Saturday, 22 November 2008


Yes, folks, you can now order THE ELEPHANT AND THE SEA DVD here.


Here's the press release:

Dear all,

The Elephant and the Sea DVD release on 19th November 2008

绿色电影制作公司 呈现 Produced by Greenlight Pictures.
大荒电影发行Distribute by Da Huang Pictures

The international and uncensored version of the multiple-award winning
film, THE ELEPHANT AND THE SEA, is now available to own on DVD.
The film, written and directed by Woo Ming Jin, has traveled in more than
30 international film festivals and is a favorite among film critics around
the world. In a glowing film review by Variety, the film is praised as 'the
work of a striking new voice on the East Asian film scene'. The Elephant
and the sea is produced by Greenlight Pictures and distributed by Da Huang


Movie Details

Cast- Berg Lee, Chung Kok Keong, Ng Meng Hui, Tan Chui Mui
Director- Woo Ming Jin
Produced by- Woo Ming Jin and Tomoko Ueda
Co-produced by- Edmund Yeo
出品人:上田智子 、胡明进


The Elephant and the Sea follows the lives of two individuals in the
aftermath of a water borne disease that strikes their fishing village. Has
there been a disaster? A deadly epidemic?

A week after the disease takes the life of his wife, Ah Ngau, a fisherman
by trade, is sent home with $300 in aid from the government and a cardboard
box of useless “donations” from the public. Instead of grieving for his
wife, Ah Ngau appears to have found a new sense of freedom, meeting a
prostitute and experiencing a long delayed sexual awakening.

Yun Ding makes a living doing an assortment of odd jobs, following his
“big brother” Long Chai around. Mostly they cheat and hustle their way
around, living off the naiveté of the public. When Long Chai succumbs to
the disease, Ding has to make it on his own. But can a person with no
direction in his life find something to hold on to?

An intriguing tragic comedy about the isolation of the human condition.



Best Film - Lisbon Village Film Festival 2008
Special Jury Prize - Torino International Film Festival 2007
Best Director Award - Cinema Digital Seoul Film Festival 2007
Critics Award - Cinema Digital Seoul Film Festival 2007
Best Director - Diba Barcelona Film Festival, Spain 2008

2008年 里斯本村电影节 – 最佳电影
多伦多国际电影节 – 评审特别奖
数码电影节 – 最佳导演
首尔数码电影节 – 影评人奖
巴塞隆纳电影节 – 最佳导演

Director’s Note

I wrote The Elephant and the Sea as a personal reflection of the county I
knew growing up. In 1999, an epidemic called Japanese Enchiphilitis struck
my hometown of Ipoh, and wiped out the pig farming industry. It also killed
over a hundred people. Many families, including my own, stopped eating pork
for more than 6 months even after the epidemic was gone. This outbreak was
a precursor to the SARS and bird flu virus that is looming over the region

The Elephant and the Sea to me is a film about emotional paralysis. Both Ah
Ngau, the fisherman, and Yun Ding, the drifter, are everyday people on the
peripheral of society. They hope for a way out of their rut through
superstitious beliefs (like finding winning lottery numbers on a fish),
though these superstitions may have been manufactured by their own
opportunistic countrymen.

Even as they stumble through life, they get little help from others. The
government, while on the surface appears to be sympathetic to their plight,
offer only superficial help, while the public uses a donation drive to
unload their trash and unwanted belongings.

To me, the film and its characters have an equilibrium that is constantly
rocked. Just like the Ying and Yang of Buddhism, both Ding and Ah Ngau will
pay for the consequences of their actions.

The Elephant and the Sea is a small film with universal themes that are
familiar to us. The people in the film, just like many in real life, are
“stuck” at a juncture in their lives, not smart enough to know the
answers to solve their predicaments, yet the inherent inertia that is life
will spur them on. Good or bad, life will go on.






I'll copy and paste what Ming Jin posted on Da Huang's blog.

For those of you who missed the blink-and-you'll-miss local cinema release of The Elephant and the Sea, the DVD is finally out!

The film has been screened in some 40 festivals and won 5 awards, in Spain, Italy, Portugal and Korea. We had a great run with the film, and though I wished more people could've seen it on the big screen, I'm happy at least now it'll have a second life on DVD.

The Elephant and the Sea is a film about people we meet at night markets, handphone stalls, and hawker stores. Even if you're not one of these people, you'll know who they are. I dreamed of these stories, but at the same time, they are stories told to me by my mother, uncles and aunts, and people I've had drinks with at the roadside Mamak stalls.

The film to me is at once a fantasy and also a reflection of reality. Berg Lee, the young "Tony Leung" of Malaysian cinema, is one of the leads. Another up and comer, Ng Meng Hui, plays the female lead. One of my favorite old timers, Chung Kok Keong, plays the older fisherman. His family grew up next to my mother's family in Kampar, Ipoh.

