By CHRISTINE CHEAH
IF you have watched The Journey, you’d remember the old tree at the Chinese primary school or the scenic vegetable terraces of Cameron Highlands. They were quaint, picture-perfect scenes, but securing these locations for shooting was an arduous task.
Besides the pretty Joanne Yew, we also spoke to two members of The Journey’s crew – Edmond Teoh, 27 and location manager Chu Yew Miin, 29 – who oversaw the entire filming process, to understand better what went behind the scenes.
Teoh was the person who made sure the lights, camera and equipment were transported to the little house on the hillside in Cameron Highlands while Chu’s tasks involved securing the permit to shoot on Penang bridge and making sure the traffic wasn’t in the way.
Sounds easy? Not really, according to these two who have worked with director Chiu Keng Guan before.
“Did you know the director specified that he wanted a Chinese primary school that looked old, had less than 150 students, located in a small town, and had to have a field and a huge tree?” Chu asked. “I had to shortlist 150 schools to find that particular one to fulfil his request.”
To secure the locations, Chu only had a month for recceing. The most difficult, according to her, was getting the approval to shoot on Penang bridge.
“We had to engage Penang’s state tourism exco to obtain the permit, but the real challenge came during the filming. We caused a traffic jam up to Juru in the mainland and our phones were bombarded with calls from the traffic police!” revealed the Malaccan lass, while Teoh nodded in agreement.
Teoh, who also undertook the same role in the first two movies (Woohoo! and Great Day) produced by Chiu, said that the challenges get more difficult every time.
“The director loves challenges and for the previous two movies, there were lesser locations and involved a smaller cast. And he has ‘warned’ us to be prepared for more difficult times in the next production,” said Perak-born Teoh.
Among the difficulties Teoh faced in the production of The Journey was the filming of the journey down from Cameron Highlands.
“Safety of the cast is the most important aspect of my job and it wasn’t easy as the road down is so winding we had to run back and forth to ensure the lorries and buses didn’t run over our crew,” he said of the harrowing conditions.
But despite all the challenges, Teoh added that this production brought out the caring attitude of Malaysians.
“You might have noticed that the house we filmed in Cameron Highlands was not accessible by van. You could either walk or go by four-wheel drive and the locals were kind enough to offer their vehicles to us free of charge!” he said. “They looked fierce at first, but after a while, you’ll realise they are really nice people.”