After winning two awards at the coveted Malaysian Film Festival 2005 for his film "Puteri Gunung Ledang", which also elevated his status to the most sought-after director, Saw Teong Hin tried his best to stay out of the limelight, unlike other Malaysian directors who continuously produces films in every genre available. This was because despite 20 years of experience under his belt, Saw is still very picky when it comes to choosing a film to shoot, and he firmly believes that he should not make a film that does not rise above the quality of his previous works. Four years after "Apa Kata Hati?" in 2008, the man is back to direct a musical titled "Hoore! Hoore!", which plays out to the songs of the late Allahyarham Sudirman Haji Arshad and will be shown in cinemas across Malaysia on 24 May 2012.
Cinema Online had an interview with Saw Teong Hin in our very own office!
Q: Hi Saw! Would you mind enlightening us with the difficulties that you had to go through during the filming of "Hoore! Hoore!"?
Saw: Hi! Well, this film took me approximately 30 days to shoot. Seeing that it is a musical which requires a lot of dancers in certain scenes, it was quite difficult for me to give the directions to the crew as I was not well-versed in dance choreography. Also, to shoot the perfect dance scene takes a lot of patience. But I am really thankful for the dance crew as they really helped me a lot in that sense.
Q: Who inspired you to direct this musical film?
Saw: My inspiration actually came from Allahyarham Sudirman Haji Arshad himself. After discussing with the producer, making some preparations, research and more discussions, the producer and I finally came to agreement to create a musical film based on Allahyarham's life.
Q: Why did you choose Sudirman?
Saw: Everyone knows that Sudirman is one of the greatest entertainers of our time and his accomplishments shall always be remembered by every Malaysian. Even up until now, Malaysian radio stations have not stopped playing his songs from time to time. Apart from that, I also wanted to keep reminding our younger generations of his contributions in music and to our society so that his memories will live on in us for years to come.
Q: Are there any songs from Sudirman that you are particularly fond of?
Saw: I love all of his songs. However, my favourites would definitely have to be "Balik Kampung", "Basikal Tua" and also "Sampaikan Salam".
Q: Although you are a director, you have only directed a total of only two films before "Hoore! Hoore!". Why is that?
Saw: I am an idealistic person. I don't like to direct films from only one genre or films with similar stories to those that I have done before. I'm also not fond of directing the same film twice, for example a sequel. In my 12 years as director, I have only directed three films, which includes the upcoming "Hoore! Hoore!". There have been many opportunities in the past for me to take the director's seat, but many of those offers didn't have the criterion I wanted. I still hold to the principle whereby if I know that I am not able to deliver the best, then I might as well not take up on the work, or else I would just tarnish the credibility of our film industry.
Q: As a director, are you eager to be well-known or are you in this profession purely for money?
Saw: I am in this directing profession because of my deep interest in directing and films. If anyone wishes to state that the only reason a person is in the directing profession because of the money, well, that is their perception and I will keep on doing whatever I like. Furthermore if I really want the money that comes with directing, then I might as well jump into business, because, truth be told, being a director is not as easy as it looks. Not only that, I actually prefer to be known to people for my work rather than getting involved in controversies.
Q: Back to the topic of your involvement in directing, is there anything that you would like to clarify or tell your fans about yourself?
Saw: Before I became a director, I was working behind the scenes as part of the production crew in Pulau Pinang. But after a while, I wondered if this is what I really wanted in life. After thinking about it for what seems like forever, my friend actually suggested that I try directing, since I have always been known as the person who loves to direct and give input whenever needed in order to ensure the smooth running of a film. Also, I have to give my thanks to Datin Tiara Jacquelina. It was because of her that people knew me as a director, because she fully trusted me in handling "Puteri Gunung Ledang", which was also my directorial debut. Apart from that, before I became a full-fledged film director, I've taken on minor directing jobs such as directing music clips for rock bands like the Scorpion and other Singaporean artistes. I was also involved in the filming of commercials for popular brands such as Toyota, Cadbury and Nestle among others.
Q: Thank you so much for allowing us to interview you. We wish you all the best for your upcoming film!
Saw: You are welcome and see you again soon!