My friends are skeptical about this film. They ask me "Is this a good film? Am I going to fall asleep watching this film?" My answer to the first question is: I think so. But you should find out yourself. And the second: only if you expect to see a movie like Transformers.

I'm excited about the DVD because the folks at Da Huang put in a lot of work making the DVD just right. There are English and Chinese subtitles, and some additional features. This version slightly differs from the "festival" version in that we added some music in a few scenes. It is a modest film, no question, but it is a film made with great passion, and heart. So much heart I almost had a heart attack during the production. Ha ha. Joke.

Here is another frequently asked question: Why is the film called "The Elephant and the Sea" when there is barely an elephant in the film?

My answer: because the title reminds me of a far off place that is calm and beautiful but also tragic. To me, it describes a place where time has stood still, along with its people.

It's been a nice journey, and it's time for me to move on, as I embark on my new film, and other adventures. But this one will always be sort of my "first born" in some ways. You move on, but you never forget.

Ming Jin

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Woo Ming Jin Interview at Cinema Online

Woo Ming JIn
"I don’t really deliver messages in my movies. Even if people do see messages, I’ve never really paid much attention in delivering messages because my main intentions are to entertain or to tell a story. In this case, it’s more of a story to tell than to entertain. So wherever the story takes me, I’ll write it. I’m also very interested in the nature and irony of life. The movie has irony plot."

Ezekiel Lee Zhiang Yang interviews Ming Jin for Cinema Online.

Check out the interview, Woo-ing the audience.

以下是CINEMA ONLINE电影杂志对胡导演的专访。


Monday, 25 August 2008


You can practically feel the tropical air of Malaysia’s western coast. The dire consequences of unexpected death are punctuated by moments of such tender humor that—rather than becoming mired in tragedy—promise is revealed through whimsical perseverance.

- Michael Guillen, TWITCH

THE ELEPHANT AND THE SEA had been showing at Cathay Cineleisure since last Thursday, anyone seen it? Hope you've been able to catch it!

Here's a film review from TWITCH.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Sin Chew Daily's THE ELEPHANT AND THE SEA Write-up 星洲日報: 《大象與海》國際影展收穫豐‧鍾國強含蓄演漁夫



Sin Chew Daily had a write-up about THE ELEPHANT AND THE SEA's press conference last week. Click the link above!

I'll do a quick translation about the interview part for those who don't know Chinese:

(During the shoot, Berg Lee had to do a lot of research to understand the eccentricity of his character. It was also challenging for him because, despite the numerous motorbike scenes in the film, he didn't actually know how to ride a bike, and had to learn while he was there.

Berg also said that he got to improve his English while working with Ming Jin.

Ming Jin said that he had improved his own Chinese skills as well.

Actress Ng Meng Hui played a village girl, but due to the fact that she grew up in the city, she had to observe and study the mannerisms and daily lives of females living in rural areas so that she could do what Ming Jin wanted her to do.

Veteran actor Chung Kok Keong played the fisherman. After many years of acting on television, where they emphasize more on exaggerated mannerisms from actors, his first involvement in an independent film was a completely opposite experience. He wasn't allowed to react much at all!")

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Berg Lee's experience with THE ELEPHANT AND THE SEA 《大象与海》与李承运的故事


Our main actor, Berg Lee, posted his experience with THE ELEPHANT AND THE SEA shoot on his personal blog. Painful to read.

Read it here (in Chinese).

(To those who don't know Chinese:

Berg had some skin problems during the shoot, there was a boil on his nose (that was integrated into the script). During that period of time, he consulted numerous doctors, and finally found out that it was viral infection that left numerous scars and boils on his skin, most notably his nose.

He took a break after the shoot, and the break lasted for nearly a year. Good thing he's back again!

Even my friend Vanes (of the band Dian Bang) who attended the press screening last week definitely thinks that Berg's cute.)

《大象与海》男主角李承运在他的个人部落上描述了本片与他的故事。 那时候的他皮肤出现状况, 尤其是鼻子。 但现在已经完全痊愈了! 我的朋友VANES (大马独立乐队‘电棒’的主音!)上个星期去了首映礼后, 跟我说她简直是被承运迷倒了!


Monday, 18 August 2008

Woo Ming Jin Interview at Twitch

"What inspired The Elephant and the Sea was the JE (Japanese Enciphlitis) outbreak in Ipoh (my hometown) during the 1999 period, where all the pigs died, and also many farmers. People stopped eating pork for like a year. That was the starting point. I was living in Ipoh then, so it was something I took away."

