga inspired wallpaper. Every week or so I will select a worthy fan-made wallpaper to adorn my working space. My favourite: DeathNote, Full Metal Panic, Eureka Seven, Code Geass.
2. The subsequent anime or manga inspired facebook profile picture. Because sometimes it's fun to put myself in the anime/manga I love. Sometimes jelah ye.
3. Do you know people who discuss in length about animes and sometimes get themselves into feuds with fellow otakus? Have you ever been in a fight with the stubborn Gil Arrowhead? Hello, I am Gil Arrowhead.
4. I have fantasy names like Gil Arrowhead. Gil is the first name of Gil-Galad, the King of Noldor. Arrowhead is an arrow head I bought from a LOTR merchandise shop in Amsterdam that I keep to this day at a secret location. I have entrusted myself to retrieve the arrowhead once I acquire enough knowledge to cut through all man-truths and achieve elf-like wisdom. That or when I turn 30. 7 years to go ftw.
5. Masashi Kishimoto makes more sense than Socrates to me. (Paksu, bila nak bagi balik buku itu?) Anwar Ibwahim? Puh-leez.... Lelouch (of Code Geass) is my meter of revolution. Eragon is my hero. Dragonair is my pet of choice. I want sharigan eyes. I want a girlfriend like Tessa Testarossa.
6. Tessa Testarossa? She is the cause of my many midnight accidents.
7. I prefer eating in a pirate ship restaurant that serves crappy food anytime of the day. More themed restaurants please!
8. Haruka Kanata has the power to make me work 200% harder in anything I do. If I listen to this song while smashing belacan with a lesung, the lesung will crack. Ya, begitu semangat sekali.
This is of course an exemption but in real life, I will never admit of being a geek, mainly because it never shows (I'm a closeted geek) and I don't talk about my stash of Shinchan comics underneath my bed.
The only thing that I don't cover as a geek is that I don't like to play games. I play very few games like Tekken, Naruto Battle and Armored Core but that's about it.
In the future, I would like to take part in a Cosplay competition. With my thick eyebrows and ever-erecting hair, I could easily pull off an awesome Bezita!
I'm not sure how this realization came about but I think it is a grossly unfair impression of the malays because you and I know that everyone else is racist too, chinese and indians alike.
I am racist myself, I have to admit. I am an ardent supporter of UMNO, a malay based political party. I prefer doing business with my own kind (malays). I speak my own language Bahasa Melayu. My lifestyle is dominated by my culture and religion. So yes, evidently, I am one very racist person.
How are you less racist than me? By all means, enlighten me.
I hate it when I have to be more careful of what I speak and write, now more than ever. Today, my own kind are so preoccupied oiling the feathers of ungrateful peacocks, I have to resort to innuendos or I will be considered being blatantly racist.
It's just unfair, you know.
We are all racists and that's a good thing. It becomes a bad thing when it conflicts with Malaysia's development and progress. I think it's awesome that our radio has so many different languages to cater people of diverse backgrounds. Malaysia is different and we should accept that. We're cool that way yo!
So please, calm down my indian and chinese friends. If I write something that insinuates stereotypes, can you just please laugh it off and not call the police. You and I know we are all racists but we never kill each other because of it. You know that, I know that, so chill lah!