Youth-led Canteen Productions consisting of five young adults, Ryan Tan, Louisa Liew, Ng Kai Yin, Tan Lee Lee, and Tee Yeou Ern are paving the way forward by raising social awareness through their latest labour of love, “A Helping Paw”, a light-hearted short film on animal-assisted therapy. The short film even won the Audience Choice Award in the Short+Sweet Malaysia 2019 festival organised recently by the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (KL PAC).
The short film which was a hit with the audience focused on Salehin Ibrahim, the primary coordinator for Dr. Dog, an animal-assisted therapy programme.
We caught up with the production crew of Canteen Productions during the recent award presentation ceremony for an exclusive interview for Good News Malaysia.
Here are some of the highlights of the interview.
1. How does it feel winning the Audience Choice award?
Ryan: It feels surreal because none of us thought we will win. But we are glad that we won this year. It also feels more special because it’s an audience choice award. It was the only award not chosen by the judges. That means the people who voted for it personally resonated with the film.
Kai Yin: Yeah like Ryan said. I think when we submitted the video, we didn’t expect to win anything. We were just trying to get more exposure and experience at a film festival. We consider ourselves lucky even if anyone remembers our production. Hence, it was exciting to win this award.
2. Tell us about the process of making the film. What inspired the concept for “A Helping Paw”?
Ryan: I think it was a little bit difficult during initial phase of coming up with ideas for the film. We were bouncing off a few ideas. But ultimately we wanted to do something meaningful. Something that was more lasting. Something that we could leave with people. And we all wanted to do something with animals. So, we decided to be a bit more adventurous which led us to this organisation (Dr. Dog Malaysia). I think people can relate to the film because there is a little bit of everything. There is a bit of therapy, human emotions and psychology.
3. What was the most challenging aspect of making the film?
Kai Yin: I think it was the distance. Filming was done over the weekend. Lucky all of us could commit to it. It was just the distance. It was so far that we didn’t want to come back and forth. We stayed overnight to shoot the documentary.
Louisa: Yeah it was very far. We actually stayed overnight at the farm itself. We volunteered on the first day. On the second day, we filmed the orphanage home scene.
4. What’s next? Can we expect more films from Canteen Productions?
Louisa: Good question. You can definitely expect more movies from us. However, we are currently focusing on producing more short films.
Ryan: (Laughs). Yeah but we are also looking to branch out. Since the majority of our projects are our university assignments, we intend to make more “passion projects.” Like for instance, our second film “Before Dawn”. It wasn’t an assignment. Hence, the boundaries were limitless. We didn’t have to report to anyone. We were not limited to any ideas. Thus, you can expect to see more of that!
View another heartwarming film by Canteen Productions, “LoveMYPalmOil90” on the difficult living standards of farmers, here.
5. What’s your advice to young and aspiring filmmakers?
Louisa: The sky is the limit, honestly. You should never be afraid to try. Continue pushing your ideas. However, you should also be open to feedback. While it’s great to have an original idea, you might be biased towards it. Hence, I think a second opinion is always great.
Ryan: I think for me, I would say don’t be afraid of failing. To be honest, not everything we have done is perfect. It’s a journey and it’s a blessing that we have come this far. However, we are aware that failure is part and parcel of this journey.
Kai Yin: I think commitment is crucial in the process of filmmaking. If not for it, our short film, “A Helping Paw” would have not been produced. So, I think it’s crucial to focus and to be fully committed. However, I think this mindset applies in any industry.
We wish them the best of luck for their future projects!
*Featured image sourced from Facebook/Canteen Productions