In a special one-on-one chat with director Lai Yuk Long, the director for the soon-to-be-released revolutionary action film "Dampak" starring Aaron Aziz and Scha Al-Yahya talks with Cinema Online about the importance of teamwork, working with Malaysian actors and his directing vision.
Cinema Online's interview with Lai Yuk Long was conducted on 4 July at Petaling Utama Avenue, Kuala Lumpur.
Who came up with the story for "Dampak"?
The story was made by a lot of people. It was even tweaked as we filmed it from the crew and cast members' input! It was a collaboration of talents, and I believe in teamwork even when I direct. I take consideration of other people's opinions and we all 'gel' together as one big family to create this film.
What attracted you to work with Aaron Aziz?
I admit that I wanted my film to appeal to a mass audience in Malaysia, and we know that Aaron has a massive fan base here. We also wanted Farid Kamil, Juliana Evans, Intan Ladyana and Scha Al-Yahya to be a part of the film because they do appeal to a wide amount of people.
How did you know that the actors you hired had chemistry with each other, for example, Scha and Aaron?
We just believed in their abilities as actors to work with each other, and our abilities as a film crew to create that chemistry. We all listened and communicated with each other and that's what differentiates us with other film crews.
Isn't it a risk to cast the actors without making sure they all had chemistry first?
Not really. All the actors worked rather well with each other.
Can you describe your filmmaking style to us?
There is no specific filming style. I knew that as I worked with the people around me using their comments and opinions, it would turn out right.
I saw the trailer and the cinematography should be commended. However, the film seems more violent than other Malaysian action films. Do you think Malaysians will be ready for something like this?
Thank you! But I don't think this film is particularly violent. It's not too violent, at least. I do like to think that I had romanticized the film and the actions sequences, and I had turned "Dampak" into more than a regular action film in Malaysia. It will have depth and story in every kick and punch. It won't be a film with mindless action.
The trailer also had the same kind of feeling as films by Nicolas Winding Refn. He directed films like "Drive" and "Only God Forgives".
Really? I haven't seen his films.
How much of the stunts were done by the actors themselves?
Well, actually, everyone did their own stunts. And the only scene we needed a stunt double for was for Farid Kamil when he had a leg injury and he had to do a walking scene. So the stunt double wasn't even for doing anything drastic, it was just for walking!
We also loved how you got Juliana Evans and Intan Ladyana in on the fighting sequences. Have you thought about how it will affect the mindset of Malaysian women? Women are going to watch this and feel a little bit empowered at least since there aren't so many women fighters in film.
I haven't thought about it that way! Personally, I don't have any problem with both men and women fighting. It's normal to me! Plus, women are the strongest fighters by far! My wife is a fighter with what she does at home. She is a very strong woman.
Thank you so much for talking to us at Cinema Online!
You're welcome! Thank you!