Insight on local directorial efforts
> The director of Bunohan and Interchange shares his unfiltered thoughts on the Malaysian film industry and filmmaking
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.