ProjekBrunei.com - Everyone has a Story
Editor's Note: I remember weekends back in the 90's. I grew up in Kuala Belait, and with most of the extended family based in the Muara district (or "Bandar" as we KB folks would say), many of my weekends were spent in Bandar. I hung out with my cousins, I ate at Thien Thien, and I would visit comic book shops - where a lot of my allowance was spent. As such, it would be absolutely accurate to say that I have a soft spot for comic book shops. On that note, it is with great pleasure that we feature Fanboys Infinite (FI) in this post. Check them out for all your comic, collectible and other pop culture related needs. Let's get to know Khairul Sabir (KA) and Haslan Haji Ali (HA) from FI.
When did your interest for comics begin?
KA: My earliest memories of comic books were my exposure to superheroes as a four year old. The first superhero I remember seeing was Adam West's Batman on TV, that show, along with BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES from the Nineties created a lasting impact. Characters like Spider-Man, X-Men and especially Superman were a childhood mainstay. Shortly after I was exposed to comic books, but I didn't fully commit until I was about fifteen years old. I used to save my lunch money every day just so to be able to buy some comics from Bluestone, a now-defunct comic book store that used to be located in the Gadong area.
HA: For myself, it started back in the mid-Seventies (in London where I was raised) also with the BATMAN classic TV show that was being shown in syndication on British TV, which led me to buying my first comic books, namely JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA VOL. 1 #100 (“The Unknown Soldier of Victory”) and DETECTIVE COMICS VOL. 1 #457 (“There Is No Hope In Crime Alley!”). And, thus, began my decades-long fascination with books in general and comic books in particular.
How has it developed throughout the years?
KA: In recent years, I have been more interested in the graphic novel medium, comprised of stories which tend to be more philosophically challenging and cover more mature ground. There are stories that are commentaries on real-world issues and character-driven arcs that are not just about punches being thrown, but also contain life lessons behind every page.
HA: I feel that the very first JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA comic book I ever bought had played a definitive role in my fascination with the Golden Age of comics as well as challenging myself to figure out new and interesting ways of telling a story, which helps, being an amateur writer and all. As such, although I do read the newer stuff, I prefer immersing myself with stories published during the Eighties as it was around this time that comic book stories really started to mature and was no longer just for kids in general. Case in point, the release of both BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS by Frank Miller, Klaus Janson and Lynn Varley and WATCHMEN by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons in the mid-Eighties led to the grim and gritty style of storytelling that has taken decades to undo and whose influence can be felt in recent live action films in general and DC live action films in particular, none more so apparent than in BATMAN v. SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE.
Share with us some of your favourites.
KA: My top three comic runs of all time and in no particular order are: SAGA OF THE SWAMP THING by Alan Moore et al; GREEN LANTERN by Geoff Johns et al; and WATCHMEN by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons.
HA: I will read anything written by Alan Moore, David Mack, Grant Morrison, J. M. DeMatteis, Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie, Kevin Maguire, Kurt Busiek, Mark Waid, Neil Gaiman, Roy Thomas, and Warren Ellis. I also have a very soft spot for Jack Kirby’s plethora of work with both Marvel Comics from the Sixties and DC Comics from the Seventies, and especially Arnold Drake and Bruno Premiani’s seminal work on DC Comic’s DOOM PATROL. Art-wise, I simply adore the works of Alex Ross, Dave Gibbons, Dave McKean, David Mack, Frank Quitely, Kevin Maguire, and Richard Case, just to name a few. My top three favourites are ASTRO CITY by Kurt Busiek et al, DOOM PATROL by Grant Morrison et al, and PLANETARY by Warren Ellis and John Cassaday.
Tell us about Fanboys Infinite.
KA: Fanboys Infinite was officially established on 8th September 2012, and was born out of the need for a comic book specialty store in the country. It initially started as a collectibles store, but pivoted towards a comic book store that also carried collectibles.
