Shaiful Reezal, founder of Echo Entertainments, is a director of photography turned filmmaker who focuses mainly on films with causes. As seen in his latest short film, Kakak Ampai, he works on films that reflect true societal issues within his community. Kakak Ampai tells the story of a girl who joins the narcotics branch of the police department in Singapore and faces gender discrimination from everyone around her, including her friends. He talks to us about shooting his action film, and about sexism and drugs in Singapore.
Why He Chose To Address Drugs and Gender Discrimination
“We mashed two messages into this film; the prejudice women face in society and how drugs can affect themselves as well as people around them.”
Drugs is a topic Shaiful has always had a passion for, as seen in two of his previous short films. According to him, the percentage of drug abusers in the Malay community turns out to be the highest in terms of national statistics. “I want to do my part [in helping] through my short films.”
“As for sexism, in society and especially the Malay community, women are expected to stay in the kitchen, be ladylike and play a supporting role to men.”
A mentality he feels, in today’s world, needs to be gotten rid of.
Shooting A Chasing Scene Is Not Easy
The most challenging scene to shoot was the scene of Shikin chasing the villain, Roslan Ali, down an alleyway. “We had to set dress the whole alley and waiting for the right time to shoot.”
Doing a running scene also meant it required quite some running out of everyone other than the cast, like the Director of Photography (DOP), the crew and Shaiful himself. The entire scene was shot using a handheld camera as the DOP, Shahreen Tajri, wanted it to look as raw as possible.
“A Steadicam or dolly would give us a super steady shot. With a handheld, it brings the audience closer to the scene. Some shakiness makes the shot more dynamic.”
Ready, Set, Fight Like You Mean It!
To get a convincing action scene, the action and the props had to be convincing. The police props seen in the film were all secured by their Art Director who has had a lot of experience doing police and action series. The action scenes, on the other hand, were fully choreographed by both Shaiful and the DOP.
They had to make a few trips to the locations with the Art Director to practice with the props in place. “We did multiple rehearsals to make sure we only had to perform the full choreography a few times for the shoot.”