My Way from FLY to AFA / by next new wave

As the 3rd Young Filmmakers Workshop will select 2 most promising participants represent Malaysia for FLY workshop this year, we are glad to invite our alumnus last year -- Putri Purnama Sugua to share about her journey to FLY program and the preparation to the AFA this year!

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Hi Putri, Nice to meet you! Can you introduce yourself and tell us more about your feeling when you’re selected to FLY Workshop?

Hello everyone, I am Putri Purnama Sugua. I'm producing participant of 2nd Young Filmmakers Workshop. I still remember the moment when my name was announced by Mr. Choi, the Director of Busan Film Commission on the night of Next New Wave graduation ceremony, I was surprised and I didn’t not expect to be chosen actually. There were 14 of us participants and each of us are talented and passionate in making films. Therefore, the chance to be chosen to participate in FLY workshop is very low and yet my name was announced. I was startled as I wasn’t focusing on the speech and the announcement. Suddenly a friend next to me which I’m not mistaken is Rose? Telling me: “Putri! Your name was being mentioned. Huh? Mentioned for what? You’ve been selected for FLY!” I was so surprised. I got up, went to the stage and felt so happy and overwhelmed. At the same time, the fact that I’m going to represent my country for the SEA young filmmakers workshop really makes me feel eager to do my best during the FLY workshop. Like I said during the speech after receiving the fly certificate I was saying to others that I will make Malaysia proud and I’m glad that I did it, which is being chosen to represent Malaysia for Asia Film Academy

So, how was the preparation before you go to FLY workshop?

There is no much preparation on my side because everything was already prepare by FLY. Before we went to Cambodia, the FLY coordinator gave us a list of stuff we should bring, like what kind of wardrobe we should use what kind of daily stuff to bring. Other than that, before FLY start, we have been divided into 2 teams and I was in Team A. One month before the workshop start, we did our pre-production process online. The first 3 weeks were the weeks where we developed our idea for the short film that we will shoot in the FLY workshop. The rest of it is all script development where we need to come out with an idea. Through that idea, we need to make a script. All this process was done through Skype. Each of us select a day in a week, mostly end of the week, and arrange a Skype meeting where we discussed what idea we want, what kind of script and genre is suitable and how we want to develop our story to make it interesting. After that we send it to our mentor. The mentor gave some comments about it and we make corrections and discussed again how to make it better. The best part of communicating through Skype, is that not only we discussed about script or idea but we also chat about ourselves. Through that, we try to understand each other. We became closer during online pre-production period and we became friends for so long. We talked about our personal matters and share stuff like the films we like and the genres we like. By doing this, we started to understand each other and know what this person like, doesn’t like and this person perspective on film. For me as a producer, I can know what my team is. We became very close after that. When we first met in Cambodia, I remember I was the second last person to join my team because my flight was delay. When I reached, my team members were together. When they saw me, they ran to me and hug me as seem as we were long lost friend who finally reunite. When the FLY coordinate saw how close we are, they were surprised because we look like we have known each other for so long.  And I’m glad we are doing that, because after our first meeting, everything went smooth because we do not need to face any awkward moments like when you meet someone for the first time and when you get to know them. All the time, other than preparing for this trip, we were having so much fun.  We played, chit chat, talk about films and our argument always ended in a good way. I’m so glad that we did the online pre-production. It was important for us to make us comfortable with each other even before we meet.

Wow! I can really see how the pre-production works! So, what is your role during FLY Workshop?

My role during the FLY workshop was being a producer. This role was actually selected by myself during the role selection. After our script was done, our coordinator asked us to pick our own role and I chose producing. I chose producing because I wanted to experience how tough it is in producing in an international production. I learnt a lot of producing stuff from this FLY workshop. As a producer, I automatically became the leader of the group. Everyone will depend on me in decision making and I need to lead the group properly. So, it is a big task for me but I love doing it because I get to challenge myself by doing it. Even though when I first arrived there, I was not confident with my English, especially with my writing and speaking skills. When we met each other, everyone was so supportive and it makes my producing work so easy. If there is a time that we argue, like when we don’t share the same idea, I still managed to unite my team. We argue yet after that everyone will still agree on what we have decided after the argument. Normally in my other experience as producer, when the members do not understand or agree with each other it ended up with fighting with each other. All this change when I was in FLY, we are unite all the time. Even when the argument is big, we also ended up with an agreement. The best part of being a leader, is my other members respect me as a producer as they always asked me when they want to make any changes. They know that as a leader or producer, the final decision comes from me and that’s the best part because they make me participate in the decision making and depended on me to decide. I feel overwhelmed with that and I feel like a very important person. By feeling that, it makes me more eager to make sure to create the best short film, I also need to make sure everyone is unite always. I said to my team that even though this might be a workshop where everyone need to focus on making a script but I want them to have fun and enjoy this moment. Not only we came to make a film but we also came to make connections. Our friendship and work will not end here and it will continue after this workshop in Cambodia. I expect my team to work together even after the workshop. I will always remember that being a producer in this workshop will be the best experience for me.

