Having been working only on advertisements, short films and music videos, now director Emir Ezwan has been given the chance to helm a feature film under Kuman Pictures, entitled "Roh".
According to Kuman Pictures founder and executive producer Amir Muhammad, he gave the director complete trust and freedom in bringing the latter's creativity into the movie.
To the uninitiated, Emir worked as a visual effects supervisor in the movies "Crossroads: One Two Jaga" (2018) and "Motif" (2019).
He was also the director of the 2016 short film, "RM10", which was selected to compete at the Fribourg International Film Festival.
"Roh" features only six cast members: Farah Ahmad, Mhia Farhana, Harith Haziq, Namron and his wife Junainah M. Lojong, as well as Putri Syahadah Nurqaseh.
The horror movie was originally scheduled for release this 19 March, but it had to be postponed to a new date following the Movement Control Order that was issued by the government to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Cinema Online had the chance to interview Emir during the recent special screening and press conference of "Roh" at TGV 1 Utama, Petaling Jaya.
Read on below for our interview with Emir Ezwan.
Cinema Online: How did you come up with the idea for this movie?
Emir: The idea for this movie sparked when Kuman Pictures wanted to make a horror movie with something different to it. Horror movies don't necessarily require a lot of jump scares and images of the ghosts. I was inspired by the 1964 Japanese classic film "Onibaba", a horror movie but it doesn't have a lot of ghosts in it. Initially, I wanted to produce "Roh" in black and white but was worried that it would be received well.
What's the message you try to deliver in this movie?
I think that this movie is more about questions rather than messages. The message depends on the individual, what they get after watching the movie. The main thing that I want to deliver in this movie is trickery, what the audience feels when they see the family in the movie being made a fool of.
Maybe because of that, there are some who think that this movie is too heavy. Everything has a hidden message, same like this movie. I don't mind if there are audience members who don't understand it, I will just accept the different perceptions.
Why did you choose to focus on period horror?
The movie is set between the 18th and 19th centuries. It's just something different that we wanted to bring to the table. There are a lot of period horror movies that have been produced in other countries, only in Malaysia that it hasn't been done a lot.
What preparation did you do ahead of filming?
My involvement with it started from the scriptwriting process. Since this is my first feature film, I had to do a lot of research like reading books and watching horror movies. Through "Roh", I hope to create a story that will make the audiences think.
Did you face any challenges directing the child actors?
Alhamdulillah, I didn't face any trouble throughout the filming because they understood the story from the script. There wasn't a lot of dialogue either so it was easy for me and easy for them.
I actually want this to be a trilogy, where Bulan will try to eradicate all the smuggling syndicates in Malaysia, then head to Thailand and end it all in Vietnam. But all this depends on the reception first.
Can you explain why the horror scene was approved by the Film Censorship Board (LPF)?
Maybe the camera angle made the horror seem inconspicuous. Maybe because of that the scene was not cut. Alhamdulillah, the LPF approved the movie with no cuts and classifies it as PG13.
Any plans for a sequel?
It all depends on Kuman Pictures. We also plan to bring this movie to the global platform, like last year this movie was screened at the Singapore International Film Festival and was also screened at the Jogja-NETPAC Asian Film Festival.
Can you share with us what projects you will be working on next?
At the moment, I have no new projects because I have to focus on other works. I'll only direct feature films if I have the time. Most likely, if I follow my plan, I want to explore other genres out there. Maybe after this I'll do a sci-fi film.
Don't miss out on watching "Roh", which will be showing in cinemas near you soon!