According to the four young Malaysian directors at a Megabox-held seminar on Sunday, luck and DV technology are major factors in becoming a hot helmer.
“Most of us didn’t set out to be filmmakers — it just happened that way,” said James Lee, whose “Waiting for Love” is unspooling in PIFF’s Three Colors of New Malaysian Cinema section.
Instead of going to film school, Lee and fellow conferees Ho Yuhang (“As I Lay Dying”), Liew Seng Tat (“Flower in the Pocket”) and Yasmin Ahmad (“Mukhsin”) entered the biz sideways, through contacts and jobs in the TV and ad worlds.
Former software engineer Ho told attendees that “my career did not follow a straight path,” with his first directing gig, a TV movie, coming almost casually from a TV station colleague.
His admittedly “really bad film” led to a workshop at the Nantes fest in France and then to the film that launched his career, “Min,” winner of the special jury prize at Nantes in 2003.
The rocky road to fame, he said, was smoothed by the DV gadgets “that allowed us to afford filmmaking — it’s the one thing that saved us.”
Another plus, he believes, is the foreign fascination with Malaysia’s mix of native Malay, Chinese and Indian cultures — the “three colors” of the PIFF section title.
“Japanese audiences are especially confused by this — but they find the confusion interesting,” Ho commented.
Ahmad made her first film, the 2003 “Rabun,” for her ailing father, as a tribute to his long, loving relationship with her mother. Shot in six days on super 16, it was selected for the Torino fest.
The many awards her films have since garnered have made her parents so happy that, she said, “I can’t stop making films now — I want my parents to have a longer life.”