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Can you share us more about the experiences and challenges with mentors and participants from other SEA countries?

There were a lot of experiences that I’ve been through during the workshop. Going to Cambodia was my first experience traveling abroad. Being selected by FLY was very meaningful, as I managed to experience in working and making film abroad because normally I’m used to making films in Malaysia. It was not my first experience doing core production, because I have done it in Malaysia. It was my first time doing it in other country and as a producer, there were lots of challenges such as language barrier. Not everyone can speak English fluently. We sometimes used sign language to understand each other. Other members such as Alissa from Thailand and Jolina from Singapore, they are fluent in English. Even though we don’t know what to say but we understand each other. The experience of working together with friends from all over South East Asia as wonderful, even though we don’t know them well, we can still work together. We can still have the same idea.

For the experience of making the film, there were a lot of new things that I learned such as preparing for our shoot. When working in core production, everything has to be very detailed and well managed. We need to make sure our preparation were over the top, make sure everything is completed before shooting.

Like I mentioned before, language barrier was a challenge but we manage to overcome it by trying to understand each other. We managed to understand each other easily because we already know much about each other during pre-production. Other than that, for the shoot, the place we used was in a rural area, it was an old house. Before the shoot, it was raining regularly. Hence, it flooded. So before shooting, we have to clean up the area and it was quite dangerous with all the hardware around and we had to work around the wet area. We tried to be careful and made sure we were safe.

The whole process of FLY workshop was a great experience and will be the one that I will always remember.

Even though we have challenges, but I can say that what I had been through in Cambodia was not the most difficult challenges that I faced, and all the challenges are manageable. And you’ll learn something out of it.

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Cool! You should've many memorable moment during the FLY workshop. Can share us more?

There were a lot of memorable moments. The most memorable moment that I remember was our fusrt meeting in Cambodia. Before this, we had our online pre-production, we were closed. Before I went to Cambodia, I was wondering how we will react when we see each other. Surprisingly, when I arrived, the others were there and when they saw me, they came running to me and hugged me. Finally we met each other. And from that moment, we never stop talking. I haven’t ate yet at that time and they accompany me to dinner. They set up a table and took food for me. It’s like we already know each other for a long time and we were the loudest people at that time. The other teams were not talking to each other. Everyone was awkward while we were close, like a friends having a reunion. That was one of the memorable moments.

Other than that, another moment was when my name was announced for the Asia Film Academy. When I was selected by FLY, I also wanted to be selected to Asia Film Academy. It’s my dream to go there, and it’s hard to be chosen to be a trainee at the academy. My name was announced again to represent Malaysia to attend Asia Film Academy. It’s one of the memorable experience, everyone cheered for me when I walked to the stage. It was Mr. Choi again who present me the scholarship. It was a very memorable moment that I will remember.

Lastly, it was during our wrap party, because we know we have completed our short film our work and it was time to enjoy ourselves. It is a very fun moment, everyone was dancing and singing and we have a long chit chat. Although it was supposed to be a happy moment, we were sad as we will be departing the next day. We were supposed to go back to our hotel to sleep after the wrap party, but we decided to spend the whole night together and talked about everything. We wanted to spend our last night together.

I made films in Malaysia. I’ve been through a lot of production. However, FLY was fun because other than making and discussing on films, most of the time we had fun. When we are preparing for our final draft of the script, we sat in a room together,where the 3 directors focused on developing the ideas, while the rest of us gave our ideas. While waiting, we played games. We also had time to play games and discuss on films at the same time. So, we were all not stressed out. Even when we need to prepare stuff, we make sure it was in a relaxing and fun way. When things don’t come out well, we will encourage each other.

There are a lot of memorable experience that I will remember. Even when we eat together, we talk about personal stuff during lunch and dinner. When we have to get ready for shoot, we played games, did our work and had fun at the same time.

How FLY workshop change your perspective..especially on filmmaking?

