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Featured Filmmaker

Featured Filmmaker: Arvind Raj

Name: Arvind Raj
Age: 36
Location: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

1. Tell us who you are as a filmmaker.

I am more of an activist filmmaker than a commercial filmmaker – I feel the subject, the issues deep inside the heart before making an effort to create a film or video.

2. Why did you decide to work with the moving image?

Video is the best tool for showing evidence of what really happened in any situation. No one can deny or manipulate the issue or the incident once it is recorded in a genuine way.

3. What radicalised you as a filmmaker? Did it happen in the moment, or was it a process?

I became a filmmaker not by choice but by chance – I participated in many street demonstrations and protests to fight against injustices and to give a voice to the voiceless, but without a medium such as video I couldn’t explain a lot of the incidents because I am not a good writer.

I created a blog and updated it frequently from the scene where marginalised people were being bullied. I took photos and videos from my mobile phone to show this. Later, I attended the Citizen Journalism training by the International Centre for Journalists (ICFJ) and progressed from there.

4. As a videomaker, what are the challenges of working in Malaysia? What are the restictive laws?

A general challenge is that journalists and videomakers do not have immunity or security in this country. If the authorities feel that it is not safe for us to film something, they will go all out to stop you from filming. Arresting us for no reason is a way for them to stop us, especially in the street demonstrations where the police brutality can be seen in an open space.

5. What are the main issues you address in your video work?

The issues that I have highlighted in my videos all relate to human rights: poor and marginalised society, the transgender plights, demolishing the poor heritage villages, estate-worker issues, the promises made by some politicians and the disappointment they engender.

6. Tell us about your favourite piece of video you have made, in regards to social justice or the environment.

GATCOI did a video called GATCO – 33 Years of Dreams Shattered, on the plight of estate workers in Negeri Sembilan (which is a 2 hour drive from Kuala Lumpur). The victims are poor Indian estate workers who have been working on a piece of land for more than 36 years, believing that they will own the land one day. However, to their dismay, the land was recently bought by a private company through an auction. State and federal governments failed to help them despite making past promises of help, during elections, in order to win their votes.

7. How do you think online distribution is changing the field of independent video making? How do you use online tools in your work?

Let’s compare it with several years ago when the internet was not widespread in Malaysia. People believed what they saw in the mainstream media – for them that was news and that was the most trustworthy medium – but now it has changed.

People realise that mainstream media is merely a tool of the political party that governs the nation. People tend to compare the news in the mainstream media with online media, which is also known as alternative media. They know that not everything that is shown in the mainstream media is accurate. We have many tools, sites and online platforms to share, spread and distribute the videos that we make.

EngageMedia, YouTube, Free Malaysia Today, Papuan Voices and Komas are some of the platforms available to highlight our issues as an independent filmmaker. If a video is made in any foreign languages or dialects, tools such as Universal Subtitles help to spread the message. Anyone in the network can contribute the subtitles, which helps further distribution of the issues.

8. Tell us more about the role of video in this coming elections, and how film/videomakers can contribute to this democratic process?

Bersih 3.0As a filmmaker for Free Malaysia Today, I have the advantage of publishing videos of interviews, speeches and peoples’ opinions from both parties; the ruling government party and the opposition party, together with the independent candidate. These kinds of videos cannot be seen in any mainstream media.

We are giving a clear picture of the political scenario in Malaysia for people to evaluate the political parties’ genuineness, sincerity, contribution and manipulations. We are fair in reporting both angles, although sometimes we lean more towards the opposition activities to balance their limitations in mainstream media coverage.

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If you know of any interesting filmmakers around Asia Pacific that you’d like to see featured on EngageMedia.org, write to us today!

Categories
Featured Filmmaker

Featured Filmmaker: Adithio Noviello

Name: Adithio Noviello
Website: www.adithio.com
Twitter: @adithio33
Age: 26
Location: Pecatu, Bali, Indonesia

Why did you decide to work with the moving image?

I love telling stories, especially those that needed to be told. People can tell their tales through different mediums.

I studied Performance Design & Practice at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London. A very conceptual-based course, where we explore different ways to stimulate the audience through different practices. I chose to use more video work to tell my stories so my pieces would be projected directly to the eyes of the audience, not just through stage, but also digitally.

What are the main issues you address in your video work?

I address different issues, but what I love addressing most is personal struggle in human beings and stories of overcoming them, to hopefully show my audience to not take for granted for what they have in their lives.

