Interview with director Nor Hisham

  • Was there a particular event or time that you recognized that filmmaking is your way of telling stories?

Yes! I remember watching Star Wars just for the cool light saber action scenes. As entertaining as they are, they also invoke so much emotions within the audience. Over time, I started to see how Star Wars are not just for aesthetic, but also about a dysfunctional family, and a source of hope. I also started taking interest in indie films, and how they push the boundaries of storytelling. That is when I realized that filmmaking is my ultimate way of storytelling.

  • Do you think it is essential to go to a film institute in order to become a successful filmmaker?

In my personal opinion, I think filmmakers will minimally require the foundation of how filmmaking works, such as the cutaway takes, different camera angles and sound recording. It is extremely challenging to start with just YouTube tutorial knowledge. Believe me, I’ve been there before.

  • Is it harder to get started or to keep going? What was the particular thing that you had to conquer to do either?

It is easier to get started when you have the foundation knowledge. It is harder to keep going when time, weather and of course, budget is not on your side. We try to keep a very tight budget, so as to minimize overrunning of costs. In post, we realized that we needed to do a reshoot. Everyone’s availability plays a part, even for the rented equipment.

  • What was the most important lesson you had to learn that has had a positive effect on your film? How did that lesson happen?

Communication and initiative is very important. Without it, I will not have any team members to work with. Everyone understood where we were going with the scenes, and why it has to be done in a certain way. They also understood the compromise we had to make due to the inconvenience caused by the weather, timing and the shooting location.

  • What were the production realities from casting through editing that you had to accommodate? How did you navigate those compromises or surprises and still end up with a cohesive film?

We had to plan our shoot around the actors and actress’ schedule, especially when we have to reshoot some of the scenes. Furthermore, we were running extremely low on budget.

Ultimately, we did a draft edit and showed it to the actor to convince him why we had to do a reshoot. Fortunately, he did and was cooperative throughout it all.

  • What was the hardest artistic choice you made in the making of a film, at any stage in production?

Oh man. I think there were so many scenes that I drew in the storyboard that didn’t manage to make it to the final cut. We had planned to implement a few visions into the film, but they just didn’t make it. Knowing what needs to be told is crucial. I mean, you can have a fancy looking car or some fancy looking shots, but if it doesn’t tell you the story, it is not useful. That is something I had to constantly keep in mind during the filming. Don’t waste time.

  • You are a collaborator. How have you discovered members of your team and how do you keep the relationship with them strong?

Communication. We chat a lot. We talk about the film, our next project, what competition we should take part in. It builds a bond and a connection. We met through a local filmmaking course and from there, we just clicked. We love to help each other out, and we love making films together.

  • What do audiences want? And is it the filmmaker’s role to worry about that?

Audiences want their attention to be spent well. As a filmmaker, maintaining the audience’s attention throughout your film is one of the most important factors. You could have captured their attention for 30 seconds then lose it permanently, then they would have completely lost interest in your film. It’s scary. Therefore, keeping them curious, intrigued and asking for more are the key elements for keeping their attention.

  • What role have film festivals played in your life so far? Why are they necessary? How do you get the most out of them?

Film festivals has given me plenty of exposure. Regardless whether we have been selected or won, it is enough for audience to be curious and ask more about my film. I am really grateful to SHORT to the Point competition, as this is my first film, and first win in film festival. Friends, families and other people from the same industry from Singapore are intrigued, and started to ask questions such as if they are able to see it screened locally. How cool is that?

  • Do you believe that a filmmaker should be original and fresh or he/she should stick to classic but safe cinema style?

I believe in making the best of both worlds. You don’t want to bore the audience with the boring old clichéd storylines, and you also don’t wish to disconnect them too much with something totally new. Connecting them with both would create a better and more ideal film for everyone to enjoy.


BEST AMATEUR @ SHORT TO THE POINT – DECEMBER 2018 AWARDS

The Carpark | Singapore | 2018 | 8’

Director: Nor Hisham

Writer: Nor Hisham

Producers: Nor Hisham, Lim Li Yin

Key Cast: Firdaus Sani, Lim Li Yin, Tia Andrea Guttensohn, Nor Hisham        

Synopsis: A troubled man in search of the truth, inevitably resorts to lying to his wife.

watch the trailer here