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  • Writer's pictureAmran Rahmat

The Making of a One-Take Merdeka Ad: Capturing a CAMPUR2 Malaysia

Bringing CAMPUR² to life

nasi lemak with everything added

Malaysia is a melting pot of various cultures and backgrounds, full of individuality in our multicultural community. So when the folks from Taylor’s University approached us to do their Merdeka & Malaysia Day ad, CAMPUR² (Mixed together), that would show how different yet similar we are as a people, we were psyched to take a crack at it. The idea was simple; film various types of people standing in line to buy Nasi Lemak, but do it all in one-take. We’re not Christopher Nolan but a one-taker involving multiple people to coordinate and direct seems super exciting! Here is how we approached bringing this idea to fruition.

The Project

This wasn’t our first time executing a one-taker, we got to do it before for these two amazing projects, e.g. Dato’ Sri Siti Nurhaliza’s Music Video for ‘Kuasa Cintamu’ and Dayang Nurfaizah’s collection of performance videos for her recent album Belagu - making us very aware of the trials and tribulations in pulling it off. We just needed to add our own spin to it - so our Director, Adriana Tunku, figured that shooting a straightforward queue line would be boring and predictable so she came up with the idea to weave the camera through the line, keeping it dynamic and emulating the POV of a person. The caveat though, we needed a location that was both practical and visually dynamic, but also visually Malaysian. After much searching all around KL and Selangor, we finally found the perfect place.

Though luck shined on us with the location, we still had other challenges to tackle. Mainly, in capturing the essence of a true melting pot through authentic dialogue, ensuring proper representation of Malaysia. We did this by first writing a baseline of each individual’s race and backstory, giving context to each person’s situation, what they plan on ordering, their age group and who they'd appeal to. Then, we talked to the actors and extras, and adjusted their lines to make sure it sounded as natural as possible; as close to their own individual voices so that it would feel like words they would actually say, and not lines from a script. We went through this as many times as possible, often adjusting after takes if the talent themselves felt they could perform it in a more natural and authentic way.

The Set

Since we have done one-takers before, our approach is simple but tried and tested. First, we plan everything from A to Z, the camera movements, the timing for when each person would speak; in fact we shot the full video as a previs (pre-visualisation) to see if the concept worked first. Then as soon as we got on set, we rehearsed with the DOP (Director of Photography), getting the camera movements locked in before we brought in the talents and adjusted accordingly. Then we’d rehearse, and rehearse, and rehearse, leaving no stones unturned as we tried to keep any potential flaws to a minimum. And when all is said and done, the camera can finally start rolling.

Unfortunately, as ideal as it would be to capture everything we want in a single take, not everything will go as planned. Especially when you live in a tropical country that rains quite often. Despite hoping for sunny skies, our shoot day wasn’t an exception, and it rained. Heavily. It even came to a point where we came up with an alternate idea that was completely different to the original one-taker. So we kept on waiting for clearer skies and rehearsing, and you’d expect with such gloomy weather that everyone’s energy and motivation would start dwindling, but no. What happened instead was nothing short of wonderful - everyone started pitching in but in their own way. Whether it was cracking jokes to lighten the mood, suggesting ideas, or even just sharing snacks. Regardless of their reasons to keep going, the Malaysian melting pot was boiling hot front and centre, even behind the cameras - all with the intention of turning this vision into reality.

We had initially set out to film something that FELT Malaysian but ended up capturing something genuine. The mood on set is directly translated into the film, their smiles were truly their own and it shows in the final film.

Big thanks to Philip and his team from Taylor’s, we loved working with everyone and look forward to more projects together in the near future. Click here to watch the CAMPUR² video and we hope that you’ll enjoy this labour of love!

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