Monday, January 28, 2008

A RATTY Coincidence

1996 was a turning point of a year for me as I finally came back to my beloved "teh tarik culture", Malaysia and after 7 years of my life that was spent in Los Angeles. I remembered joining this production house as my first job as an in house director. My first project was a Chinese New Year project called Balik Kampung'97. That year was the year of the RAT... and 12 years later, the lady boss called me to helm a Chinese New Year project and this time, it is called A Heavenly Chinese New Year as the hosts mainly are located on top of KL Tower and also on top of Eye On Malaysia. My recollection of making Balik Kampung'97 was not a good one as my first experience with a local production house was mind and body shattering. It was disorganized and poor communication. I was thrown into this project once I joined the company and the management promised me that everything was under control. Hmmm.... I should have noticed the problem from the beginning... Well... I was young at the time and I wanted to make a difference as this FILM GRADUATE from Hollywood. Har!! Har!! Man... I was so naive... ;? Firstly, I was given this Production Manager who seems to be very nice in the beginning but later he will become a nightmare to the production. He disappeared from the production during the 2nd day of the shoot and when he did come back some days later, he created havoc in front of the talents and the crew. I had to pull him to one side and chased him out of the set. Secondly, the script was still being written when the shoot was a week away and when it did come... it was in Chinese!!! Yep!! I am a self confessed banana. I can't read Chinese except for my name and those ultra simple characters like, 'I', 'You'...errr I guess that's it. On the big day when we had close to 20 celebrities to shoot, I had a long night before that as we shot until 2am and that day began at 7am. That night I requested for 3 cameras as there were a lot of things to cover in this big bungalow where the CNY celebration was held. I was given the 3 cameras but I did not have monitors to look at and no walkie talkie to communicate with my cameramen. I ended up like a fool running around to all the cameramen, telling them what I wanted. We were still shooting after 10pm and I was at the verge of breaking down. I called upon Brando Lee to assist me in completing the shoot and we finally finished shooting at 2.30am. This time out, I was quite happy that everything ran quite proper with very minor hiccups as Jenn and I were essentially steering the whole production. The hiccups came from the production house and we are still affected by them but Jenn and I are pushing forward to do better and greater things ahead. The bitter taste is best forgotten.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

The Year of Change

The past few days I've been listening to the US presidential candidates going on and on about CHANGE.... and indeed last year was a year where my life has gone through a semi-drastic transformation.

Travelled I have to India last year, a journey that has changed the way I worked for the past few years. When I returned, everything slowly converged to a single point for me to head into a new direction, a direction where I have always dreamt but dare not make. Actually, I did make it a few years back in 2004 but I was not ready yet and that costs my family a few months of grief as I was unemployed.

Meeting Sidney at a mamak restaurant one afternoon in KL was the day that changed everything. How ironic and coincidental things can be, Sidney telling me that his girlfriend was co-directing a reality show and after Sidney left, I was about to get on my trusted Honda C70, I got a phone call from the production manager of the reality show that they are looking for a director. And that day I decided to take up the offer to co-direct THE FIRM.

A great experience it was and during the directing stint, Jennifer and I decided to start our company and do it seriously. We wanted to control the end product so in order for that, we decided to get our post-production house going first. It was easy to say that we wanted to start the company but the question was..... where are we going to get the money??? Jenn did a lot of the budget breakdown and we scouted around our relatives for potentially investing into our set up. It was difficult to convince them as we have no track record to support what we were venturing into... but I thought family is supposed to support whenever one needs the assistance but it was quite a difficult push as some of them were still contemplating whether to invest or not. Later, Jenn's auntie in the US decided to invest the biggest chunk in our little set up, together with my father putting in a smaller portion.

I am proud to say that our little set up is doing OK. Anything could be much better but I am not complaining because we are moving and we are planning for bigger projects and 2008 will be a year where we will prosper (have to use word as Chinese New Year is approaching...) ;>