Written by Shaun Lim Thursday, 10 March 2016 10:36
Editor's Note: Creating content for Projek Brunei is a process. Since the launch of this website in 2010, we have featured over 80 different stories. Each story is different, but there are two connecting themes. The stories are about people who are not afraid to step outside of their comfort zone, and about people who take action. This story is about Amali Roslin, the co-founder of Beluneu Films.
What do you do?
I graduated from UBD with BA Professional Communications and Media. I co-founded Beluneu Films, but I’m currently focusing on running UBD TV, which is another venture that I founded. I’m not a movie buff, but I’m obsessed with making films. Hollywood is my obsession and so much so that I’m constantly analysing their products to see what it is that makes them aesthetically pleasing to me.
How and when did your interest for film begin?
At the heart of it, I was interested in the performing arts and the entertainment industry since Form 6 where did live performances in music. Speaking about entertainment, music and film goes hand-in-hand. Thus, I felt that there was a natural progression into film. But I oscillate between the two from time to time as I enjoy both equally.
My interest in filming began when I got my first laptop, which was in the year 2011. My first editing job was using a consumer software for a university assignment for my sister. During that period also, there was a DSLR revolution with the release of Canon 5D MKII where movies and tv series in Hollywood started experimenting using the camera in their productions. Likewise, in Brunei I have to owe Visual Dimensions (Adam Groves) for spearheading the movement here through his web-series. That, and Adam, I guess piqued my interest and inspired me to try filmmaking.
Tell us about the start of your journey.
As with a number of my peers, it started from doing video assignments for modules that I took in UBD. My major was in media and communications but I made my first video for a policy assignment which was at a neighbouring faculty. At that point my only ever experience were with digital cameras, using the auto settings.
I happened to watch the “Band of Brothers’ Making Of” on tv. That was where I learned the aspects of filmmaking particularly in editing. From that I started to understand elements such as tone, framing and visual effects, how they enhance the story and give a particular visual character to a series or film. From then on, I called myself a video editor.
Ever since I started to edit my first video, I was obsessed in achieving the “Film Look” where I would be googling and youtubing for tips and tricks in getting that Hollywood look. That, coupled with tv shows about filmmaking, gave me the knowledge that I needed at that time. As an editor first, with the fact that I didn’t own a DSLR, I needed to team up with someone that owns a DSLR and has the same outlook towards filmmaking. That was when I met my colleague and cinematographer Abu.
We have the same passion in filmmaking and similarly understood how a final piece of video is made. With a couple of my other friends we founded Beluneu. There we made our first short using a DSLR with relatively minimal filmmaking experience. There was a mix of creative energy from everyone which is always a good thing, and from there on, my journey as a filmmaker started.
What inspires you?
There are a lot of things and people that inspires me. When it comes to influential people, I’d say directors such as Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, James Cameron and Quentin Tarantino. Recently Christopher Nolan, JJ Abrams, Ben Stiller, David Fincher, Ryan Connolly, Wes Anderson, Stanley Kubrick, Guy Ritchie, Akira Kurosawa, Francois Truffaut and Baz Luhrman, all to name a few.
Some actors inspire me to want to make films because they’re just so good and almost always gives the best performances. They are Leonardo DiCaprio, Heath Ledger, Christian Bale, Hugh Jackman, Cate Blanchett, Amy Adams, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Johnny Depp, Jack Nicholson, Matt Damon, Al Pacino, Damien Lewis, Brad Pitt, Ryan Gosling, Kirsten Wiig, Bradley Cooper, Guy Pearce, Collin Farrell, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Kate Winslet, Isla Fischer, Charlize Theron, Marion Cotillard, Keira Knightley, Olivia Wild, Anne Hathaway, Eva Green, Jessica Chastain, Brittany Snow, Anna Kendrick, Emma Thompson, Tom Hiddleston, Emma Watson and Rose Byrne, from the top of my head that is.
When it comes to shows, it has to be the insightful ones that you find online like Film Riot and the other how-to shows. Of course as I’ve mentioned earlier, The 'making of' and 'behind the scenes' are always a good way to learn how to make a film. Then there are shows like Science of the Movies that discusses not just the techniques, but the science that goes behind filmmaking.
Then there’s the movies such as Inception, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Shutter Island, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Great Gatsby, The Dark Knight and many more others from the directors mentioned earlier. Miniseries such as Game of Thrones, Boardwalk Empire, Band of Brothers, Newsroom and the likes.
Tell us about Beluneu Films.
Beluneu Films is a company that I co-founded with a couple of my other close friends namely, Abu Wafiq and Shariza, where we invested together in the hopes of making it bigger one day. At the moment, we are on hiatus and will probably turn away from big projects as we’re concentrating on our own endeavours at the moment.
