Behind-the-scenes of "CEO" | News & Features | Cinema Online

Behind-the-scenes of "CEO"

Writer: Elaine Ewe

Director Razaisyam Rashid (middle, front) discussing with his crew about setting up the shot.

The director

It is 21 June 2013, and as I walk into the bungalow that is to be the filming set for director Razaisyam Rashid's maiden feature film debut, "CEO", I see men carrying bits and pieces of furniture, ladders and toolboxes. "Sorry, we've had a late night, so we started preparing for filming late today," said Razaisyam in response to my query, who is dressed simply, his head is bound with a scarf. It makes him look less like a director who has got a handle on things and more like hired help, and one wonders if he has crumbled under the pressure of his job in his 6th day of filming since he started on 15 June.

A chat with Razaisyam dispels any such notions. The director is evidently very much in control of the situation, for when asked why he had chosen this particular bungalow as his filming location, Razaisyam explains that it was so he could have full control over his set designs.

"This place is actually loaned to us by a friend of Matt's. Since the house is new and not inhabited by anyone, we have more freedom and control over how we want the CEO's office to look like. We also have another bungalow set up in Kuala Lumpur so that we don't have to commute too far in case we are filming somewhere further than here. I feel that it is important to be able to have the option of customising as I have a vision for my film, I want everything that the audience see to be a product of my planning, not because we 'just happened' to be lucky or something is 'just there' to fill in the space."

Ahmad "Matt" Yussof, the line producer from ARAfilm.

Matt is actually Ahmad Yussof, the line producer from ARAfilm who has been devotedly following the production process since day one. He laughingly tells me that he is always the first to arrive on location and also the last one to leave. This is because "CEO" is not only Razaisyam's first feature film debut as a director; it is also ARAfilm's first feature film debut as a production company, thus, they are eager to ensure that production runs as smoothly as possible.

The capable production crew.

The production company

ARAfilm Sdn Bhd came about when political analyser Abdul Razak Baginda decided to venture into the film industry after having dabbled in real estate in order to fulfil a lifelong dream about producing a film. However, this move caused the public to speculate that "CEO" is a politically-charged film, as the idea for the "quirky comedy" film sparked from Abdul Razak himself, who is best known for being involved in the tragedy of Altantuya Shaariibuu, a Mongolian woman.

Razaisyam has already refuted such claims earlier, and urged the public to see beyond Abdul Razak's status as a political analyser. "Not necessarily that people involved in politics will create a film about politics. Like Razak, his company is only interested in coming up with a film," he says.

In addition, Razaisyam reveals that, aside from writing the script and directing, he is also in charge of editing his film's footage because he believes that it is imprudent to hire someone else as an editor when he can just do it himself. In fact, he has already edited some footage from their day one's shoot and he shows me the two-minute quick edit on his iPhone. Judging by the clip, "CEO" is definitely a film to look out for next year.

The cast of "CEO" are running through their scripts for the day.

The story and cast

The film tells the story of two men: a successful Chief Executive Officer (CEO) named Adam played by Remy Ishak and a pizza boy named Sufian played by Beto Kusyairy. The two end up switching lives when an accident occurs, leaving Adam penniless and Sufian richer than God. Of course, Adam is determined to discover the person behind the accident and get his life back, so he enlists the help of the reluctant Sufian, who is not about to look a gift horse in the mouth. Nevertheless, whether the two like it or not, they are about to find out that there are darker plans in store for them.

Before, Razaisyam reveals that his cast were chosen before he even conceived of the script. He wanted Beto Kusyairy as he had seen the actor before in "Hujan Panas", Cristina Suzanne as she starred in his indie film, "My Indie Rock Darling", and Remy Ishak because of his talent and charisma. Meanwhile, the film's supporting cast is made up of his favourite actress, Deanna Yusoff, the famed Dato' Jalaluddin Hassan and the fairly new Mustaqim bin Mohamed Zaki. So far, it seems that his choices are justified.

Dato' Jalaluddin Hassan reads the morning paper as he waits for shooting to begin.

"Beto Kusyairy is a very focused and dedicated actor. Previously, we had to shoot a scene where he had to stand in the swimming pool and it was freezing. However, he stood in there for five hours without complaining," said Razaisyam.

He adds, "I am so thankful that I have such a dedicated cast and experienced crew. They have made my job so much easier as a rookie director. Not only are they punctual in coming to work, they are also the type of people that, I just have to tell them what I'm aiming for, what I want, and they know how to achieve it."

Setting up the "CEO" office.

The talented makeup and costume crew.

The trivia

As "CEO" is a mainstream film, Razaisyam gets to use Alexa digital cameras, which has also been used for films such as "Life Of Pi" and "Skyfall".

"CEO" is the first of the three films that ARAfilm has signed up to produce. Currently, they are aiming to wrap up shooting for "CEO" by 9 July, so that they could concentrate on less strenuous work during the fasting season and begin production on their second film after Raya.

"CEO" is aiming for a release date in 2014, just so they could work on the quality on their film and generating the right publicity.

Cinema Online, 02 July 2013