Following from the first Suara Workshop of 2015 on creative approaches to film storytelling, this workshop aimed to strengthen practical location shooting skills in terms of camerawork, sound recording, and overall coordination amongst a film crew.
Our second Suara Community Filmmaking workshop of 2015 was held successfully from the 20th to the 24th of May in the town of Semporna, located on Sabah’s south eastern coast. This location was chosen as it is home to our Suara filmmaking teams from Green Semporna and the Pulau Omadal Women’s Association (WAPO) – both of whom acted as hosts during the workshop – and in order to bring our participants to a location which most of them had never previously visited, to broaden their experiences and understanding of the indigenous peoples of their State.
Following from the first Suara Workshop of 2015 on creative approaches to film storytelling, this workshop aimed to strengthen practical location shooting skills in terms of camerawork, sound recording, and overall coordination amongst a film crew. It was also envisaged that participants would learn how to plan location shoots and engage with interview subjects more effectively.
The workshop was attended by 31 participants from communities across Sabah..
To form a training team capable of fulfilling these objectives comprehensively, we invited returning trainer Seok Wun Au Yong (director), along with new Suara trainers Syukrie Hassan (cameraman) and Helmi “Jimy” Hamren (soundman).
The workshop programme was developed jointly by the team of trainers together with Suara organiser Adam Murphy. Workshop attendees travelled by boat, bus and plane from all across Sabah on May 20th, converging on the workshop venue of Arung Hayat resort in Semporna by around 6pm.
After settling in to the luxurious accommodation and enjoying an evening meal, everybody was welcomed to Semporna by the host filmmaking team Green Semporna, and delivered a talk about their activities and gave some general advice on what participants could expect from the area. Once the welcoming and introductions had concluded, Adam Murphy gave a brief overview of the upcoming workshop programme, and participants and trainers retired to get some rest ahead of the arduous few days to come.
The workshop proper began on May 21st, with a series of conceptual and practical sessions held at Arung Hayat. Jimy and Syukrie showed some of their previous documentary work, pausing frequently to explain how they had set up their audio-visual equipment to meet the different requirements of each shot. Jimy went on to give a practical demonstration of the proper usage of audio gear, asking each participant to test his boom and zoom microphones to hear for themselves the differences in directional sound capture and recording quality. Syukrie followed up by giving an overview of his camera gear, and discussing various approaches to dealing with lighting in different situations. Seok then completed the theoretical sessions by screening some of her own shorts, and discussing the importance of shot/angle selection and of capturing sufficient b-roll whilst on shoot.
After lunch, Jimy explained how professional sound men synch and log the many sound files which they record on shoot, so that they are always easy to cross-reference with the associated footage. The trainers then took the participants out into the surrounding streets for two practical exercises; firstly recording clear sound at a busy bus stop, and secondly demonstrating the art of the “walk and shoot” – how to record steady video and clear sound whilst interviewing a subject who is moving. Back at Arung Hayat, Seok gave a talk on the roles and responsibilities of different members of a film crew, and the participants began organising themselves into six teams in preparation for the visit to Pulau Omadal the following day. Ahead of the workshop, members of the local women’s organisation and Suara team WAPO had sketched out a number of potential film topics concerning Omadal, including the island’s cultural uniqueness (reflected through its gravesites), a local museum, the Bajau Laut people of the island, and the history of WAPO itself. The participant teams each chose the topic which most interested them, and began discussing how their stories could unfold.
After returning to Arung Hayat for lunch, the participants downloaded their video and sound files, and organised them on their computers as per instructions from the trainers. Each team’s designated editor then spent the remainder of the afternoon putting their rough cuts together under the guidance of Seok, whilst Jimy and Syukrie took the remaining participants out on another practical exercise around Semporna town. In the evening, Jimy and Syukrie’s students reunited with their editors and supported them in their efforts – which extended late into the night.
May 24th saw the sun rise on the final morning of the workshop, the majority of participants having slept little if at all since it rose the previous day. Their spirits remained high however as they took turns to introduce and screen the fruits of their labours in Bangau-Bangau. The trainers commented on various aspects of their final products, before Jimy and Syukrie closed out the workshop with further behind-the-scenes expositions on some of their previous work. After lunch, our tired but eternally effervescent participants once more boarded their boats, buses and planes to return to their villages with a host of new knowledge and filmmaking experience.
In sum, this workshop represented yet another invaluable stepping stone for our participants to become accomplished community filmmakers, and another success story in Suara’s vision to bring together a diversity of Malaysian film industry professionals to enable Sabah’s indigenous peoples to tell their stories through film.1 comment