HA: I only joined the company a year later after its official establishment, and a week after I left my previous company where I had been under their employ for more than twenty years. It was a timely decision as we were able to focus more on achieving our corporate objectives, and led to our meteoric expansion from our old premises to a newer and larger one the following year after I had joined. That allowed us to better cater to our ever-growing customer base by increasing our inventory as well as hosting annual in-store events like “Free Comic Book Day (FCBD)” and “Re:Boot Camp”, both of which are annual pro-reading initiatives that we have organised over the years. Recently, we have been participating in a lot of pop-up events like the recent “Collectibles Conclave v. Books @ The Souq” event. Such events allow us to inculcate public awareness that we are here to fulfill their comic book, collectible and pop culture needs. Additionally, we have also tied up with local and foreign business affiliates in order to incite and fuel a resurgent collecting community to reach newer heights.
How has the response been for Fanboys Infinite?
FI: Response towards Fanboys Infinite is reflective of an ever-changing market mindset - as more people get into comics, we sell more of those. In comparison, the collectibles market is too vast for people to keep up with.
How is the present community in the local scene?
FI: Our core business are our members and loyal patrons. They are always the first movers in supporting all our events and whatnot, be it movie premieres or in-store functions. That is why we believe that building and sustaining a collecting community is paramount to the company’s continuous success.
Any special shoutouts?
FI: Fanboys Infinite would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one who have supported us from the beginning. We will continue to do everything that is humanly possible to ensure that your respective comic, collectible and pop culture needs are met in a more efficient, effective and economical manner.
Editor's Note: In this feature, we chat with Mark Jay from GTXperiment. He enjoys movies, working out, video games, and when he isn't studying, he can be found in the studio with the band. Follow their journey on Instagram and Facebook, and check them out on YouTube.
When and why did you start playing drums?
I started playing the drums about 12 years ago. Why? Don't really have the answer, I just really liked it when I picked it up as a hobby and as I got older it grew in me.
Who is your favourite band?
Can't choose one...I have too many haha. E.g. 30STM, The Used, Paramore, Justin Timberlake and Coldplay.
Who are your current musical influences?
Current musical influences now would be Imagine Dragons, Darren Ashley and Tori Kelly.
Who is GTXperiment?
GTXperiment is made out of four people. We are a KL based band who like to bend rules and infuse genres. There's Daryll, frontman of the band and main singer. Jude, guitars, back up vocals. Clinton on keyboard, and also back up vocals. Then there's me. I play the drums.
Tell us about some highlights from your musical journey so far.
We had quite a lot of gigs since last year. The most recent one was opening for Sam Willows on March 5th. We did a few charity gigs too. But the biggest gig we had so far was opening for Girls Generation in the F1 after party in Sepang 2015.
Is GTXperiment currently involved in any projects?
Yes we are, we are currently working with Coleman malaysia to make a 360 music video in Malaysia. Really excited for its release. And also we have our own project which is our first album, it is still under production, it's half way there, most probably done by end of July.
What is the music scene like in Kuala Lumpur compared to Brunei?
Well, there is a huge difference and to be fair Malaysia music scene started out much much earlier than Brunei and they had more exposure then and even now. Brunei music scene is really small and there isn't much exposure for the local musicians in Brunei which is sad because there are talented musicians in Brunei, but they don't really have a place to showcase their talent, sometimes they do but its limited.
Is there something you'd like to do more of in the future?
Defiantly touring. Always wanted to go for a tour as a band haha. And of course write more songs and enjoy what I do!
Editor's Note: Introducing Bash Harry, a beauty, fashion and lifestyle blogger from Brunei. She blogs at heybash.com, and her blogging and story-telling style inspires me. Bash, keep up the good work. Aim high. You will go far.
What do you do?
A lot of things but mostly I blog. Right now, I am focusing on the dreaded future like figuring out universities, wondering how everything will fall into place and where to eat later. I'm rather hungry.
Describe yourself in a few words.
Slightly manic and a little neurotic, but in a cute way. That sums me up rather well. Most days I teeter between acting obnoxiously loud and suspiciously quiet. Depending on how much I sleep and how much caffeine I ingested.
When and why did you start blogging?
Officially I started blogging in 10th April 2014, a day before my mother's birthday. It was called 'Bash Says Hey.' Though, I made no use of it until January 2015, when I started blogging regularly. I took a leap and bought a domain, and Hey Bash was made.
