JinnyboyTV Tells Us How They Finally Realised Their Dream Of Making Their First Movie
This Malaysia Day marks a major milestone for popular YouTube channel JinnyboyTV, as they will be releasing their first ever full-length movie in cinemas nationwide
Written and directed by Reuben Kang, the movie - titled 'By MY Side' - follows post-SPM student Faye as she navigates through life and the challenges of a long distance relationship after finding out that her first love, Ben is planning to leave the country and study overseas.
The movie stars Marianne Tan and Brandon Ho in the leading roles as Faye and Ben respectively. The movie also features an all-Malaysian supporting cast made up of local personalities like Nadia Nash, Josephine Yap, Adam Shamil, Arwind Kumar, Maggy Wang, and Mark O'Dea.
We even had the opportunity to visit one of their sets when they were filming a pivotal scene at the wonderfully made-up Glasshouse at Seputeh
As you'd probably guess by now, you're looking at the cast and crew hard at work for the wedding scene where audiences would find out if Faye and Ben's relationship survived 'til the end.
In between takes, we caught up with JinnyboyTV's Jin Lim and Reuben as well as Marianne and Brandon for some inside scoop on the movie:
1. It was a dream come true for Jin and Reuben to finally have an opportunity to produce a full-length movie
"It has always been at the back of our heads, like 'Let's make a movie one day'. So when tonton came to us and said, 'Hey, wanna do a movie?', it was a dream come true!" Reuben said.
"We knew that we can do it, but we weren't extremely confident either, because it's not easy to make a movie. You need a lot of manpower, a lot of time, and a lot of money. But we wanted to give it a try lah. If we don't start now, if we don't push ourselves, we don't push the industry as well. So this is for all the people who've been watching and following us for the past five years, to see how far we've come from just a small camera with a monopod 'til today."
2. When tonton first approached them for a collaboration, the initial idea was just to make several 20-minute shorts for a mini series
In the course of discussion, tonton suggested longer 30 to 40-minute videos, ultimately deciding to go all out and pitched a full-length film to Jin and Reuben.
"I'm very glad that people like tonton believe in small-time YouTubers, that we can cope with such a scale. This whole experience has given us a lot of confidence and it's quite nice to see that we've come this far," Reuben said.
"And they gave us full creative control, so that's the best part," Jin added.
3. Jin and Reuben didn't want to just make a "typical movie", so they started developing the script by watching their most popular videos to figure out what Malaysians want to see in a movie
"We wanted to keep it real to the JinnyboyTV style, but at the same time, we didn't want to make just another silly video that you can watch on YouTube. We wanted to do something more meaningful, something important to Malaysians," Reuben explained.
So Jin and Reuben combed through all of their videos that were a hit amongst their audiences to figure out what they like and enjoy, then incorporated those elements into the script.
"It's very relatable, and any individual can see themselves or their friends in this movie," Jin remarked.
4. Marianne revealed that she could deeply relate to what her character Faye experienced in her long distance relationship with Ben, as she too went through the same thing at that age
"I've been through that, experiencing what it's like to slowly start feeling ignored, to feel like you're fading out of that other person's life, and being phased out. It did culminate to a point where we actually went through some intense fights as a couple, and that kinda flashed back some memories for me and brought another level of emotion in there," Marianne said.
On that note, Marianne hopes that her character's story will inspire young women at that age to learn to love themselves.
"It's okay to come to terms with yourself, it's okay to discover this sense of... if you have a hole in your life, you shouldn't fill it with another person, you should come to love yourself. That's something I definitely want the audience to take away from this, especially the girls."
5. This being his first major film, Brandon - who plays the male lead Ben - admitted that he was quite intimidated at having to act alongside Marianne
"It's such a blessing - this is my first major film, and to be acting alongside her is something that I'd never imagined would happen. But I'll be honest with you, it's a little intimidating at the same time, because it's my first time and I kept thinking, 'What if she thinks I'm absolute crap?!', Brandon mused.
"But it's also a good thing, because you feel the pressure and you wanna make sure you're at that level when she's obviously doing such a good job. Honestly, I'm so happy that my first film is with her, because she's one of the coolest and most understanding actresses to work with."
6. Though making a movie was already a whole new ballpark for JinnyboyTV, they managed to do it all on an "express" and very tight schedule
"Most of our YouTube videos are very quick. From start to finish, it'll take maybe one week or so. This is definitely longer, but even compared to proper feature films, we're already considered express," Reuben said.
"Most feature films will take at least three to six months for script development, another three to six months for pre-productions, one month to shoot, and three to six months to edit. We're doing all of those in one month blocks. We wrote the script in one month, pre-production in one month, shooting in 18 days, and we will finish editing within one month."
Reuben added that they are also working with a crew that's five times larger than what they're used to, which proved to be a great help when it comes to focusing on the details.
"We have more people, so we had more time to look into the details. We were very particular about how Faye's house should look like, how the school would look like, how the wedding should look like... the attention to detail has to be really accurate."
7. One of the most important things Jin and Reuben were insistent on was to make sure that the characters spoke like Malaysians normally would i.e. in Manglish
For Reuben, it was the one thing that he wanted to do differently from a lot of Malaysian English movies, which he thinks tend to be "very English".
"That's not how we speak, we speak in a very Malaysian way, very Manglish mah! So I had a lot of back and forth with the main actors to keep it Malaysian. Say it like how you would say it," he explained.
Pointing out that most of their videos are "very Manglish, and people still watch it", Jin said, "Just because a lot of people have been brought up with a 'West is best' mentality, we were confident that the mindset is changing, especially in the online world. At the end of the day, it's not really about where it's from. If the content is great, people will watch it."
8. There's a very heartwarming reason why the movie is being released specifically on Malaysia Day
"So the title 'By MY Side', the 'MY' actually stands for Malaysia. [In the context of the movie], it's basically a love story between Ben and Faye. Faye's first love is Ben, and as they grew older, they went through a lot of challenges and obstacles as they move on with life. But when you move on, you'll never forget the first thing that made you who you are today. In Faye's case, it's her first love, Ben," Jin explained.
"In a metaphor kind of way, it's about us Malaysians - no matter where you are or what you do, whether you're on holiday or migrating to another country - you'll never forget your 'first love', which is your own country. A lot of our viewers actually tell us, 'I always play your videos in the background although I've watched it a million times, just to hear that accent, because I miss it.'"
To put it simply, Reuben said, "It's a story of first love, and for us, our first love will always be our country."
'By MY Side' is set to be released on 16 September 2017 at TGV Cinemas nationwide
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