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Syafiq Yusof, the youngest son of filmmaker Yusof Haslam, will release his debut thriller on the first day of Hari Raya, writes Dennis Chua
SYAFIQ Yusof, the third and youngest son of iconic filmmaker Datuk Yusof Haslam, will be releasing his directorial debut, Saya Amat Mencintaimu (SAM), in cinemas nationwide on the first day of Hari Raya. .
As the country’s youngest feature film director, he has earned a place in the Malaysia Book Of Record. Syafiq was 18 when he shot the movie in 36 days during Ramadan last year.
Elder brother, Syamsul Yusof, is already a household name (Best Director at the Malaysian Film Festival 2010) with the top grossing Malay movie, KL Gangster.
SAM stars Syafiq’s elder brother Syamsul, Shaheizy Sam, Lisa Surihani, Azad Jazmin, Neelofa Mohd Noor, Fimie Don, Harun Salim Bachik, Lydiawati, Mubarak Majid and Zulkifli Ismail.
Syafiq, a student of film and media at the Kuala Lumpur Metropolitan University, says he is excited about his big screen debut.
“It was actually my father’s idea, but he gave me a free hand to develop it though and shared ideas on how to improve it. Syamsul gave me lots of guidance too,” he said at the film’s launch in GSC Mid Valley, Kuala Lumpur. Also at the event were Yusof, Syamsul, Sam, Lisa, Fimie, Azad, Anuar and KRU’s Yusry Abdul Halim.
Before directing Sam, a joint production of Skop Productions and E-Mas, Syafiq had made short films like Abangku Gangster (2010), Along (2011) and Sakit (2011). He also co-directed some episodes of Gerak Khas and music videos for Anuar Zain (Ajari Aku, Sempurnakan Aku) and Datuk DJ Dave (I Will Always Love You, Nyawaku).
Syafiq also wrote scripts and did special effects for Skop productions and acted in police drama series Roda-Roda Kuala Lumpur.
The RM1.9 million film’s theme song, Ajari Aku, is performed by Anuar. Sempurnakan Aku is also in the movie soundtrack.
The 29th Skop production, Sam is a thriller about love and obsession. Sam Nasir is the manager of a printing company. He is dating his assistant Lisa (Lisa) but does not realise that she is also being courted by her ex-boyfriend, Jeffri (Syamsul), and a tardy executive, Haikal (Azad). When Sam and Lisa are captured by a mysterious masked man, Jeffri and Haikal suddenly find themselves caught up in a sinister plot.
Syafiq chose Sam, Lisa and Syamsul as they had always been his “dream team”. “Sam and Lisa are very versatile actors while Syamsul is ‘the man’,” says Syafiq, adding that “it’s always good to have Syamsul on board as we grew up making short films together”.
Syamsul says he is happy that Syafiq is up to the challenge. “I gave him a lot of tips. Just as how our father encouraged me to be my own man, I encouraged Syafiq to be his own too. I feel that personal experience, going through trials and errors, are the best teachers.”
The biggest challenge Syafiq faced during the filming was getting the fight scenes right.
“We had to do the fight scenes to perfection, and we filmed them in the old printing section of the New Straits Times. It was the fasting month and this taxed us.”
Syafiq says Syamsul, Lisa and Sam are true professionals who always discussed the development of their characters with him.
“Their vast experience helped make my task easier. Nevertheless, we all worked very hard and I even slept in my office,” he says, adding that he’s humbled by his feature film debut and now realises that no director intentionally produces a “bad film”.
He says: “All filmmakers face lots of challenges and they do their best with whatever resources they have. This is why I never look down on filmmakers but give them encouragement instead.”
Shaheizy says he identifies with the protagonist character, a tortured soul. “He was abused as a boy and his parents are dead. That’s why Lisa is his everything and he will go the extra mile to keep her by his side.”
The film, he adds, highlights important social messages and this was what made him want to be part of the project. “There are many people with mental illness and we should be kind and caring to them. We should avoid bullying our co-workers just because they are ‘different’.”
Shaheizy, who will appear in Kisah Paling Gangster next, is looking forward to working with Syafiq again. “He is very much an actor’s director — open-minded, organised and meticulous,” he says.
Lisa, who is marking her Skop Productions debut and will soon appear in Istanbul Aku Datang, says she had a great time working with Syafiq.
“He is focused and knows what he wants for every scene. I’ll definitely be back for the next Syafiq movie,” she says.
Fimie says he is honoured to star as young Sam. “I’ve always wanted to act with Sam, Lisa and Syamsul as they are the best actors around. I enjoyed working with Diana Danielle in Magika and she is a good teacher,” he says.
Yusof says Syafiq has proven that he is dedicated to his work and he sees great potential in his son’s filmmaking career. “While Syamsul can direct and act, Syafiq prefers to work behind the scenes. I guess that’s his forte and I’m confident he will go far.”