This blog highlights some of the interesting interviews I have done as a journalist with the Sun newspaper. I really believe what makes these interview interesting is their honest answers to the questions I throw at them. Hope you enjoy reading these interviews as much as I had fun writing them. If the readers of the blog wants to write to me, they can do at this email(email@example.com)
Monday, November 2, 2015
Film director Chiu Keng Guan became a famous face when his movie The Journey raked in more than RM17 million at the box
office last year. Today
theSun carries an interview I have done with him where he talks about his latest film OlaBola. Here is the full story
Headline:Eye On The Goal
By Bissme S
Director Chiu Keng Guan’s The Journey
created history last year when it became the highest grossing Malaysian film at
the box office with some RM17 million. (But its record has since been broken by
Polis Evo this year.)
That film depicts the touching
relationship between a conservative Chinese man and his Caucasian son-in-law.
But for his latest film, OlaBola, which he has just completed shooting, Chiu
has gone a different direction by lensing a story about football. And he is
fully aware of the pressure to produce another hit with his take on this sport.
“Honestly speaking, I feel some
pressure trying to live up to this expectation,” says the 43-year-old
filmmaker, but he managed to calm his nerves by focusing on what drove him to
be a filmmaker in the first place.
“I became a filmmaker because I
wanted to tell stories. So, I began to forget about everything else and just
focus on the story I want to tell.”
Chiu adds with a touch of humour that
he left the money factor to his
producers (Astro Shaw), saying: “My
job as a director is to put my energy on the creative side of the film.”
Set in the 1970s, the film is about a
Malaysian football team which overcomes the hardships and hurdles to qualify
for the Olympics.
The story is loosely based on real
events. Malaysia national football team did qualify for the Olympics – the first time, by
beating Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and the Philippines, for a spot in the 1972
Munich Games, where it defeated the
United States but lost to West Germany and Morocco.
The team again qualified for the
Olympics in Moscow in 1980, but never got to compete as Malaysia joined 64
other countries which boycotted the Games because of the Soviet invasion of
To do research for the movie, Chia
and his team interviewed several key figures from that national football team
such as the legendary ‘Towkay’ Soh Chin
Aun and Santokh Singh.
But OlaBola is not a depiction of
that national team and the characters are fiction, says Chiu, adding that this
allowed him more creative freedom to be dramatic in his storytelling because he
did not have to stick to the facts.
OlaBola stars Bront Palarae, Muhd
Lugman Hafidz, Saran Kumar Manokaran, Eric Teng Shin Wang and Chee Jun Cherng. In choosing his cast, the director
has also taken the risk of placing a priority on the cast’s ability to
play football rather than having any acting experience. Most of the cast members are
newcomers and they were given three months of intensive acting classes before
facing the camera.
It was easier for me to teach them
how to act than to play football,” Chiu explains, adding that he also wanted
the matches in the film to look authentic.
Shooting for the film started in
April for about two months. His crew comprised not only locals but also an
expert team from Argentina that has worked in Hollywood to help in the visual
effects, an Australian specialist for aerial cinematography as well as an
award-winning sound effects team from Taiwan.
“I always make sure our local talents
constantly follow these foreigners while shooting,” says Chiu.
“Indirectly, they will learn from
these experts and that will help them
sharpened their skills. We must never
The film not only has some adrenaline
charged football action at the iconic Stadium Merdeka but also a
scenic train journey between Beaufort and Tenom in Sabah as well as scenes of
the exciting night life at fun-fairs in the 70s.
When asked why he wanted to make a
film about football, Chiu explains: “I played football in my school and college
He also reveals that he had wanted to
be a national football player but the dream
did not materialise. So he decided the next best thing is to make a football
movie. Chiu has always been proud of the
national team back in the 70s and loved watching
them in action. “It is not easy to qualify for the Olympic Games but they did.”
As for his favourite Malaysian
footballer, he says: “I was a striker in my
school and college days. Naturally,
my choice is Mokhtar Dahari. He was a striker too, and was a great one. He even
beat Arsenal 2-0.”
He hopes his film will reintroduce
these football heroes to the younger
“Some of these youngsters do not even
know who they are and I hope this film will change that.”