The Visitor interviewed Ming Jin for the awesome Twitch site.

Check out the interview, 'Woo Ming Jin, Director Of THE ELEPHANT AND THE SEA, Talks About El Mariachi, Dead Pigs And Pachyderm'.

哈罗。 又是我, 毅恒! 这里快要变成我的个人部落了。 -_-'

胡明进导演现在正在纽约探亲, 但是你可以去阅读TWITCH电影网站对胡导演的专访。 请多支持!


Saturday, 16 August 2008

Cinema Online's ELEPHANT AND THE SEA Review

"With a strong undercurrent of how unfulfilling life truly is, ebbing away from watery themes of entrapment, burden and convalescence - Woo Ming Jin, a Malaysian without fake accents, has shot a world class art film that is at once outstanding among his peers."

- Cinema Online

Hi folks, Edmund here. Cinema Online had just put up a 4-star review (THANKS!) for THE ELEPHANT AND THE SEA. Check it out!


嗨! 大家好! 以下的是电影杂志CINEMA ONLINE 的《大象与海》影评。 多谢指教!


Tuesday, 12 August 2008


It finally happened! "The Elephant And The Sea" finally had its Malaysian Premiere at the Curve Cathay Cineplex this morning to a crowd of press, friends and family.
And I just got back in time for it! Many thanks to Edmund and the three-muskateers-interns for their hard work, and also to the people of Da Huang pictures for helping out!

After traveling to some 30 festivals or more, it's finally coming home. It's a great joy for me on a personal level to see the film finally hitting the theaters. Even if we don't do the business of films like Transformers or Dark Knight, I won't be disappointed... hehe. As I said, having it screened in Malaysia was one of the goals I had while making this film, so I was really happy today. And this is genuine happiness, which is rare. This is like having that realization that you're in love with someone, and there's that possibility that that someone loves you back. You're not totally sure, but it doesn't matter, because you're in love with her. or him. And it is this knowledge that makes you happy, as I am happy now. In this cynical world, I'm glad that I'm constantly falling in love. It's a great feeling.

And it was great seeing the old gang again. Berg, Meng Hui, Chung Kok Keong, Liang the cinematographer, Gan Hui Yee our PM/all purpose person. Having everyone together again and catching up is one of those things that just makes me feel that everything we've done, all the obstacles we've been through, they've all been worth it.

I felt like we had some sort of big family reunion. I mean, even if we haven't really been complete strangers all this while, an event like this, it makes your heart kinda fuzzy and I'm just glad that we're all friends and we're still together. Sometimes when you make difficult films, friendships are lost, and the bitterness lingers. I'm glad that did not happen. We were tight throughout the film, and we're tight now.

When I look back, it's been almost 2 years, this journey of The Elephant and The Sea. The journey's almost over, but hell, we've had a great ride. I'm up for the next one, for sure!

The film comes out on August 21! Only at Cathay Cineplex! I saw the malaysian edit with Edmund's additional music and I must say I was happy with the new cut. It's quicker paced, and generally very audience friendly. I am pretty confident the public will enjoy it, whether they are used to art films or not.

For the rest of you, I hope you'll take the time to find out!

Love and Kisses,

Ming Jin

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

THE ELEPHANT AND THE SEA Synopsis 《大象与海》剧情介绍

Hi. It's Edmund (or Swifty) again. Seems that Ming Jin had gone off to Australia. Our recent telemovie, KURUS (DAYS OF THE TURQUOISE SKY) was chosen for screening by The Brisbane International Film Festival. So it's up to me to fill in while he's gone.

But back to THE ELEPHANT AND THE SEA. Anyway, we'll be holding a press screening of the film at Cathay Cineleisure on the 12th of August, 11am (That's next Tuesday).

Based on some recent Facebook messages, I have a disturbing feeling that many people have mistaken that date to be THE ONE AND ONLY DAY we're screening the film in Malaysia. Look guys, THE ELEPHANT AND THE SEA begins its theatrical run at Cathay from the 21st of August. And like most indie films, it will have a 2-week run (more if box-office is good), so you can catch the film on weekends.

I made a mistake of not posting the synopsis of the film earlier, especially when I uploaded THE ELEPHANT AND THE SEA trailer, so I'm doing it now for those who're interested to know what is this film about.

The inhabitants of a Malaysian coastal fishing village struggle in a hostile environment. Has there been a disaster? A deadly epidemic? What happened to the elephant? Was there an elephant? An intriguing tragiccomedy about the isolation of the human condition.

This critically-acclaimed film had won the BEST DIRECTOR and CRITICS Awards at last year's Cine Digital Seoul Film Festival. It also won a SPECIAL JURY AWARD at the Torino Film Festival, and another BEST DIRECTOR Award at the recently concluded DIBA Digital Barcelona Film Festival in Spain.

