19 February 2010

It has been a long time since I updated this blog. Been busy with stuff, particularly my new website.

The website is finally online. I can relax abit now and make little changes here and there.

Feel free to browse the website at : http://www.smartmatmedia.com/

Below is a brief description on Smartmat Media:
"Our core business is to provide quality wedding video that can be enjoyed by family and friends. With 2 years of experience, Smartmat Media aims to introduce filmmaking techniques to wedding and corporate videos, exciting our clients with a cinematic experience.
As photography becomes affordable and easy to learn, we strive to stand out with works that are creative and unique, capturing moments that are priceless.
Smartpeeks allows guests to pen their well- wishes for the newlyweds in a ‘build- to- order’ guestbook. Pictures of your guests are instantly captured at the reception table. Keep your 'memories' alive as there are no limits to our team's creativity."

18 May 2009

My DIY dolly - and the difficulties in making it

I was excited to join the annual
48 hours short film competition for 2009. No, not because I enjoyed staying awake for 48 hours and pulling my hair out planning for the competition and production itself. One reason why I wanted to join was that there were more people who wanted to learn about filmmaking. This event would give them a good starting experience. In the end, I was glad that everyone enjoyed themselves and the friendship formed was well worth the tiring 2 days. I'm sure that all participating teams will agree that the experience gained is much more valuable than any awards won.

I also wanted to join 48 hours because I was in the mood to make a dolly - I just needed a reason and place to test it out. As the above pics shows, a dolly is a sort of trolley on tracks. It is widely used during filming cause it gives that cinematic, flying-thru-the-environment shot. Hollywood uses it intensely (along with cranes) and I have to admit, the difference in a scene is obvious with
and without these equipment. And you have to give it to the Americans. They can custom built anything. And of course, these indie filmmakers are willing to share that information on the Internet. If you google or youtube on how to make dollies, you will find numerous suggestions from many enthusiasts. So being the budget filmmaker that I am, I thought it would be cheaper to make my own dolly for use. The problem was, I had no skills in making one. Theory is one thing... making it hands on.... I am lucky that my bro-in-law, Zul, had the technical knowledge and interest to help me with this project. So we went about it. I researched on the functionality of a dolly while he thinks of the best way to build it.

You can find more information on dollies at the following website:

Picture link: http://www.queenpictoria.com/m&r/24MobiTrack/24MobiTrack.html

Forum link: http://www.cinematography.com/index.php?showtopic=36236

Trolley link: http://www.stormforcepictures.com/howto-buildacameradolly.php

To me, I had to get 4 things right. The wheels section need to function well. The tracks had to be smooth enough so that camera movement is not jerky. The base must be strong enough to hold a person and equipment. Lastly, it must be portable. Have to say, I am very happy with the end product. I did throw the portability aim out the window very early in the project. Maybe I dont have the knowledge, Singapore dont have the resources or I just didnt know where to look, in order to make it portable. The main mission of course, was to make it work!

I decided that I needed 2 two-metre tracks! Once I had the dimensions down, I went to a metal shop (at any industrial area like Eunos or Payar Lebar) and asked them to custom-make it for me. They will provide the metal and welding services. Zul then went to purchase the things needed to build the dolly. I was bent on skateboard wheels because from research, it provided the smoothest traction.. which it did.. at a cost! Not a skateboard person, I was really surprised at the cost of those little devils. 67 bucks for 4 wheels. I needed 16! Oh well, cant stop now. The project is in motion. I have to say, Zul is technically gifted. He drilled and joined those pieces together effortlessly. By competition day, it was done. And it worked like a charm.

Further improvements are needed. I couldnt smoothly join the 2 two-metre tracks together. So the dolly can only travel about 1+ metre. I want it to go further. Also, I have to make the metal rust proof by sandpapering and spray painting it. I should also make the dolly nicer by laminating and possibly adding an anti-slip mat on the base. For now, I am quite satisfied with my functional DIY dolly. Oh, you can see the dolly at work in the trailer below.

05 March 2009


Click here for more pics

2 March 2009 - One never has any mood to work on Mondays. Mondays, to me is the start of a 5-day work week that has you doing repetitive tasks; wake up in the morning, get read for work, go to work, come home tired, hang around the living room, sleep so one can wake up for work the next morning. That morning was different because it was First Takes night at The Substation. For those who are not familiar, The Substation organises a screening of short films by local film directors every first monday of each month. The programme manager is BK, a friendly bloke who welcomes anyone's works (as allowed by law).

