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A "Seefood" dream

Writer: Peter Chai

In the past, moviegoers have been amazed by the emergence of 3D animation with Pixar's "Toy Story" in the '90s. As more technological advances are made available, Hollywood's movie industry expanded from "Toy Story" to include better animated films such as "The Incredibles", "Finding Nemo" and "The Polar Express". It became a trend now to animate movies within a 3D environment or made with motion-capture performances or stop motion clay animation as opposed to traditional hand-drawn animation. And Malaysia has recently joined the fray by having their very first international English 3D animated movie, titled "Seefood". Recently, we have had the chance to sit down for a conversation with Goh Aun Hee, the director and founder of Silver Ant Sdn. Bhd., and Ahmad Izham Omar, the CEO of Primeworks Studios Sdn.Bhd, both of which have contributed towards bringing "Seefood" to the silver screens.

Cinema Online had an interview with Goh Aun Hee and Ahmad Izham Omar at e@Curve, Mutiara Damansara, Malaysia.

Q: Mr.Goh, how long did you take to plan and shoot the movie?
Goh:
Hmm, let me turn back the clock a little bit. We actually had a story with the same title named "Seefood" about 10 years ago. All we needed to do was expand on it. So we did some research along those lines and looked for people to invest in the film. In terms of production, from the day we started until we finished the product, we took two years and three months.

Q: What were the challenges you faced during the movie's production?
Goh:
The biggest challenge for us would be how to set a benchmark for the standard and quality of this animation in the industry. I mean, every studio always want to do something like what the international players are doing. We have limited resources and animators, so to set a benchmark, it is not easy and that is the main concern in making this movie.

Q: What is the reason do you think that "Seefood" can achieve great success overseas?
Goh:
Based on the feedback given by foreign filmmakers and distributors, the movie's storyline touched them. This was because we tried to raise awareness on the injustice of sea pollution and shark killing. Characters are very important in breaking into the international market. There must be a reason why we created such a character. International buyers are looking for these aspects and "Seefood" succeeded because we had those.

Q: How many animators did you need to produce the movie?
Goh:
In our own studio, we had 35 animators to complete this movie. We took years to train these talents. We hope we can gain 10 or more animators in the future.

Q: Why did Grand Brilliance decide to distribute "Seefood" in Malaysia?
Ahmad Izham:
We first got the deal about a year ago. After we found out its release in over 90 countries, we knew we made the right choice. Yes, we care about its box office results, but more importantly, we hope the movie is able to inspire more Malaysian animators to join Malaysia's industry, thus helping to raise the quality of local animation to another level.

Q: In your opinion, what kind of response the audience will give after watching the movie?
Ahmad Izham:
I think the first thing people would shout is "Malaysia Boleh!". The second thing is they will realize that we have the capacity to improve, and bigger ideas, bigger partners, and bigger business models will come to invest in more of our animated films.

Q: What so special about "Seefood" and what are your hopes for the local release of the movie?
Goh: "Seefood" is the result of the hard work put in by our own local animators. It's made in Malaysia. We really hope we can raise our work to a more competent level in the animation field. We really hope that our local audiences like it, because it'll help us gain more confidence in our work.
Ahmad Izham: We have high expectations for the movie as this is the first English 3D animation in Malaysia. We have many funny characters and we inserted Malaysia's East Coast culture in many scenes. I believe these could attract people to watch it as it hits close to home. Make sure you come to watch it on 8 March!

Q: Thank you for your time.
Goh: No problem.
Ahmad Izham:
It was nice to meet you.

Cinema Online, 01 March 2012

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