What do you think about making good works versus making money?

We live to work and we need to work to live. In a perfect world we would be making money by doing the things we love. But, unfortunately, we live in a world that is far from that.

The idea of money overpowers everything, but people would argue that love is the closest thing to challenge that idea.

To me, the path of the filmmaker is about hunger and sacrifice. We have to be brave to carry on making these real sacrifices, just so we can get our work done. If you don’t have the passion and the love for this, get a real a job.

What are you doing now in Indonesia?

Every two to three years, I visit my family in Indonesia. My last visit prompted me to make the decision to move out here for a year. I chose Bali, not just for obvious reasons but because of the rich culture they have kept despite the tourism, and also to help my aunt with her catering while I’m on my days off from filming.

I have completed a music video in Jakarta and have set up different photo shoots. I also plan to travel to different parts of the country to do some “backpack filmmaking” and to visit different spots. Hopefully, haunted ones, too, because I’m cool like that.

Tell us about your Bali Animal Welfare Association (BAWA) work.

Every time I visit Bali, I have an amazing time and, living here for the past two months, people have been welcoming. I have made a few good friends and also enjoy what the island has to offer.
Nothing is ever perfect.

It breaks my heart, when I see, in every corner, these poor neglected street dogs. As you may know by now, I’m a huge dog lover and, coming from London where mistreating animals are punishable by hefty fines and imprisonment, I’m always shocked and appalled by the situation.

Bali Animal Welfare Association is a non-profit organisation dedicated to improving the lives of animals on the island. BAWA’s mission is to relieve suffering and overpopulation by providing medical care, street feeding and adoption.

After learning a lot about BAWA, I decided to offer my services by making short documentaries about the organisation and their programs. To help spread the good name of BAWA and their hard work and also to educate the audience.

Please donate what you can to this wonderful organisation at www.bawabali.com.

How many videos have you produced?

I have produced a few documentaries, and a string of music videos. I’m looking to add more documentaries to my portfolio during this year in Indonesia.

How do you use online tools in your work?

People would agree that marketing is where the art is. You should always take advantage of what is in front of your computer screen, because most people are now too lazy to go out and look for stimulation.

In the past 10 years, social networks are where you get your customers and your target audience. I do what I think a lot of filmmakers would do: when I finish a video, I upload it to YouTube or Vimeo and completely spam Facebook and Twitter. You’d be surprised by how a couple of hours of pestering your friends would do wonders for your view counts.

Tell us more about Carrying On: Adhe’s Story. What does it feel like working on a personal story close to home?

In March 2010, my brother Adhe was attacked by an opposing school rugby team during a match in Singapore. During this attack, Adhe tore his carotid artery, which then caused a blood clot, in turn causing him to have a stroke. Adhe was only 17 years old. This attack was then covered up as an accident but, in my heart of hearts, I knew this was deliberate. That day changed our lives forever.

Carrying On: Adhe’s Story was set on his 18th birthday, a year and six months after the incident. To see him competing in a charity bicycle race, after seeing him in a coma in an ICU, was truly the proudest moment. Sheer dedication, hard work and a dash of divine intervention were something I wanted to show. Adhe and his story have been, and always will be, a true inspiration for me.

What’s the difference between shooting in Indonesia and the UK?

For one, the costs! I directed a music video for a metal band in March in Indonesia, where we rented one HMI, three red heads, one diva lite, a track dolly, smoke machine and the location for around £100. In the UK … I won’t even bother telling you, because that’s how expensive it is.

Also, after being born and raised in London, I needed a change of lifestyle and I needed inspiration.

London is an amazing city, but you just need to step out of your comfort zone to find something even more amazing. Ever since I’ve been in Indonesia, the stories I hear about the people, the culture, the taboos, the tradition and the food has been nothing but an eye-opener – something I was looking for, when I was in London. It has been a culture shock, I’m just glad I got it all on video.

What impact do you think you have made with your videos?

I would like to think I have made a positive impact. Not just on my critics and my audience, but also more on the people I film in my documentaries. I hear their stories, I feel their struggle and it’s my job to help them tell their tales, and hopefully make a difference to their world.

I realised that money is not the only thing in the world that’s important to me, although it would be nice to get paid for telling stories.

Links

 

If you know of any interesting filmmakers around Asia Pacific that you’d like to see featured on EngageMedia.org, write to us today!