So 2021 has been weird, hasn’t it? Right when we thought that the nightmare that was 2020 was coming to a close, it came back with a vengeance, globally and locally. I cannot say that for me personally, things have been amazing, but I am in zero position to complain. It’s been chee. Let the recounting begin!
January both feels like a million years ago, and yesterday, at once. I check my instagram and there’s pretty much nothing of note there for January. My calendar does not say anything significant either. Even when listening to the Buah Mulut podcast, nothing very notable pops up.
I mostly just attended writer’s meetings throughout the month for the various TV projects that I’d eventually be writing on later in the year. I did some Pinball Monkeys recordings with Muzakir and Farid. And recorded a podcast episode as part of the Pinball Monkeys on Safehouse’s podcast called Mulut Murai. Fun stuff.
Bulan dua pun not very eventful jugak. Got the meetings. Got pitch deck-making. Got game nights, where Muzakir, myself and a few more friends played Jackbox games through Google Meets. Fun times.
In March things started kicking into gear sikit. I was on the set of Sa Balik Baju (which is now available for viewing on Netflix). This was an interesting project which started off as a stage play by Siti Afiza Asram. Then she brought the piece to a writing workshop yang dianjurkan oleh Redcomm, and it got expanded to a feature-length movie. I got a small role in it, being one of the hosts in a fictional gossip/talk show. I got to be on set with Alif Satar, Juliana Evans and Farah Rani. At the time of shooting it, we didn’t know where the movie was going to end up yet. After dah siap, baru Lina Tan and the gang shopped it around for any takers, and Netflix swooped in and bought it. So now I can say that I have acted in a Netflix film (although I will not admit to it, since it’s just a small role, with me having less than two minutes of screen time sahaja). It was certainly an unexpected thing to have happened to me, but I am mucho grateful that it did.
Later that month, I started work on the play Orang Bulan. I was cast opposite Kak Dzeelfa in the two-hander play. I like spending time with Kak Dzeelfa, she’s loads of fun to be around. It was directed by Chris Ling, stage managed by Maza Maamor (aka Zameer), assisted by Emma Raj (who I’ve grown to be good friends with), and sound designed by Kirthana. It was a good time, and we staged it at the end of April. The rehearsals were fine, but of course my anxious ass was worried about whether or not I’d be able to get off-book in time for the staging. I eventually did, but goodness gracious did I cut it real close.
Pasca Sini was involved in a show called “Lepas Gian” at Angkasa Cheras. That was our first show in MONTHS, and we certainly were able to Lepas Gian at that one. It felt so good to be on stage again playing music to people who gave a shit.
In April, Pasca Sini played another show, at Stesen Seni, Damansara Perdana. We played before Timemachine, and in our set were like four Blink182 songs. That was also a good time. I was finally able to learn some Blink182 songs, after putting it off for so long.
Pinball Monkeys performed our very first self-organised show on the 9th of April. It was a closed-door event, meaning that it was invite-only, but we managed to fill up Stesen Seni. We did live long-form improv in front of people again, and we had loads and loads of fun. I remember that there were sushi-serving lawyers, and a lot of imaginary boxes. The show tickets were by the pay-what-you-want model, and we even made a little itty bitty cheeky little profit from it, so we could pay for the venue and our improviser buddies, so that was uber cool. The audience was uber cool.
By the end of the month, we were staging Orang Bulan at PJ Performing Arts Centre di One Utama. It was the first time that the space (Nero Space) was being used to put up a play, and we did an okay job with it, selling out our nights there. I liked playing there, and I had fun staging the play with people that I liked being around and coming to watch me play a KL-speaking Moon Miner from the future. Good times.
Whoa, May was quite uneventful for me. Mostly just busy work in terms of pitch deck making, script prepping, script writing and meetings and that. Raya happened, which was fine. I don’t remember much of it. I just hung out with Taka and family and that.
The final week of May was also the start of the Ex Aku Pontianak writer’s rooms. Ex Aku Pontianak was a show that I conceived to pitch to Astro a couple of months prior, and they picked it up so we started writing it. It was my first time head-writing a project, so Shamyl Othman (the director) took a lot of the reins as I tried to settle into the leadership position that is the Head Writer.
The writer’s room sessions were conducted through Zoom, and lemme tell ya, I hate Zoom writer’s rooms. My focus went more out than in, and I was not fully there most of the time. I really disliked it. But we got through it, with the help of Shamyl and Suzanne, keeping me accountable. We finished the writer’s room sessions with some pretty alright episodes for us to work on, and we started work on the scripts the following month.
Early June was my first vaccination date. 6/6/2021. I went to IDCC Shah Alam and got my shot no problem. It was rather smooth sailing, as there weren’t many people there during my time slot. So I was in and out within 30 minutes.
