What if the skin used for wayang kulit puppets are made from human instead of the usual buffalo or goat hide? That is the premise for director Michael Ang’s upcoming telemovie Kulit.
“It’s a horror movie that is more frightening than gory,” he shared at an interview in Kuala Lumpur.
Ang’s Kulit is part of Karya 12, a telemovie campaign by Astro Citra in which the channel funds the making of 12 telemovies by six renowned directors who will then mentor selected film students to helm the additional six films.
The established directors are Ang, Ghaz Abu Bakar, Yusry Abdul Halim, Bernard Chauly, Sabri Yunus and Osman Ali.
Khairul Anwar Salleh, Astro’s vice president for Malay Language Business, said the campaign is all about nurturing new talents. He is optimistic it will benefit the local film industry in the long run.
He said: “There are so many great talents out there that will go to waste if we don’t start developing them. We at Astro believe in giving the chance to young talents to practise what they have learned and prove themselves.”
Apart from access to notable directors, the students will also get the chance to work with movie stars like Nora Danish, Fazura, Remy Ishak, Fathia Latiff, Farid Kamil and Pekin Ibrahim. Once completed, all 12 telemovies will be screened on Astro Citra.
Ghaz – who directed Malaysia’s highest-grossing film Polis Evo – described Karya 12 as something that is close to his heart. This is understandable as he was, at one time, a creative multimedia lecturer at Multimedia University.
“When I found out that the project is about getting local filmmakers to mentor film students, I was sold. I know the importance of a project like Karya 12,” he added.
Ghaz will be directing action-comedy Lampu Merah while his mentee Mohd Shafiq Shamsul will focus on a drama about a family curse in Syahadah Yang Hilang.
Meanwhile, Bernard’s project is titled Eropah, Aku Sampai, which is partly inspired by the Syrian refugee crisis. It’s shot in Greece and headlined by Bront Palarae as a humanitarian volunteer.
“It’s a character-driven story where Bront’s character is forced to realign his perspective after meeting a refugee and his daughter,” explained Bernard.
He will be mentoring Mohamad Safwan (from Universiti Malaysia Sarawak) whose telemovie Chalie has lined up actors Cristina Suzanne and Akhmal Nazri as an estranged couple.
The rest of the telemovies in Karya 12 is a mix of different genres and subjects.
Yusry’s Rong Ples, Rong Taim, starring Chelsia Ng and Rani Kulup, for example, is a comedy about a robbery that goes wrong. His protege, Amirul Nasrullah from Universiti Teknologi Mara, is tackling science fiction with Alien Janda Baik which sees an extra terrestrial disguising as a human.
Osman prefers to delve into the dark thriller genre with Bidadari, a story set in the 1960s. He helps his mentee Syahrin Zainurin from Aswara to realise his sports drama telemovie titled Balapan.
Osman commented: “I have to say that I’m glad to be involved in this project. I was very impressed by my mentee’s dedication and passion for the project.”
In drama Pangkalan Batu 6 directed by Sabri Yunus, the audience has to figure out Li’s (Remy) motive for befriending kampung girl Mimi (Fathia). Sabri also stars in his mentee’s – Wan Mohd Rafiq (Universiti Utara Malaysia) – telemovie Wau Kasih, playing a father consumed by his hobby.
While Ang’s own work is a horror telemovie, he will help student Chen Yong Jiam (Universiti Malaysia Sarawak) with his Roti Canai Love Story. This is a friendship drama starring Rykarl Iskandar, Crystal Lee and Fahrin Ahmad. When it comes to preparing his mentee for the project, Ang advised him to think about the audience.
“I reminded him that television audience will change the channel when they feel bored. You have to capture their attention in the first 10 minutes. I understand that some students want to be artsy but a five-minute panoramic shot of the sky will not work on the small screen,” he said.
Ghaz concluded that the campaign is a much needed eye-opening experience for the students. “They have to do a lot of research, manage superstar talents and also cope with limitations like budget, weather and so on. In other words, welcome to reality.”