FLY changed a lot of my perspective on filmmaking. One of it is how as a producer, I can understand people more. Before attending FLY, I did a lot of stuff by myself and work with a small team. It was difficult for me to trust people, especially when making my short film However, after going through FLY, it changed my perspective on trying to understand people. It makes me trust people more and believe them as well as depend on them to help you. Besides, FLY built up my confidence. As a filmmaker, I will always challenge myself and face difficult moments. I won’t give up even when it’s difficult. It makes me want to pursue it, like having a core production work. I never thought of having a core production work while I was in Malaysia. After FLY, I started to think of making a core production work and I planned to produce a film with my friends from South East Asia. My perspective on producing changed as I learned a lot from the FLY program.

Before we announce the two finalists this year, give us a quote to the young filmmakers/upcoming participants to FLY workshop? 

If you guys are selected for FLY, you’ll be asking a lot of quotations. Don’t worry guys. Everything will be fine. You will be fine. I’m sure you all will have lot of fun during production. What I can say is don’t only go there to make films. Go there to make friends and to have fun. That is the most important thing. If you have fun making your film, you will make a good film because you enjoy making it and you will give your fullest, which you will be very passionate when making the film. Other than that, be the one who link with the other South East Asian members. Don’t be shy, always be confident. When you’re there and have any questions to ask, just raise your hand and ask them. Be presentable and make sure everyone notice about you there. If you aim to go to Asia Film Academy or other scholarship, make sure you need to be always presentable, passionate and energetic. Confidence is the most important. Like I said, online pre-production is very important for you to understand your members. So, when you’re doing it, make sure you’re always there and participate in the video call. Other than talking about films, talk about yourself and get them to talk about themselves.  And from there, you will understand each other, be comfortable with each other and be close with one another before you all meet. Have fun and enjoy each moment you will go through in the FLY program. 

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I hope it's not too late. Congratulations for received the scholarship to AFA! So, how are you feeling when you know you're selected to AFA?

Thank you so much! I felt so happy. Because my dream came true and I’m going to Korea! I was so happy at that time when my name was announced. Sometimes I felt very proud of myself. Finally, I can make my dream come true. I really wanted to go to Korea for so long. Korea is very great country that produce a lot of filmmaker and I want to experience making a film in Korea. As a selected participant for Asia Film Academy, and getting the scholarship from that, I’m very excited about it and mostly very happy when my name was announced. I can’t wait to go to Korea and attend the Busan Film Festival and also can’t wait to meet my new team members. I’m not sure who I will face as my team member and I’m not sure if it will be as fun as FLY. The FLY coordinator also said that I might be the youngest but I not sure about it. I’ll bring the experience from FLY to Asia Film Academy and try be the participant that will link other members. We will enjoy the moments in making film in Busan and not too serious in making film. I hope we will be close with one another and understand each other.

Last one, can share us more your preparation before heading to AFA?

So far, we just submit my script because each AFA participants need to send our own script and it will be choose by the mentors of AFA. 2 best scripts will be chosen to be made into a film. The coordinator will split us into groups and give us the chosen script. So far, we have been through 3 weeks of online pre-production, where we need to develop the script before we go to AFA this 5th October. So there is not much preparation until now as I do not know who my team members are.  For me, not much preparation was done as I’m waiting for the online pre-production process and I’m excited for it. I can’t wait to go to Busan to make film. For my script, when I develop it, it was in BM as I did it long time ago. I submit it late as I need time to translate. My story is about a filmmaker’s journey. When I was writing that script, I was thinking what kind of story I can make as a film in Busan, which is able to reflect the culture and the people. Busan is the city of film in Asia. I also want a story that is close to myself. I’m thinking of making a filmmakers journey about Gang Mada (“Gang” means river and “Mada” means sea), when I researched on Busan there was an article that said Busan is all about sea, river, mountain and city. So, I try to get three natural elements: sea, mountain and river as my location to reflect the journey of the filmmaker. This is the story of how the filmmaker who finally found his film that he really wanted to make after he reached his middle age (48). He finally understands film and what kind of film he really wanted to do. I’m not sure if my script will be selected because it’s just the first draft and many things can be corrected. 3 weeks before submission, the AFA coordinator contacted me for an interview and ask what kind of role I want to bring. At first they wanted me to join the directing team, but I rejected it because I wanted to do producing again. They asked why I don’t want to be a director, and I told them that I want to direct a story that take place in Sabah and I’m not confident enough to direct a story that comes from other country. I chose producing because I want to know how Asian core production work together. I know that there will be hard challenges but I’m willing to face it. I want to be the one who links everyone to make a good film and make a good team by being a good producer.