Local talents have been showcasing amazing and relatable films, movies, skits and plays – evident through the various releases throughout the years.
Most of the inspiration comes from personal experiences, touching the hearts of many, while others are renditions of existing films.
Director Hazrul Aizan cum Executive Producer of New Day – a series focusing on young adult action adventures – created the show inspired by his adventures and travels during his studies in the United Kingdom (UK).
“(My inspiration also comes from) growing up watching films like Harry Potter, the Da Vinci Code and 80s adventure films like E.T.”
“I wanted to capture the essence of going abroad, travelling and going on an adventure (while) getting to know the place for the very first time. I wanted to capture that experience with the sights and places in Brunei,” added Hazrul.
New Day is a three-episode series, each between 16 to 18 minutes long and will be aired on Progresif Media sometime in November or December this year.
The series will feature best friend trio – Danial, Hazel and Adrian through their young adult adventures.
Lead role of the series, Ahmad Hazim Rosle shares that his character, Danial is the grandson of a famous historian.
“A tragedy happens to his grandfather and he sets off on an adventure to find the truth. He is headstrong, and brave but reckless. He relies on his two best friends, Hazel and Adrian.”
Featuring emerging and fresh talents, the cast auditioned through social media during the third wave of the coronavirus in the sultanate.
“I posted a question on my social media if anyone was keen to act in the series, there were quite a number of interest and they had to submit a video reading lines,” said the director.
He shared that from there, each cast was carefully chosen with particular attention given to who would encapsulate the main character Danial, best.
“I approached Hazim Rosle who plays Danial, on social media as I have grown to appreciate his acting as Johan in a Progresif Media TV Series called ‘I Wanna Be Femes’ directed by Iskandar Karim,” said Hazrul.
“Hazim also appeared in his first ever short film called ‘Kawan’, where he acted as Kyle. (He) is a great actor and I believe that he would be able to capture Danial,” he added.
Hazim, 26, who has previously worked with the director, shared that he had a number of previous acting experiences.
“I have a lot of firsts in the series like jumping off a boat and pretending to drown in a river.”
“There were also fighting scenes which I have never done and enjoyed very much. I love acting because I get to go on exciting adventures and do all these stunts,” added the main star.
Hazim hopes to send a positive message through the series and his acting – particularly about the importance of friendship.
“Anything is possible when you have the right people to support you. I hope everyone will enjoy the series as much as I enjoyed portraying Danial.”
Hazim shared that he enjoyed working with the other cast members, with no dull moment on and off set.
“I had such a wonderful time working with them and without a doubt would be down to work with them again if another opportunity rises.”
For first-time actor Jabbar Abdullah or Jabby, who plays Adrian, the chance to come and audition for the role was exciting.
“I am more of a musical person who likes to sing but I had so much fun right off the bat. I have heard of Envoy Films before but this was my first time working with the director and the rest of the cast.”
“From the beginning, we all got along very well and felt like we were friends before we started working on the show. (I have) no regrets,” he added.
He describes his character as the funny, energetic type of person who is always there for his friends and just wants to live life to the fullest.
Through the film, Jabby hopes to show the youths of Brunei that they can do anything they set their mind to.
“With a little hard work and determination, anything is possible and have fun doing what you love.”
He praises the creative industry in Brunei, adding that there are many amazing and talented individuals around.
“The creative industry is very good and talents are just waiting for their time in the spotlight, there is always room for improvement and I believe things will only get better.”
Playing the role of Hazel is 24-year-old Farrah Majid, a film student from Mahakarya Institute of the Arts Asia.
The budding actress was approached by the director after seeing her perform in a local Youtube sitcom, Babu-Nya.
“I was chosen to play Hazel, a best friend to Danial and Adrian. She is a reliable friend and will always be there for them especially in solving the clues.”
The film student expressed that taking part in the film allowed her to discover new places in Brunei while working with the other cast members and crew.
By playing Hazel, she hopes to send a message to viewers to have fun and enjoy life, encouraging others to appreciate the little things in life.
“I love acting, it has been my passion and speaking of experience. I learned that sometimes it is not easy to deliver what the director wants but I never give up.”
“I always seek help from the director such as Siti Kamaludin, the managing director and producer at Origin Films Sdn Bhd, and actually if it was not because of her, I would not be here.”
Speaking on the local creative industry, Farrah said it is still a hidden gem that needs to develop through continuous efforts.
“From my perspective as a film student, the creative industry should not get taken advantage of, and within the creative industry community, we should help and support each other.”
Additionally, being in the industry gives her the opportunity to work with creative individuals, and experience different characters while being able to express herself freely.
“I’ve always believed acting is for me and I love film making,” said Farrah, adding that she hopes the general public will relate to the series and share it with their family and friends.
Meanwhile, local model, actor and freelance interior designer, Amir Rashid was surprised to receive a call to act as a villain for the New Day series.
“I got a call from Origin Artistic’s Film Producer, Munji, who asked if I would be interested to play a villain to which I was shocked and happy at the same time.”
“Since I have been in the creative industry (for a while), I have never played a villain but have been wanting to try. I did not expect that playing a villain would be pretty hard.”
After a private audition at the Mahakarya institute, he was selected to play the character named Isa, known in the series as the Butterfly Man.
