Indie filmmaker and all-time film enthusiast, Azlan Norani is the name to look out for in the local film scene. With a couple of short films under his belt and more projects incoming, Azlan shares with us his hopes for our film industry, what awaits him next, and his advice to aspiring filmmakers.
AIDILINA SHAHIRAH: Hello, Azlan! Thank you so much for taking time off to speak with us. I am very excited to get to know more about you. As a filmmaker that has dabbled in the local scene, what do you make of the local film industry right now?
AZLAN NORANI: Hello, my name is Mohamad Azlan Norani but you can call me Azlan Norani, and I’m a young indie filmmaker. For me, the Malaysian film industry is beginning to improve. There’s no denying that last time during the 1950s -1960’s, our films were actually of pretty good quality and were famous throughout Asian cinema. Not to mention, our standards were also respected. From then onwards, our industry has been like a roller coaster. Only until a couple of years ago, has our industry improved to a whole new level. More young aspiring filmmakers are making good films, we won international awards, some of our movies raked in RM20-40 million, and our quality has increased, but we can’t compare to other films due to our budget constraints.
AIDILINA SHAHIRAH: There’s no denying that our local film industry continues to improve over time and your answer is proof to that. However, in reality, is the Malaysian film industry growing or do we continue to lose out to foreign films?
AZLAN NORANI: We can’t really compare these two together as our local population is only around 30 million, hence why our ticket sales can’t really match up to foreign films. But surprisingly, even with a small population, we managed to collect RM30 million for Hantu Kak Limah and RM40 million for Munafik 2, just to name a few movies. It goes to show that our film industry is doing okay but it still needs a lot of movement. In fact, Malaysia has a government incentive and grant for filmmakers, and as far as I know, other countries do not have that as their fundings mostly comes from NGOs and the such. I can see the Malaysian film industry becoming as good as others if they implement a few changes to improve distribution and control the monopolisation of cinema.
AIDILINA SHAHIRAH: As someone from the industry, what can you foresee of our film industry in the next five years?
AZLAN NORANI: During my studies, my lecturers taught me to think further and not only focus on this side of the pond. In fact, I sent my first film debut to Netflix. Nowadays, there are no boundaries in technology – we can connect with other filmmakers throughout the world, and maybe collaborate and distribute films not only in Malaysia or Southeast Asia but further. However, to me, the most important thing to remember is content. If our filmmakers can create good content, or have compelling ideas to pitch internationally, maybe it will pull the industry professionals to work with us to make a film that can be distributed outside, which can increase the standard of our industry. I’m sure there are others with the same mindset as me that tries to elevate our films to a whole new level. In five years’ time, we can be as good and maybe even be the top in Asian cinemas, but I personally think we can go international in that span of time.
AIDILINA SHAHIRAH: I’m sure like so many others, you started out as just a boy with a dream – my question to you is, what is your advice for aspiring filmmakers out there?
AZLAN NORANI: Firstly, you need to have connections. Build a connection. In filmmaking, it’s all about connection and teamwork – you can’t make films on your own. With good connections, it can increase your production value and help cut down your costs. Secondly, practise, practise, practise. Create the film that you want. Every time you practise, you’re increasing your talent and improving your craft. Nowadays, people don’t really take notice of what’s written on a piece of paper, it’s all about results – they want to see your portfolio, your craft or your showreels. So, make a lot of it so that people know you have the ability to create a good movie. Lastly to me, have a good connection, not only with your friends, team or colleagues, but also with God. Keep up the good work and never give up. There is no shortcut in filmmaking; it’s full of hurdles. Remember, you have to stay strong always and never give up.
AIDILINA SHAHIRAH: What can we expect from you in the future Azlan? Do you have any projects lined up?
AZLAN NORANI: I have a few projects lined up for now. My first project is Legasi, a featured action film in collaboration with MINDEF and Yayasan Telekom (TM) which is scheduled for shooting by year-end. I also have an upcoming action telefilm titled The Seventh Flower, which leans more towards the culture and heritage of silat and will be aired on Astro First. Currently ongoing is the Young Filmmaker 2021 which is also in collaboration with Yayasan TM, if anyone is interested, they can always participate with the grand prize being RM5,000 and a total cash prize of RM25,000. Lastly, I’m also in the process of writing an action-comedy telefilm.
AIDILINA SHAHIRAH: Thank you so much for your time, Azlan. For those who wish to get in touch with you, how can they do so?