Introducing 52 Film Club - an exciting new initiative by MMU students, for MMU students, in Iskandar Puteri. The club founders' mission is to get their peers to challenge and grow their cinematic minds. How? By following one simple formula: get together to watch 1 new film a week, 52 weeks a year.
Despite being established only a couple of months ago, the 52 Film Club has hosted the Short Shorts Film Festival and Asia 2016, which featured 6 international award-winning short films.
JB:IFC sat down with the club’s founders - Eddy Tan, Daniel Sampa, and Ross Abbasov - to talk all things film.
Hey guys! Tell us about yourselves, and about your journey to pursuing a career in film.
Daniel: I’m from Zambia, and I’m turning 23 this year. I hope to be a film director - I’ve liked movies since I was young. My parents were telling me to be a lawyer but I rebelled. It took a while before I eventually succeeded in convincing them to let me study film. My mother said to me: If you really want to do this, let's test it out! So, she found me an internship in film - if I managed to do it well and proved my passion for the industry, my parents would take me to any film school I wanted. And I guess I succeeded! I really am truly grateful for my parents' hard work to ensure that I achieved my dream of making movies. I also thank God for the passion he placed in me.
Eddy: I am 21 years old, and am originally from KL. I came down to Johor to study film because I always knew I wanted to do something more artsy. Like Daniel, there was some resistance from my family at first, but once my parents realised that - even after acing all my science subjects - I still wanted to do film, that’s when the support came. They wanted me to be sure that this was what I wanted to do.
Ross: I’m 23, and I was born in Uzbekistan. When I was 19, I went to study business in London, but I realised that it wasn't my thing. Finally, after a long period of figuring out what I wanted to do, I thought: why not try working in film? And I went for it! You know when you’re a kid, your teachers and parents put you in a box: ‘Science’, ‘Technology’, or ‘Law’. But when you get older - when you have the freedom - you can break out of that box. That’s what I did when choosing to pursue film.
Dream director you'd love to work with?
D: Steven Spielberg.
E: Ok here’s the thing - when you have a dream director that you look up to, you probably don’t want to work with them at all.
R: Because it’s a dream, right?
E: No. Just because, if the director is so good you look up to him, he’s probably no fun to work with. Anyway, I’m more about studying film, I lean more towards film criticism and film academics. If there were a director that I’d want to work with though, I would give it a shot with Sidney Lumet. I want to learn more about his directing process.
R: For me, it would be the late Andrei Tarkovsky, the Russian Soviet director. He directed Stalker and Nostalghia. My modern-day dream director would perhaps be Christopher Nolan.
Who is your biggest source of inspiration?
R: My father has always been my inspiration. His life was a struggle, and the way he tackled it, it was really inspiring.
D: For me, my biggest inspiration would be Abraham Lincoln, and his story of strength over adversity. He was such a great leader. Lincoln has inspired me to always push forward, to never doubt the decisions you make, and to not live with regret. If things go bad, it’s not the end. You can still continue.
E: My inspiration has always been teachers. In every stage of life, there has been at least one teacher that has steered me in the right direction. An Iranian schoolteacher, Ms. Mary, is actually the one who steered me in the direction of film. She showed me how to think about film in a deeper, more analytical sense - before that, to me, films were just films. Right now, of course, my inspiration is MMU’s Dr. Alex Fischer. He is one of the leading scholars in Film Festival Studies, and to have him as a lecturer is incredible.
The Film Club
So, how did 52 Film Club begin?
E: It all started when I attended the 2nd Johor Bahru Film Festival in November 2016. Aside from the 2 MMU volunteers and myself, there was not one other MMU student attending. In 4 days, I had watched 14 films from all over the world. And I asked myself, why aren’t MMU students interested, why are they not there? It was then that I just knew I had to bring the films to them. And so the club was born. If challenging your mind by watching a new film every week is what it takes, then why not. Everyone would be more open-minded and the film industry would grow ten times faster.
D: After every screening, we sit down and discuss the film - our analysis, how we interpreted the story. When Ross and Eddy told me they wanted to start 52 Film Club, I wanted in. It was a chance for me to see how people in other places make films, and how they tell their stories. At the moment, I don’t have access to big blockbuster budgets - but the films we have screened have shown me I don’t need a lot of money, I just need a camera and I can still tell a compelling story.
E: It’s all about story. You don’t need much budget at all to be successful - take 12 Angry Men, take Saw.
What makes a great film club?
E: 3 things: Great films, a committee that doesn’t quit, and a great audience. It’s a domino effect - one thing comes after the other.
So, what does the future have in store for you guys?
E: I hope to be furthering myself in film academics, as well as undertaking work experience in order to obtain a master's degree.
R: I think I have decided, but I’m still open to opportunities. For now, I want to write scripts, I want to be a storyteller.
D: For me, I’d like to go back home - or perhaps go work in South Africa, since the film industry there is really growing. I want to tell African stories, because due to the media and commercial movies right now, the image of Africa portrayed is that of an open field, with people living next door to lions...But there’s so much more to us! I want to tell our stories, very much so. I want to be a director, a scriptwriter - I have so many ideas, so many stories I want to share.
We, for one, can't wait to see the stories these 3 inspiring, budding filmmakers have to tell.
Keep up-to-date on 52 Film Club’s upcoming public events and screenings via their Facebook page.
Alternatively, if you have a film or two you’d like to screen at a 52 Film Club event, do get in touch with the team via email.
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