Let's Collaborate On This International Education Project (Closing: Nov 30, 2016):

The Youth Video Exchange Project Between The United States & Malaysia

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.

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