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Saturday, November 03, 2007

KURUS Production Diary - What Is This Film About?

Had the first major production meeting for my upcoming project, KURUS at Starbucks in The Curve yesterday.

Much had occurred with the production while I was away in Taiwan for a week. Lim Kok Wing University had offered their assistance by providing us some crew members, most invaluable of all, a line producer, Joanne Soong, to help out with the location hunting and the like (definitely makes my job much easier now!). We have also secured the services of Aaron Chung (click his name to read Hassan Muthalib's glowing article about him at Criticine.com) for cinematographer. And Kannan (director of March's telemovie I served as assistant director for) had jumped onboard too, maybe as the sound guy, I think.

(Ming Jin, Joanna, Aaron, Kannan and I were the ones present at the meeting)

Casted the lead role, acquired most of the locations, Mentor Ming Jing had completed the script as well.

KURUS is supposedly a telemovie made for NTV7, its original premise was like Karate Kid meets Million Dollar Baby meets Rocky meets whatever teenage coming-of-age tale you've seen. An often bullied skinny boy decided to learn boxing from a cleaner lady just so he could dish out some punishment upon his tormentors. Cleaner lady was a disgraced former female boxing champion!

It's a great throwback to Hollywood B-movie masterpieces of the 80s!

Karate Kid

Alas we are also aiming for foreign film festivals, thus a formulaic film that follows every single rule from the rulebook of Hollywood underdog films may not be the best sort of film to make. Thus Ming Jin, sweating blood and tears, had to give the film a major revamp, with assistance from yours truly and another guy called Steve.

The film, KURUS, was reworked from scratch, and had evolved into something entirely different.

Now more an ensemble coming-of-age dramedy with numerous subplots weaved together, the film is more like the works of P.T. Anderson (Magnolia and Boogie Nights), with the quirkiness of Napoleon Dynamite or Thumbsucker. (The mentioned films aren't Ming Jin's influences or inspiration, just what I was reminded of while reading his script last night.)

Here's a summary of the film, obviously I'll be avoiding spoilers:

15-year-old Ali loves boxing and idolizes his namesake Mohammad Ali. He lives with his ne'er do well father, Budi, who works as a security guard. Budi is a nice guy, but a horrible father, subjecting his son to crappy food for meals.

Their neighbour is Leana, a spinster who lives with her sister's family. A busybody who just constantly sticks her nose into Ali and Budi's business (to the duo's consternation). She often does laundry for the neighbourhood, and offers food to Ali, most probably because she might like Budi and finally wants to get married!

Ali's best buddy is Hassan, another social outcast like him, but an inventor who makes cool gadgets with all kinds of random stuff ala McGyver.

School has just started, Ali is getting lots of crap from classmate, the Eli the Bully, while Hassan's ire is directed towards a new transfer student Nora. Hassan's disdain for Nora has to do with the girl's lack of 'Malaysian-ness' (she came back from overseas), she's a Malaysian girl tainted by the corrupting touches of Western culture!

They also have a new class teacher: The beautiful Miss Carol who teaches English, whom Ali immediately falls head over heels for due to her sheer hotness. But Miss Carol has a boyfriend!

The film happens in a span of two weeks, mostly about Ali's relationships with the colourful characters around him and their own stories. Somewhere along the way, some stories will converge, some won't, some have answers, some don't, just like life.

And that's it. The shoot will begin on the 15th to the 25th of November (tentatively, I'm still setting the schedule for this), and then we'll have to finish post-production as soon as possible.

I'll tell you all about the cast members once we've confirmed it.

KURUS trailer 1
KURUS trailer 2
Photos from the KURUS press conference on the 28th of Jan.
KURUS Production Diary - 'Carmen Soo Day 1'
KURUS Production Diary - 'Carmen Soo Day 2'
KURUS Production Diary - More production photos