"Adiwiraku" has become the talk of town since its debut on the silver screen as the story is based on the real life event which took place in 2015.
Directed by Eric Ong, the film follows the journey of an English language teacher Cheryl Ann Fernando who forms a choral speaking team and prepares them for the district level competition.
However, the journey is not an easy one as most of the students come from poverty-stricken families, and almost all of them are unable to read or write in English.
Nevertheless, the teacher does not give up and continues to ensure that each of her students achieve greatness.
Recently during the press preview of "Adiwiraku" which took place at mmCineplexes, eCurve, Cinema Online was there to interview director Eric Ong to get further details regarding the film and the experience behind it.
Cinema Online: Where did you first get the idea to make this film?
Eric : Initially, I didn't intend to make it into feature-length film, I thought of just making a short, but when producer Jason Chong and I were searching for materials, he found this story on the internet and showed it to me. I was immediately inspired by it and decided to make a film out of it.
So Jason and our scriptwriter arranged a meeting with the real teacher from the story, Cheryl, and tried to get more precise details regarding the story. They also interviewed several students to know their side of the story. And from there, the script was formed.
How long does it take for the script to complete?
Not very long, it took less than two months. That's because the base of the story is already there. We only need some other minor details that are not highlighted before, which took only a while for us to finish it.
How about the casting choice?
For the English language teacher, I choose actress Sangeeta Krishnasamy who is recommended by my friend. After looking through her past work, I believe that she can definitely take on the role. For the students, 90 per cent of them are the real-life students from the story.
Since you're using real students, aren't you worried that they are unable to perform well as this is their first time acting?
It is not as hard as you think. Yes, it's true that they're nervous and scared when facing the camera for the first time, but with plenty of training, they started to get more and more comfortable on set, and they showcased a strong commitment for each and every scene. They also didn't complain when the shooting took a longer time than expected, and they used their free time for practice so that they won't have to redo the same scene over and over again. I am very satisfied by the commitments they gave towards this film.
Does it worries you that the film would not appeal to many as you didn't use famous stars?
I'm not worried at all as I believe that the film has its own appeal. The film is not only an entertainment, but it also a product that is able to inspire viewers and it is relatable to many people. Furthermore, the film will be shown during the school holidays season, so I think that it will do quite well especially among students.
What was the cost to make this film, and how long was the shooting process?
The filming took more than a month and we're grateful that it went on smoothly without any problems. I cannot give you an exact amount for the cost, but we created this film with sincerity. Some of the producers and I did not even take any of the budgeted amount – we only claimed for the petrol cost. I think now, we have spent around RM600 thousand, so we expect that it would exceed RM1 million with the upcoming promotions.
Do you plan on taking this film to international film festivals?
Yes, of course. In fact, this film is already qualified for the semi-finals in the Equality International Film Festival, and is also one of the finalists in the Phoenix Film Festival Melbourne 2017. We hope that it can participate in more international film festivals this year.