I have been trying to develop three movies recently and hopefully, at least two will come to fruition. The first one will be quite interesting to say the least because it will be collaboration between three countries – the first of its kind in Malaysia I think.
The movie is, of course, based on my popular TV series Bilik No. 13.
This time around, I am going regional. The working title would be Bilik No. 13 – The Movie. Mainly because I need to attract the million viewers who tuned in to the series weekly when it was on the air on RTM.
I know that there’s a lot of crap out there in the cinemas, especially for this genre that I love, but I believe the approach we have is interesting to say the least.
The movie, if and when it is receives a green light, will be participated by three producers (including myself). The other two will be a producer from Indonesia and Hongkong.
Both producers (in Indonesian and Hongkong) are well known producers, especially the one from Hongkong. My partner, Ken Yap, went recently to the former British colony, during the Hongkong Film Market, and met up with this producer and another young up-and-coming director for a four hour meeting, discussing the possibility of him participating in the film project.
It was a most exciting meeting for Ken, because not only was he actually talking to a legend and was talking about making movies with this guy. And the best thing was that this Hongkong legend has verbally agreed to be a part of the project as he found the project most interesting.
I, too, have just returned from Jakarta taking a second meeting with the Indonesian producer who has shown keen interest in participating in the movie. He is excited and has already begun developing it on his side, getting budgets, costing and casting considerations. A famous director known for making horror movies known for dire has also agreed to be part of the project though he is still having a hard time trying to find the right story.
The format is simple. Three psychologists, one from Malaysia, the others from Indonesia and Hongkong, meet up at a breakaway session in an international conference on mental illness. The breakaway session is in Room 13 of the hotel. They discuss about the effect localize culture and beliefs has on mental patients who have a penchant for believing paranormal events.
Each doctor decides to tell the others, his most baffling case.
The three cases become the three stories in the movie ala 4bia or Three. Each story is estimated at 25 minutes each
So this time around, viewers in Indonesia, Malaysia and Hongkong will get to see the work of filmmakers from these three countries.
Already, the Indonesian filmmaker is talking about making his segment better than his Malaysian counterpart as his reputation as a top director of horror movies in Indonesia is at stake – it is a challenge he relishes and a competition that is much welcomed and friendly.
I have written my segment and is still thinking which of the two screenplays I have written would be ideal. One, which I gave the title “The Tutor” is very Western – influenced much by filmmakers like Del Toro and Hitchcock. The other is very local, yet with J-horror influence. My friends who have read the stories prefer the latter because The Tutor, could actually be made into a full blown feature, because it is scarier and deserves its own feature film release. Furthermore, the second is very Melayu and may be interesting for the viewers in Hongkong and maybe Indonesian.
So most probably, my other screenplay entitled Polong, will be selected. A simple, yet gothic albeit Asian gothic, horror piece.
The Hongkong segment is based on an idea and story written by my friend, Ken. The story is very interesting and very Chinese. Furthermore, since his discussion with the Hongkong filmmakers, the story has been improved by leaps and bounds.
My hope in producing this movie is that for once, a Malaysian film makes an impact in these territories – Indonesia (the so-called Holy Grail for Malay movies) and Hongkong, and of course its own home market attracting non-Malay viewers.
I am not trying to hope that the movie gets shown and bought by the Americans or the Europeans. Just these three countries pun dah cukup. I will be more than happy.
Each segment will be shot in languages that are their own – the Indonesian version will have Indonesian dialogue, the Hongkong segment will be shot in Cantonese and our segment in Bahasa Melayu. The segment that links the three stories together will be shot in English.
I hope things will go well, and the movie gets approval from my investors. If they agree, the movie will be launched by end May and cameras will role within the month after that. The launch will get regional, if not international press, and it will mark a new beginning for me as a producer and filmmaker.
Your support, and those who enjoy watching good local movies, will be most appreciated and welcomed.