In­sight on lo­cal di­rec­to­rial ef­forts

> The di­rec­tor of Buno­han and In­ter­change shares his un­fil­tered thoughts on the Malaysian film in­dus­try and film­mak­ing

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SUNBIZ -

that one of the big­gest dilem­mas many di­rec­tors face is the lack of knowl­edge that comes from film schools.

“The thing about col­lege and film school is that it not so much teaches you how to make a film, but it teaches you many cor­re­spond­ing or com­ple­ment­ing things, like knowl­edge and the tools that go to­wards mak­ing a film,” Dain ex­plains.

“These tools are es­sen­tially in­tel­lec­tual tools, not tech­ni­cal tools and that’s im­por­tant; it teaches you how to think, how to see the world and cre­ate.”

Speak­ing on what he be­lieves is a ma­jor fac­tor in­hibit­ing the growth of the lo­cal film in­dus­try, and by ex­ten­sion, ob­struct­ing the progress of lo­cal film­mak­ers, Dain chalks it up to an in­trin­sic at­ti­tude prob­lem.

“Every­one thinks film­mak­ing is easy, al­though in many ways, it is. What peo­ple do not un­der­stand is that there is more to just mak­ing a film; you need other kinds of tools.

“If you’re a ge­nius, as in you’re a writer, a thinker, a vi­su­aliser, and all those things at 100% op­ti­mum level, then great. If you’re not, then you have to learn it from some­where. The prob­lem is not a lot of peo­ple think they ought to learn or should learn; they think they’re there al­ready.”

As the rain gets heav­ier, and the walk­way sees us packed like sar­dines in a can, Dain shuf­fles fur­ther to the end of the Ur­ban­scapes build­ing be­fore ap­proach­ing the topic of a resur­gence in the qual­ity of film­mak­ers and their films.

“Let me ask you,” he queries, paus­ing for a mo­ment; “Resur­gence in what and how? Sto­ry­telling, the art and skill in sto­ry­telling, yeah, there are more peo­ple mak­ing more sto­ries, but that does not nec­es­sar­ily mean it’s bril­liant.”

“I think there’s more resur­gence in the kind of story and sto­ry­telling, and the peo­ple telling them – young peo­ple. I love that and I think there’s a resur­gence. But in terms of the tech­ni­cal skills, it’s not quite re­ally there. It does ex­ist, but not as wide as you think it does.”

Dur­ing an in­ter­view in 2014, Dain had claimed that Malaysia does not have the lo­gis­tics of pro­duc­tion, the right peo­ple, and the skill sets to make what he calls an “in­dus­try”. Upon be­ing asked whether his opin­ion has changed in the last four years, he ex­plains that it’s two-sided.

“On one hand, yes there is change and there are im­prove­ments. On the other hand, there isn’t. The peo­ple that have been prac­tis­ing have im­proved, but the newer ones are not nec­es­sar­ily cre­at­ing any­thing dif­fer­ent.

“To me, peo­ple like (Liew) Seng Tat and Nam Rom are re­ally good, but it doesn’t sweep across the board. They’re just in­di­vid­u­als here and there, and that doesn’t con­sti­tute to the in­dus­try.”

See­ing how Dain seemed to be get­ting in­creas­ingly ag­i­tated, pre­sum­ably at the state of the film in­dus­try, the di­rec­tor still man­aged to muster up ad­vice for as­pir­ing film­mak­ers.

“Look be­yond films, to other ar­eas of the arts. Every­one can press a but­ton on a cam­era, edit and make a film, but where is the cre­ativ­ity and all the in­tel­lec­tual tools that are needed to make a great film?”

Dain be­lieves there is a resur­gence in sto­ry­telling and the sto­ries in lo­cal films, but not in terms of qual­ity.

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