I'm still in Tokyo, so I won't get to attend the press screening. I'm a little disappointed, since I'm eager to see what others have to say about my first attempt at composing for a film soundtrack.

Check out the trailer of THE ELEPHANT AND THE SEA if you haven't already.

大家好, 又是我, 杨毅恒。 我们绿灯电影制作公司的作品《不是师生恋》参与了布里斯本国际影展, 所以胡导演已经飞了去澳洲。 我又要在这部落里‘客串’了。

还是说回《大象与海》吧。 本片将在8月12日早上11点在CATHAY CINELEISURE为《大象与海》召开一个传媒试映会。 希望可以和传媒的朋友以及一些博客们分享此电影。 现在就与大家稍微介绍一下本片的剧情。


二十年前是台湾,今日是马来西亚,亚洲电影新潮下一站及可能重回到乡村路上打拼,然而 时移世易,编导胡明进不用乡土文学撑场,大胆单刀直入以大象为心像,以大海为意志浴场,作诗性超现实的现代探索。他与《太阳雨》的何宇恒等人的出现,令人开始憧憬马来西亚初生的华语电影。

我还在日本, 所以无法参与此试映会, 感得有点遗憾。 本身也想听一听大家对我所创作的电影配乐*有何评论。

我的中文还是很差, 请多多包涵。

* (本人是电影的其中一位制片人, 也有份参与片子的剪辑及配乐创作)

再次与大家分享一下小弟所剪辑出来的《大象与海》预告片, 请多多指教:

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Happy birthday, Ming Jin! 胡导演, 生日快乐!

Heya folks, Edmund here, THE ELEPHANT AND THE SEA will be opening in two weeks and I'm getting excited even though I'm thousands of kilometers away in Tokyo!

It's Ming Jin's birthday today. He's off to do a shoot, so I'm just wishing him happy birthday here!

From now on, my posts will be in dual languages. So I shall post this in Chinese as well!

嗨, 大家好! 我是杨毅恒, 大马独立电影《大象与海》的其中一位制片人, 也有份参与本片的剪辑还有配乐制作。 《大象与海》即将在八月二十一日上映。 还有两个星期的时间! 虽然小弟现在还在东京, 但真的是觉得很兴奋!

其实今天是导演胡明进*的生日。 他仍然忙着拍摄, 所以我只好在此祝他生日快乐。

从现在开始,我将利用英语及中文在这部落留言。 可是小弟的中文真的很烂, 所以请多多包涵。

* (在一些影展及网页上, 胡导演的名字总是被译成‘吴明金’, 其实那不是正确的写法, 只因为胡导演本身是受英文教育的, 所以没把自己的中文名字写好, 可是现在的他已经很勤力地在学习中文, 希望不久后, 他可以说一口流利的中文!)

Thursday, 24 July 2008


Hi guys,

We have officially begun pre-selling tickets for The Elephant and the Sea! These specially printed limited edition tickets are going for a special rate of RM6 for Students and RM8 for everyone else!

The tickets are valid for ANY screenings from AUGUST 21 to SEPTEMBER 3, 2008, at the CATHAY CINEPLEXES, at the CURVE DAMANSARA.

We are offering this discounted rate (from the normal RM10), to encourage people to watch the film, and just cause we can!

Here's another thing: the first 20 people who buy in BULK (10 ticket and above) will receive an invitation to our PRESS PREMIERE on August 12, where you can watch the movie and mingle with the almost famous stars of the film! (note the premiere will be held during the daytime)

We have roughly 500 tickets and once that's done, it's done.

So here's how you can get the tickets:

1. Tickets can be purchased and PICKED UP at the DA HUANG PICTURES office at SS1, Petaling Jaya. For more information please email us at

2. You can email us personally, and we can reserve the tickets for you to be picked up. If you are buying in bulk, there is a chance we may be able to deliver it to you.

3. If you would like to purchase tickets but cannot pick them up for some reason, please email us anyway, and we'll help you figure it out!

I hope you will all support us! Thanks


Wednesday, 9 July 2008


It has been a crazy few weeks! And it just gets busier...

Anyway today I would like to introduce an up and coming actress to the ELEPHANT AND THE SEA family: Tan Chui Mui, who plays 2 roles in the film!



MUI: I was not given a name. I sell fish, and sometimes I do something else..... Ohh.... My real name? My real name is Tan Chui Mui. I work in this big company called Da Huang Pictures. We do international business. We sell fish, and sometimes we do something else.