I decided blogging the same way other decisions are made, through boredom. I just didn't expect it would become a large part of life. I wanted to do something other than studying and knitting. The desire to do is innate in me. I hate boredom and when you're a blogger, you're never bored. Perhaps overwhelmed, but never bored.
Why "fashion, beauty and lifestyle"?
Because to be completely honest, I'm not good at much else. I don't even think I'm good at fashion or lifestyle. It's just expected when you're interested in putting war paint on your face every day. They correlate well to highlight who you are as a person, in appearance and personality. For the most part.
Self-taught or course-trained? Who inspires you?
I am a course-trained makeup artist, certified twice when I was sixteen, but self-taught in SFX. I love SFX more than I love beauty makeup, but to know SFX, you must know beauty first. Terrible irony.
The girl who inspired me the most to do SFX is Klaire DeLys, who I've been watching for almost seven years now. She inspires me to be more creative and focus on quality than quantity. As for starting normal makeup, it's the classic case of puberty and low self-esteem.
Share a few highlights from your journey to date.
Featured on Kristal FM for Bloggers vs DJs during Hari Raya 2015 was incredible. I was on a team with social media influencers, feeling as uncomfortable as a novice among professionals. We won! Not because of me, but we won! And as you know, winning is everything.
In 2014, I entered Bonnie Corban's International SFX Contest and was a Top 5 finalist! Even better, she recreated the look and its up on YouTube here!
Mini-highlights also include being featured on @hijabfashion, who has two million followers, and hitting 500 on bloglovin. They are pretty cool feats in just one proper year of blogging. Having recognition as a blogger is pretty darn cool too.
Three goals for 2016.
Go to Law School, read 52 books and convince my dad to get me a functioning laptop that doesn't crash every two weeks.
Three noteworthy bloggers.
The Rustic Trove - http://therustictrove.com/ - Fifi is my favourite Bruneian Blogger, though maybe that’s because I’ve met her and she’s absolute cool personified. She runs The Rustic Trove, which is a lifestyle blog where she showcases her stunning photography in the UK.
Love From Berlin - http://www.lovefromberlin.net/ - If you’re looking for incredible photography and helpful lifestyle tips, then LFB is perfect. I adore Rae’s stance on conscious living, teaching life in numerous ways, whether travelling or cooking.
Not Your Type - http://www.notyourtypeblog.com/ - I recently found Not Your Type, a Pakistani lifestyle blog by Areeba. I love how much of her personality shines through her blog. Funny and witty, this blog is a wonderful place to brighten your day.
Best piece of advice you've received.
"You were given a voice, so speak."
My parents regret teaching me this Aesop at four years old. Hence why they have a daughter that never shuts up, whether through speech or lexicons. I took this lesson as a reminder. That I am my own person with my own thoughts and feelings. I am in control of my actions. If I need to speak, I speak. If I need to change, I change. If I need to do, I do.
What do you see yourself doing in three years?
Alive, I hope. I always hope I'm alive by the next year. If not, at least I know I lived a good life. So if I'm still alive in three years, 21-year old Ne will probably be studying for Law finals somewhere while crying inside, chanting 'I can do this. I can't do this. I can do this.' Similar to Current Me.
Editor's Note: Creating content for Projek Brunei is a process. Since the launch of this website in 2010, we have featured over 80 different stories. Each story is different, but there are two connecting themes. The stories are about people who are not afraid to step outside of their comfort zone, and about people who take action. This story is about Amali Roslin, the co-founder of Beluneu Films.
What do you do?
I graduated from UBD with BA Professional Communications and Media. I co-founded Beluneu Films, but I’m currently focusing on running UBD TV, which is another venture that I founded. I’m not a movie buff, but I’m obsessed with making films. Hollywood is my obsession and so much so that I’m constantly analysing their products to see what it is that makes them aesthetically pleasing to me.
How and when did your interest for film begin?
At the heart of it, I was interested in the performing arts and the entertainment industry since Form 6 where did live performances in music. Speaking about entertainment, music and film goes hand-in-hand. Thus, I felt that there was a natural progression into film. But I oscillate between the two from time to time as I enjoy both equally.