I reached City Hall at ard 7pm. First Takes starts at 8pm so since I had lots of time to spare, I went to Funan's MacD for dinner. Ok, ok, straight to the films on show that night. I will talk about my most favourite. I voted for it and hope that it will be shown in Best of First Takes at the end of the year.

Platform 1932 is a documentary on Tanjong Pagar Railway station. The director, Nawwar Syahirah, made it for a school project. She wanted to show the rich history of the railway station and the people who grew up with and are related to the station. And she did it well. The documentary was informative and visual. I enjoyed watching the station master turned the trains around when they reached the end of the track. How did they do it? Well, they used a turn table. The story was also enjoyable because the director interviewed and featured different types of people who had their own unique sense of connection with the station. There was the station master, who still used the old type of pulley and key system during this current technological age. There was the convenience store owner and his son who had set up shop since the station's younger years. A man, whose father owned the railway station's only hotel; it was interesting watching him tell stories about a gurl he used to meet at the station and stories on the station being haunted. Then, there are these two boys who are part of a railway fan club. At first, I thought the club only had two members. hahaha. But documentary showed that it has a huge number of members who are mostly from Malaysia.

I chose the story as my favourite of the night because I can see that there was a lot of effort put into it. Even the titles were nicely designed, accompanied by a nice logo that represented a part of the station. The interviewees were of many different background so that added variety to the story. Information was also aplenty but not overwhelming. I never knew there were four statues that are part of the station. The director and her team did a wonderful job researching. The story had a nice flow. If the director wanted people to go to the station and just take in the atmosphere after watching her short film, well, she was successful. I certainly wanted to go to the station and walk around.

I feel that documentaries, like the one made by Nawwar Syahirah, are very important because it records and archives Singapore's history. Sometimes, we tend to progress too fast, leaving behind things that had touched our hearts when we were younger. I miss playgrounds that had sand, playing one leg catching when there was no PSP, throwing paper planes in class, etc. We need documentaries such as Platform 1932 to share our stories on how we lived our lives, how things were during our times, with the younger generation...

06 February 2009

Subtleties in Mat Superhero and Tak Dong Cheng

Being a diehard My Sassy Girl fan, I joined a fan created facebook group that discusses the movie. One of the wall posts lists down all the little subtleties and hidden messages of the movie. So I came up with a list too...heheheh. Me and Jas enjoy putting these little things into our movies cause...well, we enjoy it. Private joke and to those who want to take notice.

Subtleties in Mat Superhero

1) The colour of Jas's shirt went from bright and colourful at the beginning of the story, to dark and black. It is to show that his intentions were sincere and true at the start but became misguided at the end of Mat Superhero.

2) The end scene of our lead actress talking on the phone and talking about her failed engagement is actually the first scene of Mat Superhero. It happens before she leaves the house to commit suicide. It explains the reason why she wants to commit suicide and the conflict she faces between her Faith and succumbing to her emotions.

3) 3 different types of bags were used in the bag-snatching scene. We had to re-shoot that scene on another day because the original chase scene was too short. We forgot that the handbag belonged to the actress. So we had to improvise. One of the bags is my GS500 camera bag. hehehe.

4) The guy in red where Jas saved a gurl using the Singapore map is Farid. He is my good fren and the Farid character in TDC is based on him. In the end, our lovable Yazid Jalil pulled off a better performance.

5) The shoe that Jas threw at the gurl near the end of Mat Superhero is the same shoe that was used in the scene where Jas helped a tudung gurl replace her broken shoe. We want to show the crap things Jas keeps in his bag throughout MS. hahaha.

Subtleties in Tak Dong Cheng

1) Fitting the theme of multi-culturalness (is this even a word...), Yazid's lion dance costume has a batik design. It shows that a fusion between 2 cultures is possible.

2) Khai's (Jas's onscreen girlfriend) original character is suppose to wear the Muslim headscarf. Her character is strong in Malay culture but contradicts herself by showing that she has been influenced by Western media. For example, she talks about strong malay roots but enjoys eating pasta with a fork. She talks about Malay roots when she is mixed Indian blood. Even though her character is of a supporting role, we feel it has a deep history and background and can be elaborated further if a longer version of Tak Dong Cheng is made.