MUI: Did I have two roles? But the production manager paid me only for one role!
I was told that it is the SAME ROLE, that this girl is desperate for money, because her father is sick and her brother is in debt with loan shark, and her mother committed suicide. So she have to take two jobs. She work as a sales girl in this fish shop, selling expensive "flower horn" fish. At night she work as a call girl. Does that mean that I should had get paid for TWO ROLES?


MUI: Yes, when I was 15, I took a part time job in Penang, going door to door, persuading people to subscribe to a daily newspaper. In fact, I quite like the job. I think I am good at selling things, especially when I look a bit shy. I am good at selling movie DVDs especially!


MUI: Oh, yes, I put on some weight for that role. That was not difficult. Also, I slept for 4 hours before I acted in that "call girl" scene, so that my face get a bit swollen. The costume designer specially designed my outfit. I was suppose to have a pink wig, but the hair stylist lost it.


MUI: Oh yes, it was very comfortable lying down on the bed. In fact, that was the most comfortable position during the whole shoot. I don't mind to do more.


MUI: Oh. Yes. Sometimes I also direct. I think Woo Ming Jin is a serious director. He take care of his actors very well, and he make us very comfortable on set!


MUI: I think the question doesn't make sense.


MUI: I think I am multi-talented.


MUI: Yes, in fact I am now preparing for a role in Woo Ming Jin's next big action film. I'm now trying to lose weight to suit this role. I am also going to dinging, dancing and martial art classes.


MUI: Newspaper. Especially when you read it when it is the wrapping of your nasi lemak.


Thursday, 3 July 2008


I have started taking pictures with my NikonD80, which I bought last year but barely had a chance to use.

A couple months ago, I was chilling in some beach, and took some pictures. The picture I am posting now was taken in the late evening, almost at dusk (my favorite time to shoot or take photos). I saw some clouds forming into this interesting shape, and quickly snapped a few shots. This "formation" lasted for about 10 minutes before dissipating and then it started to rain.

This picture is a digital composite of roughly 5-6 pictures. CLICK on the picture to view the full size (though I have heavily compressed it).

I am doing a series of these "staged" photographs in the coming months. It's quite fun. It's like making a short film, but instead of shooting video, you take pictures.


Monday, 30 June 2008


My three lovely "biatches" from the TV movie

Hi folks!

Hope you all had a nice weekend. Mine was alright. Since our TV shoot is on a one week break, I got a chance to do a few things.

On Saturday I attended the KL Urbanscapes, organized by KLUE. Went to KLPAC for the second time, and there were loads of people. My film, "Kurus", played there, along with some of my short films. I sneaked into the screening and it was quite a full house. The only thing was people were coming in and out of the theatre (including meself haha), since it was an "all day fest" like atmostphere, but people were laughing at the right places and it was a light and jovial mood all around. I was happy to see lots of old and new friends.

Also, Da Huang set up a booth to sell dvds, and of course my dvd THE FOUR, which you can get at, sold like hot cakes! When I left, the 500 or so copies they brought were almost completely sold out! I also had the chance to sign a few copies that people bought.

Here I am posing with my dvd. A BIG thank you to Da Huang for all the hard work in designing and putting out the DVD!

On Sunday, a more important event was happening... A DOG FAIR! I brought my best pal/dog Oscar to the dog olympics in Central Park, ONE UTAMA. This is like the 6th or 7th time he's been to the fair (which is held every quarter or so), so when I asked him to get into the car yesterday morning, he was excited like all hell broke loose!

This is not Oscar.

Of course, Oscar's main objective in these events is pretty straight forward: to mount as many willing female dogs as he can. I have to say though, his success rate is pretty low. Most owners, especially those with snotty dogs whom they treat like humans, won't really take to Oscar trying to "mount" their "baby". Once when my pal Chelsia brought along her shih tzu, Oscar had a go at her for almost an hour, and still failed. Oscar has short legs. Or he must not be that smart. I don't know. But I feel for him in these kind of situations. Anyway he's a friendly dog and wants to get to know everyone. If you ever see Oscar and gave him a smile he'd come to you wagging his tail and jump all over you. He don't care who or what you are. If people were all like him, this would be a great place to live in.

Oscar the gangsta dog with unidentified pom.

LASTLY, below is the artwork for the tickets to "THE ELEPHANT AND THE SEA". We will be preselling these tickets to the public in the next few weeks! Anyone interested in helping me sell tickets, please tell me! Your help is totally appreciated from the bottom of my heart and I'd sing a song here if I could.
Ticket stub that says "BUY ME! BUY ME!"

I like the artwork. That's essentially the poster too. I'm a little worried that people might mistake the film for a cartoon, and when the see the film they'd want their money back... mmm... I must remember to leave Edmund's tel no. in the ticket stub... haha... kidding.