I was also writing the launch episode of the Fourth Season of Club Mickey Mouse. They recorded it through Zoom and published it on Youtube. It was called Fanfest, where a bunch of the fans of CMM were involved in the playing of the games and such. Not many people watched, if I’m not mistaken. I’m just glad that it’s over and done with. Remembering it makes my bones tired.
I was also writing through the beats of Ex Aku Pontianak, making the building blocks of a story (hopefully) worth telling.
I was tasked to write 5 episodes of Ex Aku Pontianak (episodes 1, 2, 3, 8 & 9). The whole season ada 10 episodes, so I wrote half of it from scratch. Writing it was fun, because it was my first time writing dialogue for adults, as opposed to the children’s shows I’d been writing for thus far. It was certainly a different head-space to be in, and I found myself being able to do much more when writing for adults, so that was fun.
And as head writer, I also had to go through and “fix” the other scripts, so that the characters voices were consistent throughout the show, and that everything flowed the way that it needed to for smooth storytelling.
I was also writing some episodes for SMK Season 3. They were to be recorded via Zoom, so the approach to writing the episodes was rather novel to me. I think we ended up writing an engaging enough season, given the limitations that we had. Kudos to Suzanne for Head Writing the season.
I got my second AZ vaccine dose on the 8th of August. It was just as smooth sailing as the first dose, malah maybe it was even more smooth this time round.
I continued writing and revising the Ex Aku Pontianak episodes here also.
Also, the SMK Season 3 cast got new actors in, and one of them had to speak in an Utara accent, and I was tasked with coaching her Utara. She wasn’t too bad, just a few things here and there that were quite specific to Utara people ja that she got wrong and/or confused about. Generally, she was fine.
In September, I got cast in another play. It was called Logaritme Bebalisme, a ten minute play about a specific kampung during the height of the pandemic. I was acting alongside Shasha, and it was directed by Chris Ling and stage managed by Kir. We rehearsed throughout September, first through Zoom (I hate Zoom rehearsals), then IRL at Lot’ng.
I was putting the finishing touches on the Ex Aku Pontianak scripts, as well as writing for some SMK Youtube things.
We continued rehearsing for Logaritme Bebalisme this month, and staged it at Stor Teater Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka. It was part of a theatre competition that was organised by DBP, and Shasha and I were the oldest actors there. We eventually got second place in the competition, which was fine.
Ex Aku Pontianak commenced shooting this month. The shoot schedule was a month long, for ten episodes. I was on set for 3 or 4 days to play some roles in the show, so I’ll have some screen time here and there. The shoots proved to be tough on the team, but they powered through like the professionals they are.
The Ex Aku Pontianak shoots concluded mid-November. I was there for the last day of shoot, because I had a small role on the day. It was fun to watch and be around the energy that was there. I eventually balik awal (like, 3am maybe?) because my scenes dah habis record, so I wasn’t there when they presumably shouted IT’S A WRAP!
November was a month of pitch-deck making, so there’s not much to say there.
I also wrote an air-fryer online ad for Philips. So that was weird, but okay lah, one minute long ja the ad pun.
Early December, I took a couple days off work to go to Cameron Highlands with Taka for a weekend getaway of rest and chilling. It was a good time. We went to the Mossy Forest, and the Boh tea plantation thingy, and spent a lot of time just chillin’ at the hotel, napping, reading, resting. Good times.
I was also tasked with writing, directing and producing three social media videos for Redcomm during this time. It was three videos for three occasions: Christmas, New Years, and CNY. We’ve shot all three, published the Christmas one, and are waiting to put out the other two. I worked closely with Suzanne throughout the thing. Brain Wong and Izzaldin helped a bunch as well. We ended up with fun leel videos.
A sad note is when the floods happened in the Klang Valley area this month. My car got stranded at a cemetery parking lot (safe from the flood, fortunately), and I had to walk back home. I was very fortunate that I was able to walk home. Many people were stranded without a place to go. Some completely lost their homes. And I didn’t know how to help.
I just tried my best to amplify the people that needed the most help on twitter, and tried to do my best to help out secara langsung in my own limited capacity. It sucked not having a humongous amount of resources to help more people. It absolutely sucked.
But it was beautiful to see how people banded together and helped each other out. I had a front row seat to that, and it was wonderful. I hate that it took a natural disaster and systemic failure for this to show itself, but it was still beautiful to see. When people help people, people win. Fuck the people in power. Anarchy is the way to go.
Besides that, I also read a 70-chapter novel and wrote a summary of it. I enlisted the help of Emma to do a percentage of it, and we got it done in two days. It was tough, but we got through it. And hopefully the project takes off next year, and we can turn it into something worth watching.
And that was 2021. It was mostly filled with written-work things. Not a lot of stage work, since the cases were soaring throughout the year, and the lockdowns came back again and again. One hopes that next year is better for everyone. Fuck the patriarchy, fuck the ruling class, fuck capitalism.