In love with youth and laughter

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Playground Productions’ first telemovie has romance and laughter, writes Aref Omar

THE young team from Playground Productions, known for their Cameronian Arts Award-winning comedy ensemble, Projek Disko Baldi, has just ventured into TV land.

Aku Dia Dan Tong Sampah is a new telemovie about Sharnaz (played by Siti Saleha) and Amir (Beto Kusyairy), who have just come out of a long-term relationship with their respective partners.

They first meet while throwing their old love letters into a rubbish bin. They decide to help each other woo their former lovers back and in the process, they find new love.

The romantic comedy also stars Razif Hashim, Fauziah Nawi, Liyana Van Der Sijp, Zizi Zulkifli and Tania Zainal, with special appearances by Projek Disko Baldi and singer/songwriter Liyana Fizi.

Written by Nadia Khan (author of the novel, Kelabu, and published by Fixi), the telemovie was filmed in and around Kuala Lumpur and completed in August.

It marks the directorial debut for both Playground’s artistic director Megat Sharizal and 24-year-old newcomer, Ismail Jamaludin. Below Ismail talks about his eye for film:

How did you discover your talent for making films?
When I was young, I had a skin problem and had to stay at home for a year. All I did was watch TV and movies. In high school (he attended school abroad), I took a film course and found my passion — it just felt right.

Tell us about your background?
I graduated from Romania’s Universitate Nationale de Film si Televiziune I.L Caragiale (National Academy of Film and Television) two years ago. I then worked in Romania for a year and later in Rome for six months. In Malaysia I worked with Reservoir Production for three months in the advertising section before switching my focus to narrative filmmaking. Now I freelance. (His work can be viewed at www.ismailjamaludin.com).
Name those who have influenced you.  
Quentin Tarantino was a big early influence and my introduction to the crime genre which I really like. There are so many now — from Edgar Wright for the fast witty dialogue in Shaun Of The  Dead and Wes Anderson for his cinematography. I’m also influenced by the visual aspect of European films.

What attracted you to Aku, Dia Dan Tong Sampah?
The script. The dialogue was catchy. I wanted to try and show it in a visual sense. Since it’s a 90-minute telemovie, I wanted to see if we could complete the shoot in six days and incorporate quality in the acting and camera work and create the right atmosphere. The challenge attracted me.

What was the filming experience like?
Megat took care of the acting department since I haven’t been in Malaysia for very long. It was a real pleasure to work with him and to see his approach. The shoot went smoothly and the crew was happy and cooperative. It didn’t feel like going to work, more like meeting a bunch of friends to create something special. Liyana did the theme song and a friend of mine from Romania composed the original music.
What are you working on now?
A feature film project with Playground Productions. We’ll be working with director Nik Amir, who did Kil. It’s going to be a road film with UFOs. I’m also working on a short film for the BMW Shorties competition.

Future plans?
I’d like to try and improve the local film industry. But to do that I still have a lot to learn. I may spend about five years in Los Angeles to learn film craft.
At the same time — in a more ‘what if’ scenario — I’d like to have a sort of directors’ exchange between all young budding local directors to create a community. Looking at the bigger picture, I’d like to establish myself as a director here, to be able to tell stories my way and to push the boundaries a bit.

What’s your perception of the country after living abroad for so long?
I’m from KL but I’ve only spent about eight years of my life in the country. My mum’s a diplomat and my dad a business man, so I’ve followed them to China, Australia, Thailand and Romania.

Now that I’m older and more open to different things, everything feels new for me here.

It’s like falling in love and I cherish being home. I’m very proud to be Malaysian — I don’t intend to live anywhere else, and if I do, it’s just to learn and explore until I can bring it back here. I see room for improvement, which is a good thing, with lots of youthful energy.


Catch Aku, Dia Dan Tong Sampah at 8.30 tonight on TV9. Details at www. facebook.com/akudiatongsampah or www.facebook.com/pgroundproductions

Siti Saleha and Beto Kusyairy in a scene from Aku, Dia dan Tong Sampah


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