Saturday, 28 June 2008


It's pretty hard maintaining a blog while in production. For the past 2 weeks, I had been knee deep in another production. We shot for 8 days straight, from break of dawn, to dusk and beyond. I reached home on average around 11pm, and was awake the next day at 6.30am (very early for me). I lost around 2kgs in that period, and got a cold I'm still trying to shake off.

Well, that's the life of a filmmaker, they say. You're a brick layer, more or less. I do like physical work. Somehow, I much prefer it to say, sitting in an aircon room looking at some paperwork. Or being in meetings. That must be a reason why I like shooting outdoors. Most of my films are shot outdoors. Of course, the advantages of shooting outdoors are many:

1. If you find the right location, say a fishing dock, the production design work is done for you.
2. If you shoot in the mornings or at dusk, You will probably not need many lights. I am a fan of "the light of God". It is natural and beautiful.
3. You can somehow move faster and cover more ground when you are outdoors because there is more space and you are not restricted to say, a room, or a narrow hallway. Indoor shoots tend to be draggy, and people move slower. The air begins to thicken after a few hours in a room, I can tell you that.

The disadvantages:
1. Noise.
2. Weather. You can't control it.
3. People you can't control. Say if you shoot in a market. People keep looking at your camera. For this reason, I like to find sort of isolated locales.

For me, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. I can deal with noise. The weather will be decent sooner or later. People in general are nice (well, I'm an optimist).

I like to drive around places and just find stuff. I have a fascination with old stuff; basically anything that's kinda old and cool looking. I like new stuff too, of course. But old stuff photograph better. Old stuff look better on film and video. There's a history, unspoken stories in say, a dilapidated hut, or an abandoned whore house. (I believe you can find a few of those in Brickfields- haha).

In this posting, I would like to point out the folks of Kuala Selangor, some of whom participated in the film.

Above is a picture of a guy who plays a "lottery result slip" seller. He's one of those guys who photocopy results of the day's winning lottery numbers, then cut them up into strips and sells it to people for 20 cents or so. Back in the day, I suppose before cell phones and internet, you'd see these guys at traffic lights walking the aisles of stopped cars with their hands stretched out, displaying the result slips. If you had put some money on some 4D number and can't wait till tomorrow morning's paper to tell you you've lost, you could get the answer right there and then.

Somehow, those guys don't exist anymore. One of those occupations made obsolete. Anyway he's really a cool guy. If you come to Cathay Cineleisure to watch ELEPHANT AND THE SEA, you'll see him in a few scenes.

This older gentleman above here is a blacksmith. We were shooting right next to his shop, and once he'd finished work, he decided to sit outside his shop and read the papers, and hence, became our free extra! He wore these really big reading glasses which made him look funny. But he's quite a blacksmith. It's too bad we didn't included any footage of him shaping iron, cause he really looked like he's been doing it for years, which he has I'm sure. And here's another thing I like: Old bicycles, like the one beside him.

These are a bunch of kids whose parents owned a tailorshop. We were shooting a scene in front of the shop. It's a really cool and old shop. I think it has probably been there for a few generations. Maybe a few hundred years. Well maybe 50 years.

Here is the tailorshop in the background. Sitting with Berg Lee is a local Kuala Selangor man who plays a "client" of Berg's character.

And finally, here is a pictures of some kids, from Yun Ding's (the character Berg plays) "house". The house is next to the river, and the owner is a clam farm worker. These are his kids. If you've been to KS, you will know that clam farming is a big thing there. I used to dislike clams. These clams, called Sea hum in Cantonese, is bloody in taste and overloaded with iron. When I was young, my mother used to tell me that if I ate sea hum, I would probably die of iron poisoning or something of that sort. So I avoided it. In KS, they put sea hum is a lot of stuff. In their Laksa, all kinds of noodle and rich dishes. When you walk the banks of the river, you'd be stepping on millions of the shells. When waves hit the bank, you'd hear the symphony of shells crashing into each other. It's some kind of music, I can tell you that.

Anyway, that's a part of Kuala Selangor for you. The village here is called Pasir Penambang. A nice place to have some sea food. Or shoot a film.


Saturday, 21 June 2008


"The Elephant and the Sea" has just won the BEST DIRECTOR award at the recently concluded DIBA Digital Barcelona Film Festival in Spain. This marks the 4th award for the film!! After more than a year touring the international festival circuit, the film will hit the Cathay Cineplex at Cineleisure Curve this 21th August 2008!

Here is a link to the award listing on the site. It's in Spanish.


Q: What is your name?

A: Lesly leon lee.

Q: Are you related to Leon Lai?

A: No.

Q: Describe your role in the film The Elephant and the Sea.

A: I helped to build props. The fish cage, bazooka. And I crew for parts of the film.

Q: How did you build the bazooka? There were rumors you bought it from the Thai black market.

