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Friday, August 27

Liga Remaja Kreatif: Jalur Lebar = Senyum Lebar (SMK Katibas)

The video has been mailed today & it will hopefully arrive safely in Cyberjaya tomorrow.
I have high expectations for the video. I expect at least a consolation prize.
Check it out at the bottom of this post, leave a comment & share it with your friends.
If you have some extra time, do read the story of the production.
This experience was quite an adventure for me & it really stretched my limits. I feel that I have improved personally & professionally after this ordeal.

Last Thursday, an application form was anonymously left on my table. It was an application form for a Liga Remaja Kreatif video competition organised by the Ministry of Information, Communication & Culture.
I was very interested but, after realising that the closing date was exactly 7 days later, I decided to put it into my thick folder of contest applications received way too late to do anything feasible (like on the day of the closing date or long after).

This is the unfortunate fate of many rural school children. They are rarely given the opportunity to shine because the paperwork is passed on at a snail-like pace. The contest started 2 months ago on 1 June. Shouldn't I have received the letter at least 1 month ago?
Also, with the letter, I was supposed to receive a DVD with tips & tools for my students to use in the production of the video. The DVD never arrived. Are the ppl in JPN/PPG/PPD taking their jobs seriously? Or are they doing it half-heartedly because they do not believe that an ulu school like mine is capable of something great? Well, let me burn with the flames of vindication & pray to God that this video my students have produced will cause the scales to fall from their eyes.

Anyway, back to Thursday. I tried not to think about the contest because I was busy marking exercises & the following week, I'll be receiving exam papers that will need to be marked before 1st of September (which is 4 days from today). However, the contest seemed to relentlessly hang onto my heart. Throughout the rest of the day, I kept thinking about it & dreaming up scenes. I didn't sleep well that night.

The next day, I went straight to the principal's office & asked him if he was willing to support me & allow me to distract some of the students from preparing for the exams. This included Form 5 & Form 3 students who would be attending a motivation camp that weekend. I had to be photographer for the camp too.
After reminding me again & again of the various challenges that I will face, he hesitantly consented & approved the use of school resources for the production.

I called the best 4 students from my English Language Society for a meeting that night. I put the application form in front of them & asked them if they were willing to risk their exam results to spend time on the competition & never use the competition as an excuse for poor results. The younger ones agreed instantaneously while the older ones considered it longer before nodding too. We discussed duties, the plot & the cast. Shooting would start the following morning. Actors & cast would gather at 7.30am. We'd be taking the school boat to a longhouse.

The longhouse folks gave me a pleasant surprise. They took out all their Gawai clothes & musical instruments. They inspired me with their wholehearted support. They really went the extra mile as you can see from the video. They even prepared lunch for us from the produce of their longhouse farm. I am very thankful for them. I wouldn't mind coming back here again for future productions.

I had to constantly monitor & give a lot of micro instructions from the begging until the end of the production because my students were very very very new to this whole movie production thing.
Many of them have never touched a computer or a camcorder before.
However, whatever they lacked technically, they made up for in enthusiasm & diligence. All of which you can see from the quality of the video.
Besides, they had a superweapon... yours truly.

After the longhouse, we dropped off the longhouse actors at school & picked up the Malay family scene actors on our way to Song town.
We were headed for the Malay village in Song to record the Malay family scene.
Here, I learned not to trust the promises of a Form 1 boy. He spoke highly of his friend's house & even talked about how he had obtained the family's permission. I wanted to source for a house of my own but he insisted on using his friend's beautiful wooden house on stilts.

Upon arriving in Song, he gave me a shock when he said that we had to walk 20 minutes to the house. This was not a torture I was prepared to impose on the crew & the actors so I went to a local friend's shop in hopes of borrowing his Hilux.
He was not in but his wife was. She casually popped the keys in my hand & told me to return it any time before leaving in her sporty Avanza & me completely stunned. Where can I find a better friend than this?
To great protest, I forced the kids to climb on the back as punishment while I enjoyed the aircon with the other teachers & the production director.

I was in for another shock when I arrived at that boy's friend's house.
It was a sorry sight. Rubbish was everywhere, the garden was unkept & the whole house looked like a total opposite of the rosy picture he painted earlier that day & the nights before.
The occupants were even more surprised when I approached them & revealed my intentions. Their children were running around the place & they looked really frustrated.
I could understand because the house was really in no shape to be in any video except one of those pleading for help kinds. Then, we found out that the friend had moved & his cousins were the current occupants.
Fortunately, I was able to find a better house through a teacher friend.