Basically we strive to produce the best quality, high-standard visual works. What we are working towards is to produce feature films that are Hollywood-worthy. Thus, the journey is still long and there are still plenty to learn.
As of now, I’m concentrating on my project of setting up UBD TV which is a media establishment housed in UBD.
What projects have you done so far?
Our personal projects include two short films The Same Song and Woebegone, based on the original ideas by Wafiq and Shariza, respectfully. We’ve also done a couple of wedding coverage and a live event coverage.
We’ve also collaborated with The Creative Core BN (TCCBN) which is a startup that focuses on highlighting individuals in the creative industry and to become the core for creativity for Brunei. We did a series called I.Am and did an event Dancersmeet with them. From the name, it was basically a season where the focus was on dancing and the stories of the featured dancers. Our part was the video production where we were able to gain a lot and learned a valuable amount of filmmaking production techniques. It was a great project and we hope to find some ways to work with them again in the future, definitely.
Our best work so far has to be Colours of UBD. A video made for a competition in UBD, which was taken to compete in the Best Institution Corporate Video at the QS Maple forum at Doha, Qatar. the video was awarded Bronze.
What are some challenges you face when it comes to filming?
It depends on the type of shoot and what the shooting is for. But the start is always hard. As is with all art forms, to come up with a full concept is always challenges. Our shorts, for instance, it was quite difficult to write a script and screenplay because none of us had the experience in it. Then to write it in a way that it can be visualise is very difficult, especially for me since my storytelling is still weak.
For the most of it, like the I.Am series for TCCBN, the challenge was mostly to fit with the look and tone that they were opting for. Because my style is heavy-contrasting look, very serious, whereas theirs are more light-hearted and fun. But for that type of shooting, the main challenge was not having enough manpower and not having the right type and amount of gears/equipments that we wanted. In a series like that, the first day of shooting is very difficult especially when you you’re not quite sure how things are going to go and can’t really predict how things will pan out. The first day is always tiring as you’re trying to figure out what are the best ways to shoot it and how to manage the time, because again, we weren’t sure how it will look like.
Speaking of time, for everyone who’s starting, it’s always a luxury. You don’t seem to have enough time to do what you want to do. And as they say, the final product is never finished. Even until today and years to come, I would still have that lingering thought that I could do more with it. Which is good because that will become a checklist in my head of do’s and don’ts.
For something like the Colours of UBD, the challenge was to bring a fresh derivative on a cliché concept. Because one, we had to adhere to the criteria, two, we weren’t sure if the audience would understand what we try to convey as there were no voiceovers and texts. Thirdly, the biggest challenge was the actors. We had to capture UBD in a sense conveying what Colours of UBD means to us, so we wanted to go with the concept that the people are what colours UBD. But since it was the semester break, we couldn’t get any more than two actors on call. Luckily, there were still a number of people going to the institution and so many thanks to them, we had faces and people in our video.
Basically, the challenges are the lack of experience with storytelling, semi-professional videography gears and equipments, and getting enough people to participate in our productions. However, all these challenges has their merits and that because of them, I now can visualise a production timeline and make it as efficient as I could.
Any upcoming projects?
For the other venture that I’m doing for UBD TV, we’re pretty much occupied until August 2016, at least.
Recently we’ve launched our music project and released our first episode on 6th February 2016. The projects ends with the last episode to be uploaded March 26th. Following that, we’ll be doing a mini-documentary promoting selected clubs and student bodies in UBD, so that future students as well as current students will be more informed about them. The project is part of our flagship online show on YouTube called Everything UBD. So for that, we’ll commence by the end of February and will end by July-August 2016.
Lastly, our first and will be our biggest event is the Film Festival that we’re planning for August, just to top off our year. It will be in commemoration with the 30th Anniversary of UBD, 1st Year anniversary for UBD TV and to top it all to celebrate the 2016 graduates. This project is a collaboration with TCCBN as well as supported by Candas. It’ll be featuring up and coming young local filmmakers, as well as selected UBD student films.
All our work can be viewed from the UBD TV YouTube channel and Facebook.
What advice would you give to a fellow aspiring film-maker?
I’m not really an advice-giver. But what I can is suggest and share my goal with others.
We are at the dawn of something great. Local talents are slowly getting recognise and the appreciation for filmmaking is increasing, thanks to a notable few who’s pushing the filmmaking industry up.
Let’s huddle and grow this industry together not just because it is our passion, but because we want to inspire others in taking the leap with us in making a career in this industry a reality.
Let’s not just create for the sake of creating, but let’s create for the sake of improving by making collaborations, upgrading our standards and assisting one another. Let’s not restrict ourselves to what we already know, but let’s push the creative boundaries to the limitless possibilities.
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