What do you get when you bring together big names, film students, a 24-hour Malay movie channel and a major network?
Featuring six popular early to mid-career Malaysian directors, Astro Citra‘s brand new Karya 12 comprises twelve telemovies — six made by popular local directors, six made with these directors and their protegees, selected from local universities. It’s perhaps the biggest single project dedicated to telemovies the nation has seen thus far and all twelve films will start appearing on Astro Citra and Mustika HD from the end of April onwards.
Conceived last year, Karya 12 began in November with a pitching session conducted across six local universities. From the proposals they received, the six directors — Bernard Chauly, Sabri Yunus, Michael Ang, Yusry Abdul Halim, Osman Ali and Ghaz Abu Bakar — picked a project each to oversee, guide and shoot. But in addition to the mentorship program, these directors were also made to direct telemovies of their own for the project.
“Saya rasa sangat kecil berbanding dengan pengarah-pengarah di sini yang menang award dan berjaya di box office… rasa kecil saja walaupun saya besar,” quipped director Michael Ang in the presence of his peers.
As one of few non-ethnic Malay directors actively working on Malay content, Michael is known for drawing in the numbers with television dramas such as Suami Sebelah Rumah and M.A.I.D. His track record for the silver screen however is growing; on top of producing Erra Fazira-led horror Anak, he directed Astro Shaw‘s upcoming Hantu Rumah Sakit Jiwa.
On the comparative lack of Malaysian-Chinese directors in the Malay entertainment industry, Michael tells us it’s not so much an issue of language but culture. He also claims his advantage came from growing up with a Malay community present through his formative years.
“Getting into the market isn’t impossible, because language is not a barrier in directing — all it calls for is for an understanding of the story and concept. What’s difficult is adapting to the conversation, lifestyle and the culture.”
Michael notes that there is still some diversity in representation behind the camera, singling out directors such as Saw Teong Hin, James Lee and Bernard as examples of local talents who have done significant work in Malay entertainment.
For Karya 12, Michael will be helping student Chen Yong Jiam with his Roti Canai Love Story, an interracial romance revolving around the popular Malaysian dish. His solo effort however will be Kulit, a horror film starring Nabila Huda.
Bernard Chauly on the other hand shot his telemovie in Greece and also scored Malaysian actors Bront Palarae and Fazura for his telemovie, Eropah Aku Sampai. Known for iconic, cinematic romances such as Istanbul Aku Datang and Manisnya Cinta di Cappadocia, the award-winning director sought to tackle current issues with his involvement in Karya 12.
Describing his piece as a character-driven story about refugees seeking safety on the Greek island of Leros, Bernard also scored Greek actress Lila Baklesi and Turkish actor Aziz Capkurt for his telefilm.
“Filem saya tentang situasi pelarian Syria dan Afghanistan,” informed the director. “It’s about someone being forced to leave the place he comes from; it’s a statement on people arriving on European soil in search of better living conditions.”
Shot over a period of ten days, Eropah Aku Sampai will be aired exclusively as part of Karya 12 on Astro Citra, ruling out possibilities of a cinematic release in the vein of Suamiku, Encik Perfect 10 despite its promise.
Bernard and his protegee Mohamad Safwan Mohd Salleh meanwhile also worked on polishing Chalie, the latter’s script revolving around a stormy relationship between two young romantics starring Christina Suzanne. Utilising messaging app Whatsapp to communicate for the most part due to their busy schedules, Bernard gave Safwan independence once he deemed the young man confident enough to tackle his shoot.
According to Khairul Anwar Salleh, Vice President of Astro’s Malay Content Division, each telemovie cost between RM100,000 to RM150,000. The move is meant to give young filmmakers the push they need and inadvertently lift their filmmaking standards through exposure to industry professionals.
“Kami di Astro yakin, dengan peluang yang diberikan ini, anak-anak muda terumatanya dari kalangan graduan jurusan seni filem dan media mempunyai ruang untuk mempraktikkan setiap ilmu yang ditimba sebelum ini dan membuktikan kemampuan masing-masing untuk menembusi pasaran komersial dalam kadar waktu yang dilihat agak berpatutan dan wajar.”
Khairul also hopes that Karya 12 contributes positively towards the future of Malaysia’s filmmaking industry.
During the gala event at Golden Screen Cinemas, Pavilion last week, the first half an hour of Sabri Yunus’s
Pangkalan Sekuntum Mawar, Sepucuk Pistol Pangkalan Batu Enam and his protegee’s Wau Kasih were screened to members of the media.
Karya 12 will begin airing every Saturday and Sunday at 10:00pm from 30 April onwards, exclusively on Astro Citra (Channel 131) and Mustika HD (Channel 134).