By CHRISTINE CHEAH
THE thriller is a popular genre among movie-goers. But while full-length feature films offer plenty of time for directors to pull their twists and turns on the audience, local filmmaker Dick Chua has proved himself adept at doing the same – but with short films.
“I like making thrillers, even though they’re a difficult genre to produce, especially as short films,” said Chua during an interview with R.AGE.
After winning the 2012 BMW Shorties grand prize with Murdered, Chua, 30, is now following up with another short-form thriller, Pizza, which he hopes will make some headway on the international scene.
Pizza was produced with his winnings from the competition, and it’s based on the true story of a kidnapping.
“Pizza is more emotional, and it was harder to put the emotions into it. With Murdered, the challenge was the script writing and dialogue,” said Chua, referring to Murdered’s complex plot structure.
His latest offering is a more straightforward and emotional affair, focusing on a father’s anguish after he loses his son to a kidnapper. Pizza has been submitted by BMW Shorties for a host of international film festivals, in hopes of showcasing Chua’s talent to a wider audience.
If successful, Chua will join a list of past BMW Shorties winners who have had their work screened at international film festivals, including the New York International Film Festival, Cannes International Film Festival and the Oberhausen International Short Film Festival.
Chua had actually started out in the industry hoping to be a 3D animator, but he eventually found his calling in film, and graduated with an advanced diploma in filmmaking from the Vancouver Film School in Canada.
His film career started with wedding videos, which he produced under his company, D1 Production. “I didn’t want to have to work my way up from a first assistant to become director, so I chose to start my own company.”
It proved to be the right choice, as he quickly built a reputation with his directorial work, eventually moving on to corporate viral videos and, of course, short films.
These days, Chua spends most of his time producing cultural documentaries for Petronas, amidst a constant stream of project offers. “I enjoy making documentaries because they’re more ‘valuable’ to the public. They will live on even after I die.”
The game is slow changing, though, especially with YouTube and social media, said Chua.
Attention spans are getting shorter, making it all the more important for filmmakers to captivate their audiences within the first few minutes, and Chua said that has created unreal expectations of filmmakers among investors.
“Investors prefer to invest in people who are popular, even though only half of them really know what filmmaking is about,” he said.
One person Chua does look up to is writer and director Dain Said, whose films include Bunohan, which won eight awards at the 25th Malaysian Film Festival last year.
“Dain makes films not only for commercial purposes – he also tells inspiring stories,” said Chua.