A: Of course rumors are not always true. Actually I used two pvc pipes.

Q: Does the bazooka actually work? I hear it was fired in the film.

A: Yes it did fire. But it wasn’t actual explosives. We used some fireworks.

Q: You WHAT? Fireworks? I thought film productions will usually fire real explosives. Not fake them. That's really disappointing to hear.

A: Actually we did fire some real bazooka rounds, during the preproduction period. But we lost too many extras. So we decided to use lower grade fireworks.

Q: By “lose extras” do you actually mean people died?

A: No comment.

Q: Were you disappointed that the scene did not make the final cut?

A: No. I had fun doing it.

Q: Did you enjoy watching The Elephant and the Sea? I heard you fell asleep during the movie.

A: I was a bit tired and there were some slow bits...

Q: Well I’ll be happy to inform you the new version is 14 minutes shorter and has more music. Would you pay to see this film in the theaters?

A: I would.

Q: Would you pay to see it twice, even if you are invited to the premiere?

A: Ming Jin asks me to say I would and I would bring my friends with me.

Q: Do you personally feel that this movie will set a record in the Malaysian box office?

A: I hope it will. I want it to. But… I don’t think it will happen.

Q: Are you a half empty or half full kind of person?

A: I used to be a half full kinda guy. Then I grew up.

Q: Thank you for your time.

Monday, 16 June 2008


We shot 3 stories in the film THE ELEPHANT AND THE SEA. Only TWO stories made it in the final cut.

Here now, we present, THE LOST SCENES. Well, ONE lost scene. I'll call this one "AH NGAU GETS A BAZOOKA POINTED AT HIM".

In this scene, AH NGAU, the fisherman, gets kidnapped by two pirates/immigrants, who take him to the jungle in hope of a ransom payout. The pirates carry a homemade bazooka, which my prop master Lesly found on EBAY and bought for a few bucks. Or at least that's what he told me. I hear you can purchase homemade bazookas made out of sawed off pipe and other stuff for a couple hundred Ringgit near the Thai border. I tried to ask a pimp I knew back from the day while I was there, but he didn't have any on stock, so in the end, Lesly did what he had to do to acquire one.

Shooting the kidnapping scene was extremely difficult. We had TWO boats, as you can see from above (bigger boat is AH NGAU's one, smaller boat, the pirates'), and we had to coordinate a perfect entry. The water was choppy, and the tide was a bitch that just kept twirling our boat around so that we could never get the framing right. This is one of those scenes that look cool and easy on paper, but in reality was really difficult to pull off. Plus it was hot as hell.

I wanted the kidnapper's boat to ENTER the shot in the scene. And it's a WIDE SHOT. So it had to be away from the horizon, or far off to the side. But because our boat's position kept shifting, as the tide knocked us around and further out to sea, we couldn't get the trajectory of the kidnappers boat's entry consistent. It look almost a dozen tries to get a decent take.

And it isn't easy to stand on a small boat holding a homemade bazooka. A couple of times, Hariry, the actor holding the bazooka, stood up on cue, and then stumbled down again as a wave kicked the boat.

One long afternoon for a scene that got cut out. But now it's on this blog!

Tell me if you like the pictures.

Saturday, 14 June 2008


Here are some animal thoughts on a Saturday night.

I've used a lot of animals in my films. I like animals a lot, dogs the most (though I have rarely put them in my films, if ever), also fish. In my first "real" short film, Mina in Perfection (MVA Gold Award Winner!) my animal of choice was a goldfish. There is a scene in the film, towards the end, where the fish appears to be floating in the fishbowl- dead. But instead of killing the fish, my prop guy fashioned a "dead fish" out of black gaffer's tape (the goldfish was black). It totally fooled everyone, and the fish survived the shoot- I returned it to the pet shop afterwards.

I've used TWO of my cats, Snowy and Buffy, in several of my films. Snowy starred in Love for Dogs, my first short in Malaysia. Buffy was in a couple of film, if I'm not mistaken, including Cinta Tiga Segi (a tv movie). Snowy, however, is no longer with us. She disappeared one night (no she did not run away), and we suspect a pack of wild dogs attacked and killed her. Buffy is still chilling with us. I like Buffy. She's cool. I named her after the Sarah Michelle Gellar character of course, but Buffy doesn't kick butt. she's chilled and laid back. And she doesn't whine like other cats.

And then there's Popi, my rabbit. I was not a big rabbit fan until I got married to my first wife, Tomoko. She loves rabbits. She draws them in her diary. Anyway, long story short, we got a rabbit. We went to a pet store, the lady said, this is a female rabbit, and we took her home. We named her Popi cause Tomoko had a rabbit called Roppi back home. Anyway, Popi is really cool. She's kinda like a cat, except she poops every 3-4 minutes. Popi is also in Cinta Tiga Segi. Then when we mixed Popi with another female rabbit, we discovered Popi was a MALE rabbit. Now Popi resides with us in the apartment. He's as cool as a rabbit can get.