3) Yazid went to two sessions of lion dance practice while Gab wasnt able to attend due to his busy schedule. We used a body double for Gab during the lion dance stunts. Gab is actually an actor with no lion dance experience.

4) The sticker on the toy lion head that Yazid and Jas were holding says Sewel Road. Sewel is actually the title of a story me and Jas wanted to make before TDC. We postponed it cause there were lots of loose ends. We also wanted to fit in Mat Superhero's sequel in Sewel but couldnt find the right formula. Sewel is a malay word for crazy. The story is about a gurl who has an imaginary fren and how she tries to decide whether she should cure her sickness or accept it cause she is happy being with her imaginary fren.

First post in 2009 and a future project

My goodness, it is February 2009 already?!? How time flies. 2008 has been a good year, and prospects of 2009 looks exciting. What have I done other than my job? Played soccer to stay fit and joined this facebook society called Singapore Malay Film Society founded by Isnor. Fun stuff. I made lots of new friends, got involved in short films (and learning more stuff than ever about production), and was even interviewed on tv (my malay sucks. speaking 100% malay on tv was really tough. All thanks to the producer and crew for being so patient).

2008 has been very generous to TDC. It won audience favourite in best of First Takes 2008 and hopefully, its success will allow me and my smartmat Films team to embark on a more ambitious project we have in mind for 2009. I am excited because I got to know this wonderful director, Adrianna (a.k.a Nat). She is Isnor's friend and she made her first short film titled 'Videotape' last year. It was about a man having an alter ego. The story shows how he suffers from/embraces/understands/realises his sickness... at the expense of those around him of course. Though a bit artsy for mainstream audience (personally, i liked the story. I did, especially, enjoy the bed scene in the first few minutes. *wink*), Nat enjoys portraying an individual's inner self conflicts. In other words, deep. More impressively, the poetic narrations in the story is created by her. I like this sort of self conflict and deep thoughts in a story because it challenges the audience's minds. Rather this than brainless harold n kumar stories (i love harold and kumar but i feel that audience should sometimes watch 'stimulating' movies once in a while... mmm...there's a movie called Doubt coming soon that looks interesting. Wonder if I can trick someone into watching it with me... And there's the curious case of Benjamin Button. If it is compared to Forrest Gump, it must be good...Ok, I'm going off topic...).

So yes! I am excited that Nat is on board in our next project along with me and Jasmin (Farid's best friend in Tak Dong Cheng). She will add a whole new dimension to our story. At first, we had two stories in mind; one was feasible, achieveable and can be completed by 2009, the other is more ambitious but we love the storyline. We settled for what we loved of course. hehehe. We have already decided on the title: 'My First Lipstick'. It is a love story between a gurl and a guy (duh). The special thing about it is, just like Nat's short film, our gurl in lipstick has bipolar (a sort of split personality disorder). At the moment, I am still writing the story treatment. We welcome anyone who wants to help out in our journey :)

Join Singapore Malay Film Society: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=16987756594

Oh, I want to share my first 24-hour-no-rest-but-very-fun shoot experience but I'll keep it for another post.

04 October 2008

Roaring Success

The first time I saw Kallang Roar (KR) trailer, I went.. finally! a movie about local soccer. The last one was one leg kicking and even though some people disliked it, I like it cause it had that homely feeling. And when I found out that Cheng DinAn was the director of KR, I smiled to myself. I knew Cheng when I was studying in Perth and this guy is crazy bout soccer. A very good player at that. So i guess mixing his passion and making it into a movie should be fun...here are the questions I asked him.

Is this your first feature? Are there any of your other works that we can view or being showcased?
Yes, this is my first feature, fresh off KAllang roar the short film being nominated for top 7 best short films in Singapore Film festival

How large is the cast and crew for Kallang roar?
We are quite commando unit, so we have a relatively small crew, less than 40.

Which is more supportive of KR, govt bodies or sponsors?
I would say both has their good guys n bad guys hahaha!!
Luckily sports council, there was their CEO, and a Dr Bervyn, who saved us, allowing us usage of the National stadium for filming, as there wont be any movie.

