So I recently watched the movie that won Best Picture at the recent Academy Awards ceremony called Spotlight. It’s a portrayal of actual events of the work done by a newspaper team in Boston uncovering the actions of the Catholic Church who covered for their priests who were regularly molesting children. It’s a really cool story if you’re into that kind of thing, with a really great cast who carried the story in a respectable manner, in the sense that they understood that the story was bigger than themselves, and so they did not allow their own strong personalities to steal the story’s spotlight (pardon the pun).
And since I’ve been in this “movie/motion picture” kind of mood lately (triggered by the Oscars), I had thoughts of making short-films. I’ve shot several videos throughout my life now, but not a single short film yet, and I feel that if I want to take this movie-making seriously, the first step would be to make a short film. And so I went back to watch two of my favourite Malaysian-made short films, Mat Luthfi’s Rokok Dan Kopiah as well as Yasmin Ahmad’s Chocolate.
When I first saw these short films, I was in awe of how amazing they were, the main question in my brain being: how do you write something like that? It seemed beyond me to understand how a person can make short films (or at least good ones).
But after re-watching them as I did a couple of nights ago, I couldn’t help but notice some flaws here and there, things that I would have probably done differently, would have re-written, re-shot or whatever. This is most probably my hubris acting up again, but it sort of made me feel like, hey, I could probably pull something like this off.
I shared those two videos on Youtube and a person shared with me her favourite Malaysian-made short film. It was called “Kingyo” and was written and directed by a Malaysian dude by the name of Edmund Yeo. It was a story about a couple of people in Japan who were talking about the past and how their relationship and circumstances has changed since their initial breakup. My summary of it doesn't do it any justice, so I would recommend you watching it if you’re curious.
Kingyo was definitely more complex in its composition, both in writing and directing, but it was still simple enough to be able to follow from the beginning to end. They were able to achieve that because it was a longer film kot, but still, I appreciate it very much.
It also made me wonder about how this Malaysian person who was able to tell a very Japanese-y story with an entirely Japanese production crew as well as cast, set in Japan. I found his take on the story rather beautiful, and how a foreigner was able to capture all that within 25 minutes was mind-boggling (I hyperbolise, but yeah it made me wonder).
The person who tweeted me the video also inadvertently introduced me to an app called “viddsee" (because the short film could only be watched on that platform). It’s a neat app that collects lots and lots of short-films that were made from all around Asia, and anyone who has the app is able to watch all these shorts for free. It’s a treasure-trove for a short-film geek, or anyone who is interested in Asian stories in general, so if you’re into that kind of thing, I would definitely give this app a go.
Going back to my feelings of hubris, I feel ready to make short-films and suck at doing it. I only need to start writing them and think about how to pull them off later. And therein lies the real challenge. Starting.