Other animals that have not been so lucky: My beloved flowerhorn fish, Butachan, seen in Cinta Tiga Segi, succumbed to some weird disease a few weeks after the shoot, and... died a horrible and painful death. The diseased wiped out my entire fish collection in my apartment!! DO not confused Butachan with the OTHER flowerhorn fish in THE ELEPHANT AND THE SEA, who is now 2.5 years old and still kicking it in my 4ft tank (in my parent's house).

Here is a picture of my dog OSCAR. I named him not for the Oscar statuette, but after a type of my favorite fish, the Oscar fish, which is tri colored and looks like Oscar if it were a dog. the Oscar fish originates from the Amazon, and they are one of the most responsive fish you'll ever see. You can teach them tricks! Anyway I'm not making sense. but Oscar THE DOG is the COOLEST dog in the world, and one day I will put him in my film. Oscar has got one helluva story to tell: One day last September, Oscar was kidnapped by some immigrants, and after a long and heartbreaking search, and posting a BIG reward for information on his whereabouts, we recovered Oscar via a ransom exchange. The whole drama played out like a real kidnapping scenario; I got a call, negotiated a price, was told to wait at a meeting point, then brought to a hillside location, and made the exchange. That's the short version. This all would've been very exciting, under normal circumstances, but it really wasn't. I was just so eager to get him back, I would've paid any amount. Anyway he was near death, dehydrated when we got him back, but he's back to normal now!

Wednesday, 11 June 2008



Been a busy few days. Have been immersed with a few projects. One of them is a tv movie we're shooting next week! It's a cool and fun comedy that is inspired by Ugly Betty and Mean Girls (it'll be on ASTRO), and it's the first time I'll be shooting something with song and dance numbers! We've been prepping, doing all the last minute stuff like prop hunting, rehearsals, storyboarding, basically just getting all the elements in place.

Making movies is hard work! And people always say it's not really a "real job"... which I have to agree. I don't really consider it work, because I like what I do. So it's great to do what you like, and make a living out of it. Saying that, sometimes it really IS hard work, and like they say in film, "rush and wait"; you're either hanging around with nothing to do, or it's crazy time! And when the going gets tough, it can be really tough. Actors drop out. Schedules conflict. Props get lost. Locations can't be found. People fail you. Things can fall apart like dominoes, and the job of the producer (this is also my first time as a hands on producer, phew I miss you Edmund!) is damage control, and making sure everything is in its right "place".

But yea, as a filmmaker in Malaysia, sometimes you get the looks, especially if you are hanging out in say The Curve's Starbucks at 2pm on a Monday morning with your laptop (that's "work" for me). If you bump into a relative or acquittance (who undoubtedly is in a tie and meeting with other people in ties), the first look they give you, since you're in your sandals and t-shirt, is the "I-didn't-know-you-were-a-bum" look. And then when you tell them you make films, they give you the "I-didn't-know-you-were-a-bum" look again. Haha... And then when they say goodbye, they give you this half sad smile, which is the "It's-too-bad-you're-a-bum" look.

The worst thing for me is during Chinese New Year, with my relatives. Once I had a short film shown on TV, and in it, an actor has constipation and tries to take a dump several times. For YEARS, all I heard from relatives was "WHY MUST YOU MAKE FILMS ABOUT PEOPLE TAKING DUMPS?". Tough times.

Ok, I'm babbling! Moving on! The actor I'm introducing you to is none other than... CHUNG KOK KEONG.

He is the coolest "old timer" in Malaysia. Seriously. He's been around so long I believe they didn't have televisions here when he started in the business. That's how long he's been around. So he started in radio shows. And now he's in my film. Non Malaysians who watch the film tend to like Chung Kok Keong more than Berg (the younger guy), while locals prefer Berg. I don't know why this is. For me, I think CKK has that look that just tells you he's been through so much, it's not worth telling you his story, but you can try to read it off his face. I knew when I saw him, I didn't need to do much. In fact, I needed him to do LESS.

Anyway he does a pretty cool job in THE ELEPHANT AND THE SEA. I'm happy with the performance. In the film, he plays a fisherman whose wife dies, then has a spiritual "awakening" of sorts. A couple of critics say that "he has the fisherman role in his bones"... which is a great compliment, because Chung Kok Keong is no fisherman and he doesn't particularly like water too much. But he's a trooper.

Here is a picture of Chung Kok Keong with some diseased chickens... Avian Flu anyone?