For sponsors, Milo can forth with so much marketing, product, event sponsorship, and Canon bought out a Film magazine cover to co advertise our movie!!!

How tough was it working with green screen? How much time did that take up?
There was a curved stadium shot, which took us 4 hours and appeared on screen for 5 seconds. These are the 1 or 2 luxury shots that I am not very fond of spending on as i like to watch my budget.

Tell us something we do not know or cannot see during KR. Cameos maybe...
i am in the film, behind the goalpost as a cameraman taking photos.

How did you manage to pull off that 70s look? The wardrobe, props...
We had an experienced old Art director whos been with mediacorp for decades, and a very hardworking wadrobe lady who took charge of finding difficult to find wadrobe.

What are the roles you played in kallang roar other than being director?
scriptwriter. I wrote the story in between working freelance for 3 years. They announced the tearing down of Kallang stadium so i no longer could sit back and watch my slow ladder progress in film indsutry. so i stood up and went about finding ways to make the full feature.

What are the most memorable moments while making Kallang Roar?
The last day? upon the final moment, i would not say Cut...in fact i never say cut, ever.
I laid down on the orange track of a sports stadium and looked at the stars, as my actors n crew went around congratulating each other on the super tough journey... phew...my assistant director got his pants pulled off.

From concept to script to production to cinemas, how long did the whole process take?
Concept and script 3 years. The rest started in december and ended before august. We were trying to catch the national day in time.

What is your advice to aspiring film makers who wanna make features?
Hmm...Financial finding is the real challenge, and i will be honest with you, there are no rules or textbook methods. Solve this problem and you can embark and safely sustain your passion without incurring the term "poor film maker".

Any future projects? :)
no comment, wahahahha, finally get to use the word.

19 September 2008

Finding that perfect story..

Many people are impressed by the story of Brotherhood. The short film shows loyalty and easy to relate events accompanied with lots of action sequences. I got the chance to interview Shahrezza on his short film titled Consequences: Brotherhood and what inspired him to make this great story.

Did you write the script yourself?
The story is about my past life. My experience in life led me to write stories that i can tell visually. That is film-making.

In your opinion, what makes a good script?
One has to be a good scriptwriter. Everyone can write stories. A well written script gives an important edge to the story. Like for example, Consequences:Brotherhood, i wrote the story but my scriptwriter added more elements to it.

How was your experience managing and directing such a huge cast, especially since brotherhood consist of a few well known actors?
To me, the directing part was easy. You only need to explain the situation to the talents, get them in the right mood, motivate them and give encouragement. Sometimes if they are unsure what they are supposed to do, show them an example, or act out the scene to show them. For wellknown actors, you just need to give them the script and they'll know what to do. (haha)

Was the final product onscreen different from the script? Tell us how easy it is to bring it from script to screen.
Its very tough to bring content of the script onto screen. Though the script guides you, ultimately, you need to visualize the situation. Furthermore, you need to be creative and think out of the box. For example, if it suddenly rains, you need to change the script to suit the situation. Kind of difficult but the experience is fun.

Name me two of your fav movies and tell us why it is good to you.
I like Minority Report and 300. Reason, I just like it. :)

What advice can you give to those aspiring writers out there?
Keep on writing stories and let your stories be known.

Any future projects?
I'm currently producing a horror featured film entitled RED(Merah) which is directed by 5 upcoming directors. Its a Rezzuraction Pictures and Media Chantek Production. The project is currently on-going and the 1st director has finish the 1st act. 4 more to go.

Next is another featured film that is produced by Originasian Pictures and Rezzuraction Pictures titled Perkataan Cinta (The Word Love). The story is still in development and is scheduled to start production Jan 09. Upcoming talents such as Syed Azmir and Shaffira Jailani will lead the movie and will be supported by veteran actors, Dato' Jalaludin Hassan and Rafaat Haji Hamzah. Audition for other supporting roles for this featured will be held on the the 18 and 19 Oct 08. Those interest can email me at rezza@flavastudios.com.

For those who have not experienced an audition before, please email me at smartmat.films@gmail.com so I can share with you some pointers before you go for Rezza's auditions. Depending on my spare time, I will try to post some audition pointers on this blog.