My interest in filming began when I got my first laptop, which was in the year 2011. My first editing job was using a consumer software for a university assignment for my sister. During that period also, there was a DSLR revolution with the release of Canon 5D MKII where movies and tv series in Hollywood started experimenting using the camera in their productions. Likewise, in Brunei I have to owe Visual Dimensions (Adam Groves) for spearheading the movement here through his web-series. That, and Adam, I guess piqued my interest and inspired me to try filmmaking.
Tell us about the start of your journey.
As with a number of my peers, it started from doing video assignments for modules that I took in UBD. My major was in media and communications but I made my first video for a policy assignment which was at a neighbouring faculty. At that point my only ever experience were with digital cameras, using the auto settings.
I happened to watch the “Band of Brothers’ Making Of” on tv. That was where I learned the aspects of filmmaking particularly in editing. From that I started to understand elements such as tone, framing and visual effects, how they enhance the story and give a particular visual character to a series or film. From then on, I called myself a video editor.
Ever since I started to edit my first video, I was obsessed in achieving the “Film Look” where I would be googling and youtubing for tips and tricks in getting that Hollywood look. That, coupled with tv shows about filmmaking, gave me the knowledge that I needed at that time. As an editor first, with the fact that I didn’t own a DSLR, I needed to team up with someone that owns a DSLR and has the same outlook towards filmmaking. That was when I met my colleague and cinematographer Abu.
We have the same passion in filmmaking and similarly understood how a final piece of video is made. With a couple of my other friends we founded Beluneu. There we made our first short using a DSLR with relatively minimal filmmaking experience. There was a mix of creative energy from everyone which is always a good thing, and from there on, my journey as a filmmaker started.
What inspires you?
There are a lot of things and people that inspires me. When it comes to influential people, I’d say directors such as Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, James Cameron and Quentin Tarantino. Recently Christopher Nolan, JJ Abrams, Ben Stiller, David Fincher, Ryan Connolly, Wes Anderson, Stanley Kubrick, Guy Ritchie, Akira Kurosawa, Francois Truffaut and Baz Luhrman, all to name a few.
Some actors inspire me to want to make films because they’re just so good and almost always gives the best performances. They are Leonardo DiCaprio, Heath Ledger, Christian Bale, Hugh Jackman, Cate Blanchett, Amy Adams, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Johnny Depp, Jack Nicholson, Matt Damon, Al Pacino, Damien Lewis, Brad Pitt, Ryan Gosling, Kirsten Wiig, Bradley Cooper, Guy Pearce, Collin Farrell, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Kate Winslet, Isla Fischer, Charlize Theron, Marion Cotillard, Keira Knightley, Olivia Wild, Anne Hathaway, Eva Green, Jessica Chastain, Brittany Snow, Anna Kendrick, Emma Thompson, Tom Hiddleston, Emma Watson and Rose Byrne, from the top of my head that is.
When it comes to shows, it has to be the insightful ones that you find online like Film Riot and the other how-to shows. Of course as I’ve mentioned earlier, The 'making of' and 'behind the scenes' are always a good way to learn how to make a film. Then there are shows like Science of the Movies that discusses not just the techniques, but the science that goes behind filmmaking.
Then there’s the movies such as Inception, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Shutter Island, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Great Gatsby, The Dark Knight and many more others from the directors mentioned earlier. Miniseries such as Game of Thrones, Boardwalk Empire, Band of Brothers, Newsroom and the likes.
Tell us about Beluneu Films.
Beluneu Films is a company that I co-founded with a couple of my other close friends namely, Abu Wafiq and Shariza, where we invested together in the hopes of making it bigger one day. At the moment, we are on hiatus and will probably turn away from big projects as we’re concentrating on our own endeavours at the moment.
Basically we strive to produce the best quality, high-standard visual works. What we are working towards is to produce feature films that are Hollywood-worthy. Thus, the journey is still long and there are still plenty to learn.
As of now, I’m concentrating on my project of setting up UBD TV which is a media establishment housed in UBD.
What projects have you done so far?
Our personal projects include two short films The Same Song and Woebegone, based on the original ideas by Wafiq and Shariza, respectfully. We’ve also done a couple of wedding coverage and a live event coverage.
