“Production, generally, is challenging in Malaysia,” said Bea Tanaka.
The first Sharpened Word of the year was held on Saturday, January 20 at the Old Andersonian’s Club. The guest speakers were husband-and-wife Yasu and Bea Tanaka and Hassan Muthalib.
Born in Tokyo, Japan, Yasu Tanaka is a scriptwriter and analyst. He studied filmmaking in Los Angeles and is now teaching scriptwriting in Malaysia and Japan. He has his own production company, 42nd Pictures Sdn Bhd, where he writes, directs and edits his own projects. His first feature film, Nota was released in 2015.
Yasu shared and emphasised a lot on filmmaking and scriptwriting. He explained the three-act structure, which is usually used to create a story. The three-act is divided into setup, confrontation and resolution. Scientists have also proven that human beings restore their memory in three-act structures.
Being a Perakian herself, Bea Tanaka is the managing director of 42nd Pictures. She has been teaching for 18 years before venturing into the production journey with her husband. As she is well versed in Malay, she co-writes dialogues in Malay and helps Yasu out with the translations.
“It’s very satisfying to see or hear people talking about what you wrote on the big screen. Teaching gives me a different kind of satisfaction. As a teacher, I’ve always been interested in writing. So I learned scriptwriting with Yasu and spent over a year in Los Angeles. No one can deny that Hollywood is the centre of films,” Bea shared.
Bea mentions that the potential of filmmaking in Malaysia is incredible as we are rich with locations, culture and settings to create stories. Sadly, we do not structure it well. Speaking of Ipoh itself, the million-year-old caves and limestone hills are enough to deliver a story. It is how you use a location to tell a story that matters.
“Films where you don’t have to be a Malaysian to understand; I think that’s how our local films should go. There are too many things in a Malaysian movie that require you to be local to understand. I found this out through Yasu. When we watch a local film together, I would laugh at certain parts while Yasu has no trace of reaction. Then I figured, he didn’t understand it because he’s not local,” she continued.
After realising this, Bea began watching a film through what she calls the ‘foreigner’s eyes’ and found a whole new perspective. She also figured that the most important thing the industry needs is ample time for preparation.
Currently, they are waiting to begin on their next feature film, Terbalik. Ivanhoe Pictures, a well-known Hollywood production company is going to remake the film because they believe that the story can be told through any language yet still depict the same meaning.
Hassan Muthalib, who is a regular guest on Sharpened Word has educated the public a lot on the basics of filmmaking and movie appreciation. From the basic principles of movie making to movie reviews and now screenplay or scriptwriting. Hassan has been both Yasu and Bea’s inspiration for as long as they remember.
“In time, I’m sure the local film industry will flourish,” Hassan said.