But once in a while we do come across Starians who have embarked on unconventional careers. Look hard enough and you would find that we have pop stars, actors, novelists, musicians and film-makers amongst us (corrigendum: and clowns *smacks forehead for forgetting*). It made me think: Was there anything about their STAR education which inspired them, against normal expectations, to earn their livelihood in a creative way?
I couldn’t remember anything in school which could really could have provided such inspiration. OK, we had the marching band, but with sounds resembling imitations of strangled animals it could have hardly inspired future musicians. The ‘combo’ (where do they come up with these terms?) might have had a better chance at producing future rock stars but Mr. Ng Hee Sang, the intense band advisor could hardly be described as a creative influence. Kelab Wayang Gambar? Well, if you could count blurring the projector at timely moments as a kind of film editing technique.
It was with this question in mind that I set up a lunch appointment with Zan Azlee (Fivers 1995), an up and coming independent film maker whose latest work, a documentary called “Pandang Ke Timur” was seen recently on NTV7 a few Sundays ago. I first became aware that there existed a Starian film-maker when I noticed his blog being linked on some Starians’ blogs and have quietly followed his projects.
We met at the Dome at Suria KLCC and it was only natural that I turn lunch into a quasi-interview for a blog post. This fitted in with this blog’s mission in making Starians appear more cool than they actually are. I was already familiar with his work as he’s put up quite an extensive CV and his blog really tells it all. So I cut to the chase and asked him about whether there were any influences in STAR that caused him to take up film making.
Zan corrected me by saying that he’s not just a film-maker but also a writer. Film is just another medium to tell his stories (In fact if you pick up SURF! magazine, you would find that it’s full of his articles. I found out that he’s written a book too - A Guide to Effective Internet Use). It’s only recently that he’s becoming known as a film-maker with an edge due to an increased interest in independent documentaries (He was featured in the November 2007 issue of Off The Edge which covered documentary film-making).
So I guess the better question would be: What did he experience in STAR that inspired him to take up journalism (which led him to film-making)? Probably none as it turned out. He went through the same experiences as I did – Set S English class, PPM debates (well that didn't do it for me). He liked writing but he performed his filial obligation by going on to do a degree in accountancy from UiTM (how more uninspiring could that be for a creative career?). However upon graduation he followed his heart and joined the Sun as a journalist and then studied Broadcast Journalism for his Masters Degree in the UK before becoming an independent film-maker and freelance journalist.
I think he could sense that I was disappointed to learn that his experience in STAR was not inspirational in his career decision. “Aku belajar kencing kat STAR,” he suddenly volunteered.
He went on to explain that he joined STAR in Form 4 and it was only in STAR that he learned how to live by his wits to survive (you would too if you want to prevent 5 other hungry mouths from taxing your midnight Maggi mee). When he left STAR, he said that he acquired a high degree of persuasive skills and that carried him through in his career as a journalist and film-maker.
I could see what he meant. I’ve seen his documentaries and what impresses me most is the way he manages to get his interview subjects to be candid and forthcoming on camera. I guess that counts for a lot in a job where interpersonal skill is at a premium. (Check out Zan's other films on Youtube)
From the the interview I conclude that STAR has not done much to nurture the creative talents of our boys. It’s a shame. It would have been the best time to polish those talents. It’s more likely that the entertainers and writers amongst us are doing what they are doing despite having studied in STAR. Perhaps the teachers could look into organising activities which bring out these talents or at least open the students’ eyes to non-mainstream careers.
Perhaps even I could have become a writer or a film-maker in different circumstances. Ah well, I’ve just got to make do with blogs and Youtube for the time being.