Since the theme of the competition was 1Malaysia, I had to find some Indians to appear in the video. God knows there are very few Indians in Sarawak. Even less so in such a secluded place like Song.
After shooting the Malay family scene, I sought out the only Indian family in the whole of Song. I was prepared to do a lot of convincing, bargaining & begging but was pleasantly surprised to find the mother agreeing instantaneously to have her family appear in the video.
What a blessed day we had!

Finally, the best highlight was when shooting the last scene on the final day of production... Today.
Initially, a team of 5 students were supposed to go to Sibu to shoot the city scene but, in the end, it was only the cameraman & I.
Our challenge: Find a group of Sibu-ians gullible enough to be coaxed into appearing in our video. This was no small task, mind you. City folks are very self-conscious & pessimistic. Even more so in FooChow Sibu. I know because I am FooChow.
We left school before the sun came out & arrived in Sibu at 9.30am to begin scouring the city & getting rejected or ridiculed for such an unconventional unheard of request.

But, God is good. He provided not one but a whole group of about 20 college students!
There was a class of architecture students from a local college doing a survey of the city that same morning. I got rejected by the first group I met but the second group I met hooked me up with several others & we made an awesome city scene.

I cannot help it. I'm sorry if I will offend you but I really have to say that, throughout the production of the movie, I saw God's hands moving & He provided miraculous resources, individuals & good weather. Thank you, Lord.
I would also like to thank the students for their hardwork & belief in the production as well as the teachers, staff & the principal who supported the production from beginning until end.

Go ahead & enjoy the video. It's worth it.

9 comments:

  1. Great work! It does not matter even if you don't win (...after all, judging is always very subjective), but with your very positive outlook towards your commitments and everything, you're a winner in your own right. Keep it up...

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  2. P.S.
    Just a thought... Since it's a Broadband thingy, why didn't they allow people to submit entries online? I guess the organisers just came out with the half-baked idea but are probably not very technically-inclined themselves. Not very convenient for people in the rural area like you... Even the letter of invitation was by post, via snail mail... I wonder what has become of engkabang.com..... Still alive or like everything else, just a flash in the pan?

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  3. Just started my day by watching the video. It's very well-edited. Maybe it's not as awesome as those conventional Youtube videos.
    I love it.

    How did you manage to get the costumes, anyway?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Haven't seen the video yet. But the effort that you take just to show that your kids can do it just moves me. God bless you & I pray that He will give you everything that you need to accomplish His will in your life. Well done!!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hello Koko. :)

    I noticed the word 'mempersempahkan' in the beginning of the video.

    Its a nice video btw. It has been a long time since I went back to my grandparents longhouse.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Arthur: If they allowed online submissions, they'd have to prepare the infrastructure for it. They will have to spend unnecessary money on temporarily upgrading their systems to accommodate the hundreds of schools uploading 300-400MB videos simultaneously.
    Postal submissions are best but they have to consider the hardships of schools far away from Cyberjaya & make sure that closing dates are not on Mondays because post offices are not open during weekends. Meaning we (who are far away) have to post on Friday leaving us with a 2 day disadvantage.

    Talking about engkabang, I've actually stopped going there. I dont see much benefit since my internet is scarce anyway.
    If I started a thread (out of the hundreds) there asking a question, I'd have to wait a few days for a good answer (if I even get one). I prefer to network in real-life & get to know authentic experienced teachers in the flesh over a good (free) meal. hahaha~~
    Still it'll be useful to teachers with access to only Internet & nothing else.

    Vio: The students own their own traditional clothings. Many of them are even inherited for generations & once used in wars.
    Some of these cannot be worn by people other than the owner because there is a guardian spirit following the clothes.
    Cool, eh?

    Jezzy: His will is for me to be here to make a difference. I see it clearly & I am living it every single day!
    I see Him doing miracles through my hands every year!
    =)

    Olivia: You're half Dayak? You should go back once in a while. I've grown very fond of Tuak & BBQ wild boar.

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  7. Wild boar? Ooooo....next time you come down to Sibu, you must bring me some. The best would be the old ones with layers of fat and thick black hair - and hey!!! I'm not talking about me! LOL!!!

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  8. this remind me of "project". cool one!! can change the theme a bit and make my year 6 students run such a thing after their UPSR...

    ReplyDelete

We are all entitled to our opinions. That's why I have allowed anonymous comments so that people may correct me or question me safely.
Still, once in a while, a little pinch of encouragement or a few kind words wouldn't hurt.

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