The 24-year-old shared that he enjoyed a particular scene in the series – learning to ride a boat and riding an all-terrain vehicle (ATV).
“This was definitely one of the best experiences I have had especially when we got to play a scene at very challenging times and locations at iconic places in Brunei.”
He added that working throughout the scenes was enjoyable as the cast and crew were friendly and took care of the actors well.
Amir hopes the creative industry in Brunei will reach a greater impact as he sees great potential and growth throughout the years.
“I hope everyone will enjoy the New Day series particularly as there are a lot of adventures and mysteries in it!”
For Wafa Sabri, who plays Ana, villain and protagonist alongside Isa, acting in the series brought her back to her childhood days and represented who she is – an exciting and daring individual.
“(In the series), I work with Isa to retrieve a valuable item from Adrian. My favourite part was riding on the ATV as I grew up adventurous and curious to try new things.”
The 24-year-old was also approached through social media as the director commented she had a villainess look when she poses for pictures.
“(That made me) a great fit for the role. I have never met or spoken to the director prior to New Day, and only got to know him throughout the script reading and production.”
“Working with the director was fun and we had to put a lot of trust in him and his vision. He was professional and understanding when a difficult situation arises.”
New in acting, Wafa shared that she tries her best to deliver emotions and body language describing anger, frustration or annoyance throughout the production.
“I have done YouTube for a year and the only thing similar to acting was being in front of the camera, and in public. I always vlog in public and it never bothers me when people look at me. So when I first started acting, everything came naturally, but it did take a lot of work to perfect the body language.”
Wafa also praised the cast and crew for creating a thrilling, exciting and fun environment.
Through the series, she hopes to portray the message to viewers that if they find something they enjoy or love to do in life, they should just do it.
“Especially when you are passionate because we only live once and we do not want to live life growing old in regret. This made me pursue content creation, Youtube as well as acting.”
The creative industry in Brunei said that it is unique and comes in many forms.
“There are actors and actresses, artists, dancers, fashion creators, and even bloggers. The only improvement I would ask for is true support and respect.”
“I have worked with several local and international brands. Some do not want to pay for our work when we do this as a job; either part-time, or full time. We work as hard as anyone else. From planning to preparing, editing to executing, and using materials or products. These take up our time, energy, and money to deliver what they need.”
Behind the scenes
With every production comes people working hard behind the scenes.
For New Day, production design played a huge part in bringing the scenes to life and it was all done by 19-year-old, Dania Nur Amirah Halidy.
Fairly new in the industry as she just began enroling at Mahakarya Insitute in January this year, she shared her journey to produce four set designs as the series was filming; the bedroom, laboratory, pond and cafe, each taking a few hours to create.
With several assistants helping her, Dania sourced items for the scenes including water and digging materials, working hard into the night for one of the sets.
“As with every job, there will always be ups and downs – it was quite a journey for me to create design sets with the changing schedules and locations, however, I enjoyed the process throughout.”
“If you’re passionate, then you can do anything you set your heart to and I am really grateful that my surroundings had trust in me, helped me through the process and was satisfied with the result,” added Dania.
She also praised the director for giving good visualisations of how the sets should look, making it easy for her to understand and turn the ideas into reality.
When asked about the creative industry in Brunei, Dania believes that it has grown well over the years.
“(It is nice to see) that we have started to make our own films, I am really proud of the progress and development.”
“Improvements that I hope can be made is for our society to become more acceptable and open-minded of local films as we are able to achieve really good quality stories.”
No production is complete without make up and wardrobe, a fairly significant part in every series making.
Assistant production manager, Minori Ramzi was committed to delivering each character well, choosing the appropriate wardrobe and assisting in make up applications and touch ups whenever needed.
“The wardrobe did not take long to source as the clothes are thrifted and talents also brought their own clothing sets. In total, it took a mere five to seven days.”
Minori shares that people often undermine the importance of the role of production manager which heavily involves paperwork, proper management and allocation of time.
“You need to be level-headed, and never give up, especially when there are obstacles along the way. One must be able to think on their feet, figure out a solution while understanding the characters and instilling creativity when bringing characters to life while following the director’s vision.”
As the creative industry continues to grow, she hopes to be more involved to assist in the growth of the industry and its community.
“Since the industry is small, I believe we should always share with each other and be open to younger as well as older creatives; helping together while being honest and fair.”
Through the lens
Director of Photography, Alfath Sellahuddin was the lens behind the series and alumni of the Mahakarya Institute.
“The New Day series is very different from the other projects I have worked on and enjoyed it very much. The best part was shooting at many locations I have never been to and meeting new talented faces.”
This was what stood out the most to Alfath – the plot of the series and the locations selected.
“There was one scene where we shot at Jong Batu and the actor had to jump into the river – that shows me how dedicated the actors are in making this series.”
Through his work, he hopes the audience can capture the trio’s friendship and bond; helping each other through ups and downs while not leaving anyone behind.
Already four years in the creative industry, he believes it has improved with more content produced than ever before.
“I just hope that we are getting more support from the government and more locals step up to create Bruneian content.”
The 20-year-old concluded by adding that the more local creations, the more the nation’s name will rise and he hopes that people will enjoy the New Day series.
THE BRUNEIAN | BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN