Teng Bee makes his debut

Teng Bee makes his debut

"Kepong Gangster" is Teng Bee's feature-length film directorial debut.

After being in the director's chair for local music videos for years, Teng Bee has finally got up to step onto the big screen and open the eyes of moviegoers through his feature film directorial debut, "Kepong Gangster", a local Chinese gangster drama film that he also cameos in. Cinema Online was able to catch Teng Bee and let him tell us his thoughts on making his first film, which has also saw release in Taiwan.

Cinema Online's interview with Teng Bee was conducted on 1 September at The Venue in Pavilion, Kuala Lumpur.

Q: What does "Kepong Gangster" mean to you?
Teng: I view it as the beginning of my dreams in the local movie industry.

Q: Why did you choose to cast Melvin Sia and Henley Hii as the leads in the movie?
Teng: It was not easy for us to cast the right actors and actresses, especially when it comes to choosing male actors in Malaysia. We encountered many difficulties in choosing the male lead. Coincidentally, we are working with Halo Music and they recommended us their artiste Melvin. By looking at his image and acting skills, we knew that he is definitely able to handle the character Ah Hai. Then, we needed to find someone who can deal with Melvin's experienced skills as well as have chemistry between them. Henley came to our minds. He has a very fit figure with a very plain image that suits the criteria of the character Ah Zhong.

Q: Which is the most difficult scene you had ever shot for the film?
Teng: I would say the rain scenes. We asked the fire brigade to give us a hand. We combined a few rain scenes that we needed and we shot from midnight till the next morning. Unfortunately, the local firemen had less experience in creating rain for film compared to those in Hong Kong and Taiwan. They didn't know how to properly control the water volumes for a rain scene so that took us a long time to finish our shooting.

Q: What is the most unforgettable scene in the movie then?
Teng: For me, it would be the scene where Billy [Billy Ng] attempts to kill Ah Hai [Melvin Sia]. Before we started shooting, I was a little worried about Billy's performance because he was so new, so he had to find a way to stand out from the Golden Award winner Melvin. However, he surprised me and the whole team with his gutsy acting style and it needed just one take. I will never forget that.

The "Five Tigers" of Teng Bee's "Kepong Gangster".

Q: You made a cameo appearance in the beginning of the story. Is that a spontaneous decision or something that you had already planned earlier?
Teng: I was not supposed to appear in it. We were trying to create a scene that conveyed a message on how challenging it is for the Malaysian filmmakers to produce a local piece. I wanted to invite a notable director to appear and Ah Niu was my candidate. Too bad he was very busy with his new film, "The Golden Couple", so I had to step up and take over the role.

Q: It seems like you are willing to take risks since you used newcomers to play the supporting cast. Tell us about it.
Teng: All the newcomers surprised me like Billy. They did not have much skill, but everything comes so naturally to them and that was what I wanted them to portray in their respective roles.

Q: Instead of saying that the cast have learnt a lot under your guidance in the movie, have you learnt anything from directing the cast and crew during the filming "Kepong Gangster"?
Teng: Yes, I reinvented myself after collaborating with all of them. The way we interacted with each other made me realize the importance of communication with your actors, partners, producers, and so on. It is very normal to see arguments occurring among us, but in the process I learnt to find a way out and use the best solution to solve the problems. My team and I have reached another level of maturity after "Kepong Gangster".

Q: How would you rate your directorial effort for your first movie?
Teng: I'll let the audience judge me. But personally I'll give myself 70 points out of 100. There is still room for improvement for me.

Q: Any upcoming projects?
Teng: I do. I'm writing a new script for a romance film. I love to illustrate themes of relationships, friendship and humanity in my productions.

Q: Thank you for the interview, Teng Bee. Best of luck to you!
Teng: Thank you very much, Cinema Online.

Related Movies:
Kepong Gangster (Mandarin) (13 Sep 2012)

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