[UPDATED with BFM's podcast of its interview with The S-ploited on 3 July 2010]
Somewhere, sometime ago in a galaxy far, far away, LoyarBurok and The S-ploited sealed the deal which has now, mind-blowingly, taken the legal fraternity by storm. Rocking the rakyat‘s thoughts and comfort zones with what some might deem as controversial forms of legal activism (while at the same time pretending to be real lawyers), The S-ploited douses the more serious socio-political issues (being dealt with by LoyarBurokkers) with their artsy flair for music and film.
In their 2009 Freedom Film Fest (FFF) entry, ‘No Silver Lining: The Perak Crisis’, The S-ploited dealt with the issue of three frogs who jumped from PR to BN, and who caused a State Government to fall into the hands of a coalition which only a minority wanted at the last 2008 elections. Instantly recognisable, the iconic froghead (or known as “Froggie”) symbolises the quite dangerous polarisation of our nation’s politics. More frogs have come after the Perak3, and more are anticipated.
To cope with the incessant and increasing demand for a feature on The S-ploited – yes, LoyarBurok indeed listens and hears you - we conducted the LoyarBurok Interview; the ONLY interview you will ever need. The interview was conducted by e-mail based on questions submitted to us by interested readers; so here it is.
Just as the winners of 2010 FFF have been chosen, the feisty duo reminds us of what came before and what ought to come next.
How did it feel when your film was shown?
Seira: Excited and a bit nervous. We were standing at the back and in the dark I saw some of our friends and they had serious looks on their faces and for a split second my mind went, “Oh, no..”. But truth be told, we did not seen the final product until that moment when the film was shown at the premiere. Sherrie and I were standing behind there commenting on our own film! The premiere was awesome! More than 300 people were in attendance including friends, families and haters.
Sherrie: It was nerve-wrecking and exciting as well! We’ve worked so hard on the film. We were anxious to see how the crowd would respond to the film. It was massive – fully packed dual hall that night and we were glad that the reviews have been encouraging thus far.
Do you think all your hard work was worth it?
Seira: Hell yeah! When you have people that you don’t know coming up to you and saying, “Thank you for making this film”, or “Great work on the film!”, it sure was worth it. You realise that you have been so lucky to be given this opportunity to make a film, let alone to do something controversial – well, some say-lah – like the Perak crisis.
Sherrie: Definitely! I kind of miss those shooting escapades that we had. We tried to make the film easy for the masses to understand especially the younger generation. We have been told that the film has a good flow now!
What was the best thing about doing the film?
Seira: EVERYTHING. I can’t pick and choose. The whole experience was a learning process even when it sucked! But the first day of shoot was the best! When the camera started rolling for the first time, when I put on Froggie to do the interview for the first time – that’s when I realised that we were making a film!
Sherrie: From drafting the proposal to actually having a copy of the DVD and watching it at the premiere! Going to the Orang Asli settlement, shooting the live frogs as they were jumping, interviewing the people at the market, continuously amending the treatment, going through the editing process and trying to squeeze the budget and timeline to complete the film within our parameters. Like what Seira said, EVERYTHING!
Would you do another, and if so, on what subject?
Seira: I’ll do it again. Maybe on race relations. It’s such a “sensitive” – no, we can’t use that word – it’s such a “potentially explosive” topic for our country. We promote ourselves as a country where three main ethnic groups live with each other, and yet sometimes I can’t help but sense a deep undercurrent that we all actually hate each other and it’s because of our ethnicities. Or maybe something on the environment. Or on mosques.
Sherrie: I would if I am given the opportunity again. Maybe on interfaith marriages. Or the history of the Malays in this country. Who is a Malay or whether this fact is significant as we have been through many cycles of mixed marriages especially from the Indonesian lineage. Perhaps looking at gender issues in religion too.
All the three films were on difficult subjects, how did it feel “competing” against fellow activists who were also making films for the same purpose you were?
Seira: What was the common purpose again? As far as I know, and this is also based on conversations I had on, and interviews I read about, the other two entries; we were all here to make films about causes that we believed in. Film is like a new medium to spread awareness amongst the blind masses. If that is “The Purpose”, then I would say there was no competition at all. If there was competition, I didn’t feel the heat.
Sherrie: I don’t think it was a competition per se but an effort to recognise our voices through film-making of the concerns that we had in this country. All the three films highlighted issues involving the peoples’ right to be heard and social justice to be upheld.
Some regard it as all three having won, how did you see it?
Seira: All three are winners. We beat 20-30 other proposals wei! We are all winners!
Sherrie: There’s no doubt about it. The three films won the Justin Louis Award and were sponsored to do the films!
Why did you think Kayuh won the most outstanding film?
Seira: Kayuh deserved it. If you look at the issues in Kayuh, it really went to the heart of the rakyat’s struggle, which are repeated on a daily basis. And people could see – what was so dangerous about a cycling campaign? Its time for the Government to wake up and not be too paranoid.
Sherrie: Kayuh was really good. The journey and the struggle they went through to highlight their issues was really something to admire. They beat all odds despite having to go through the hurdles set up by the authorities, and yet they could still manage smiles on their faces! Amazing.
Any mistakes which could have been rectified?
Seira: Yeah a few. And some which I do not wish to discuss. I hoped the film was longer to be able incorporate more interviews that we could.
Sherrie: Some. I wished that we could manage to secure some interviews with the Barisan counterparts. We wrote and contacted them but we got no responses.
So, what’s next for The S-ploited?
Seira: We are seeking funds while mulling over several ideas.
Sherrie: What about doing a documentary on the punk rock movement in Malaysia?
LB’s gotta ask this – which is the coolest website in town? Are u a fan? If so, why?
Seira: Hands down, its loyarburok.com-lah, the greatest blawg. When it was down for a few weeks, I experienced withdrawal symptoms.
Sherrie: Loyarburok.com of course! It’s the most reliable website for me so far. The LoyarBurokkers also supported us all the way and helped with the conceptualisation of the film.
LB’s gotta ask this though we don’t really want to know but it’s a question from readers – any plans to get married and settle down for good?
Seira: Is this important?
Sherrie: Is this relevant? There are always plans but to settle down for good is not for me to decide at this moment.
You are now “mini-celebrities” – SPOTTED! – and your views may be more widely appreciated and heard. What do you think about the Bar Council’s ConstiLC’s MyConsti campaign?
Seira: I love the campaign! It’s a great campaign to create awareness on the Federal Constitution.
Sherrie: Not many people have a copy of the Constitution or know which article guarantees what rights. We were at the launch in November 2009 and we could feel the excitement of the rakyat. Good vibes yo’.
Any last words for your fans?
Seira: Someone famous once said, “Activism is by its nature a slog, but it depends why you’re doing it”. It’s tough work but it’s worthwhile, so keep fighting!
Sherrie: Politicians should never be like frogs. Bangkit rakyat!
LB: We knew the film would be a hit, so we stalked The S-ploited. Check out their film-making journey: We are ‘film-makers’ now, Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6, Day 7 & The End of a Journey.
[UPDATED on 8 July 2010] Mysteriously, after we published this interview, BFM sent onto radiosphere a podcast of its interview with The S-ploited on 3 July 2010. Don’t underestimate what LB can do to your mind!