We’ve also collaborated with The Creative Core BN (TCCBN) which is a startup that focuses on highlighting individuals in the creative industry and to become the core for creativity for Brunei. We did a series called I.Am and did an event Dancersmeet with them. From the name, it was basically a season where the focus was on dancing and the stories of the featured dancers. Our part was the video production where we were able to gain a lot and learned a valuable amount of filmmaking production techniques. It was a great project and we hope to find some ways to work with them again in the future, definitely.
Our best work so far has to be Colours of UBD. A video made for a competition in UBD, which was taken to compete in the Best Institution Corporate Video at the QS Maple forum at Doha, Qatar. the video was awarded Bronze.
What are some challenges you face when it comes to filming?
It depends on the type of shoot and what the shooting is for. But the start is always hard. As is with all art forms, to come up with a full concept is always challenges. Our shorts, for instance, it was quite difficult to write a script and screenplay because none of us had the experience in it. Then to write it in a way that it can be visualise is very difficult, especially for me since my storytelling is still weak.
For the most of it, like the I.Am series for TCCBN, the challenge was mostly to fit with the look and tone that they were opting for. Because my style is heavy-contrasting look, very serious, whereas theirs are more light-hearted and fun. But for that type of shooting, the main challenge was not having enough manpower and not having the right type and amount of gears/equipments that we wanted. In a series like that, the first day of shooting is very difficult especially when you you’re not quite sure how things are going to go and can’t really predict how things will pan out. The first day is always tiring as you’re trying to figure out what are the best ways to shoot it and how to manage the time, because again, we weren’t sure how it will look like.
Speaking of time, for everyone who’s starting, it’s always a luxury. You don’t seem to have enough time to do what you want to do. And as they say, the final product is never finished. Even until today and years to come, I would still have that lingering thought that I could do more with it. Which is good because that will become a checklist in my head of do’s and don’ts.
For something like the Colours of UBD, the challenge was to bring a fresh derivative on a cliché concept. Because one, we had to adhere to the criteria, two, we weren’t sure if the audience would understand what we try to convey as there were no voiceovers and texts. Thirdly, the biggest challenge was the actors. We had to capture UBD in a sense conveying what Colours of UBD means to us, so we wanted to go with the concept that the people are what colours UBD. But since it was the semester break, we couldn’t get any more than two actors on call. Luckily, there were still a number of people going to the institution and so many thanks to them, we had faces and people in our video.
Basically, the challenges are the lack of experience with storytelling, semi-professional videography gears and equipments, and getting enough people to participate in our productions. However, all these challenges has their merits and that because of them, I now can visualise a production timeline and make it as efficient as I could.
Any upcoming projects?
For the other venture that I’m doing for UBD TV, we’re pretty much occupied until August 2016, at least.
Recently we’ve launched our music project and released our first episode on 6th February 2016. The projects ends with the last episode to be uploaded March 26th. Following that, we’ll be doing a mini-documentary promoting selected clubs and student bodies in UBD, so that future students as well as current students will be more informed about them. The project is part of our flagship online show on YouTube called Everything UBD. So for that, we’ll commence by the end of February and will end by July-August 2016.
Lastly, our first and will be our biggest event is the Film Festival that we’re planning for August, just to top off our year. It will be in commemoration with the 30th Anniversary of UBD, 1st Year anniversary for UBD TV and to top it all to celebrate the 2016 graduates. This project is a collaboration with TCCBN as well as supported by Candas. It’ll be featuring up and coming young local filmmakers, as well as selected UBD student films.
All our work can be viewed from the UBD TV YouTube channel and Facebook.
What advice would you give to a fellow aspiring film-maker?
I’m not really an advice-giver. But what I can is suggest and share my goal with others.
We are at the dawn of something great. Local talents are slowly getting recognise and the appreciation for filmmaking is increasing, thanks to a notable few who’s pushing the filmmaking industry up.
Let’s huddle and grow this industry together not just because it is our passion, but because we want to inspire others in taking the leap with us in making a career in this industry a reality.
Let’s not just create for the sake of creating, but let’s create for the sake of improving by making collaborations, upgrading our standards and assisting one another. Let’s not restrict ourselves to what we already know, but let’s push the creative boundaries to the limitless possibilities.
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