SHORT FILMS: Young Malaysians build self-confidence, hone communication skills and teamwork through the use of digital video technology
SABAHAN Wong Vei Ling, 17, tends to shy away from being in front of the camera.
But the quiet fifth-former from SMK Kuhara, Tawau does not seem to mind being behind a video camera and capturing interesting stories with it.
Wong fell in love with videography at the age of 14 after he represented his school in Kid Witness News (KWN), a competition organised jointly by Panasonic Malaysia and the Education Ministry, four years ago.
He has never passed up the chance to join the contest since.
“Video is a powerful way of sharing stories with the public,” says the aspiring television producer.
Wong is one of 115 shortlisted KWN contestants from 53 schools nationwide who gathered in Shah Alam recently for a five-day intensive video-making camp.
Introduced in Malaysia eight years ago, KWN gives primary and secondary schoolchildren from government schools a chance to make their own films every year.
The programme is structured to help young people build self-confidence, hone communication skills and teamwork through the use of digital video technology.
“We aim to inspire creativity in the young,” says corporate communications and branding general manager Azizah Wahid.
Some 5,000 Malaysian youth have used the latest Panasonic digital equipment to produce shorts — in the form of drama, documentary and interviews, among others — to date.
Schools are selected based on the storyboards they submitted.
Of the 700 schools which registered for the contest online, more than 300 sent in over 400 storyboards.
Only 55 teams were picked to attend the workshop conducted by industry experts comprising local filmmaker Othman Hafsham, theatre and education practitioner Normah Nordin, film lecturer Imri Nasution, Head of Documentary and Television Camera unit at TV3 Abd Aziz Hassan and Md Rashid Ahmad, as well as film editor and coach Isazaly Mohd Isa.
Students learned the basics of video production, which includes scriptwriting, storyboarding, editing, music and sound mixing, camera work and technical skills during the workshop.
Participants were able to put their new-found knowledge into practice during the group assignments, which comprised of indoor and outdoor shooting.
Each student was given a role, such as cameraman, scriptwriter, music coordinator, production director, editor and anchorperson, and these were rotated among the members with each project.
The trainers screened and reviewed the videos and provided each team with constructive feedback.
The teams were expected to perform pre-production, production and post-production work independently once they return to their hometowns after the camp ended.
Participants have until late July to submit their completed videos. Winners will be awarded in a ceremony in September.
The grand prize winner will represent Malaysia and vie for the best global award at the regional contest in December.
Teachers laud the programme for exposing students to new experiences such as the real-time chat session between 40 KWN Malaysia participants and pupils from Morimura Junior High School in Yokohama, Japan, which was deemed a great success as there was “enthusiastic response” from the two sides.
The Malaysians prepared cultural performances such as demonstrations of wayang kulit, congkak and kompang.
The Japanese KWN participants reciprocated with a brief presentation on Yokohama and the environmental issues it faces.
“Students also got the chance to shoot 3D videos during the camp this year,” says Azizah.
V Mohan Raj, who teaches English at SMK Sultan Sulaiman, Kuala Terengganu, says KWN is a great channel for releasing creativity.
“Video-making appeals to the young because it allows them to communicate their ideas in innovative ways. It also opens their eyes to non-traditional careers,” he adds.
Tamil and English language teacher Nagalingam Alagendran from SK Riam Batu Dua, Miri, considers the workshop a confidence booster for introverted children.
“My pupil Tiatira Elia Gending is shy but she has come out of her shell and started voicing her ideas since joining the camp. This is a great place for pupils from Sarawak and Sabah to mix with children in Peninsular Malaysia,” he says.
Fourth-former Gai Vincent from SMK Sultan Sulaiman is thrilled to be a part of the camp.
“I learned a lot in terms of video editing. My skills are not perfect but it is a start,” says the 16-year-old who dreams of a career in digital animation.
Jessica James Sikain, who teaches Additional Mathematics and Information and Communications Technology at SMK Kuhara, Tawau, says that her students have gained useful pointers on improving their storyboard on the lepa-lepa boats, which are also home to the Sea Bajau community.
She hopes that the team will emerge as finalists and win a prize at the national challenge.
“All the schools have shown maturity in their scriptwriting and video editing skills, but I think we have a fighting chance,” says Jessica.
As for Wong, he hopes focusing on the Sea Bajau lifestyle will introduce “a portion of Sabah to the world”.