Directors Think Tank has done something different for Raya this year – a feature film, a soundtrack album and two branded film campaigns for the festive season.
The main trailer for 3 Janda Melawan Dunia dropped this week – a feature film produced by Directors Think Tank, Multimedia Entertainment and the brainchild of in-house film director Hyrul Anuar.
The genre bending film took two years to complete – part musical, part friendship drama, all comedy – and is in Hyrul’s inimitable style and in his own words is “Breaking Bad meets Ozark with all the comedy of Hantu Kak Limah, starring 3 of Malaysia’s Golden Girls!”
With the screenplay by Hyrul Anuar, this film was pitched to Golden Screen Cinemas (GSC) in 2020, pre-pandemic.
GSC, together with Multimedia Entertainment – the production company behind successful Malaysian cinematic hits Ola Bola and Paskal The Movie – and Directors Think Tank formed a trifecta to bring the vision to life and agreed to form the main investors for the film. Six Fun Media and Astro also came on-board as investors.
Directors Think Tank and Komodo Pictures (a Multimedia Entertainment subsidiary) shared the production work, which only commenced in September 2021 due to COVID lockdowns.
“Directors Think Tank is known for doing TV Commercials and branded content. But we also believe in telling good stories in whatever form, and giving our directors the opportunities to go out there and create something different,” says Rajay Singh, founding partner of Directors Think Tank and Executive Producer on the movie.
This film represents the second foray into feature film production by Directors Think Tank on the back of the success of Malaysian Horror film Pusaka – a 2019 collaboration with Astro Shaw that grossed a respectable RM 13.7 million domestically.
Released on the 19th of May, 3 Janda Melawan Dunia is a feel good fun comedy that hopes to win over audiences with a one-of-a-kind story with a Malaysian twist.
Hyrul Anuar is known for his award winning work for campaigns like Tesco, Grab, Astro, Vinda and Tokopedia – each with a comedic bent. A film-maker with his finger on the pulse of Malaysian humour and smart comedy, Hyrul is no stranger to innovation.
Prior to joining Directors Think Tank, Hyrul was with Leo Burnett for over eight years, where he held the position of Art director and then Creative Content Director.
The first Malaysian to win the young Lotus competition at Adfest (Asia Pacific Advertising Festival), he then received an offer to join Fabrica (United Colors of Benetton’s Communication Reserch Centre in Treviso, Italy) and was awarded a full scholarship. This led to exhibitions in Lisbon, Venice, and KL.
Since returning to Malaysia, Hyrul has established himself as one of Malaysia’s comedic mainstays within the advertising community. With 3 Janda Melawan Dunia as his feature film debut, he is now expressing himself creatively in new ways.
“This is a way for me to give my best to Malaysian cinema, I feel we can push the envelope,” quips Hyrul.
“To create something fresh, I looked for elements in contrast and that are unlikely. And what is more unexpected than 3 old mak ciks making vape juice? But I didn’t want to make a stupid comedy – It had to be smart and meaningful. The story had to be special.”
Hyrul was hands on with the screenplay and it took a few months from basic concept to the shooting script. Ideas evolved even during the shoot to make sure the story was the best it could be.
The story revolves around 3 widows from the kampung, who set up a vape juice business to make enough money to attend the final concert of their favourite singer – Aiman Zalini.
The recipe is such an unexpected success that it even rehabilitates drug addicts, which draws the unwanted attention of the local drug cartel – leading to a comedic adventure about friendship, empowerment, trust and forgiveness.
Technology meets talent
“Aside from working with our commercial crew, art department and DOPs, we are proud that 3 Janda Melawan Dunia is the first Malaysian feature film to use the Bolt High Speed Motion Control Robotic Arm – something we purchased in 2021 precisely for our in-house directors to better express themselves creatively,” adds Pat Singh, Executive Producer for Directors Think Tank. “As the only Bolt Motion Control in Malaysia, it was something that we could contribute as a value-added asset for certain high speed sequences to increase the production value of the film.”
“It’s great to collaborate with Directors Think Tank – a passionate company who always gives 200%. I enjoyed working with Hyrul – a crazy and talented director. With the crews and cast put together for the film, we created some unique visuals on screen that I hope the audience will really enjoy,” shares Keoh Chee Ang, Executive Producer for Multimedia Entertainment.
Pushing the envelope wasn’t merely visual, but in terms of selecting the cast as well. Most Malaysian movies tend to cast young up-and-coming 20- somethings with millions of instagram followers. But Hyrul was determined to work with faces he had known from watching movies as a child.
With a cast led by 3 veteran actresses of Malaysian Cinema – Khatijah Tan, Normah Damnhuri and Raja Azura, as well as Norman Hakim and theatre newcomers – this was a unique ensemble cast.
“Even though this is a comedy, I looked for 3 serious actors who are famous, but not in their hey-days anymore. It’s a combination that will attract people,” Hyrul shares. “It’s something different from the roles they’re known for in the past, and that makes things fresh and interesting.”
When asked to do the movie by Hyrul, Raja Azura, one of the leads, exclaimed, “Wow, you’re quite daring to cast 3 old aunties! But when he explained, I was taken by the story and felt that this really can be something new for Malaysian cinema. It’s like a new genre.”
YK Tung, General Manager of GSC says, “This movie is all about Hyrul and his infectious laughter! GSC is proud to collaborate with Directors Think Tank in discovering talents both in front and behind the camera.”
With a film style that lends itself to with different genres of music and dance, Hyrul together with his brother Rizdzuwan Jusoh, created and composed 6 new songs specifically for story-telling moments in the movie.
Directors Think Tank, with its forte in TV Commercials and branded content, saw this as a unique opportunity to create a cross-promotional media landscape together with sponsors and partners who could broaden the film landscape.
“The hope is that the songs and music videos would feed interest in the trailers which would feed interest into the branded content and vice versa, creating a month of memorable content,“ says Maurice Noone, Co-founder of Directors Think Tank.
“While sponsorship for movies is common – with product placement in films as the mainstay for brands – product endorsements related to movie launches typically feature the actors or actresses from the movie as themselves. We wanted to try to create an ecosystem of buzz, where the world of the movie exists in other branded content outside of the film,” Maurice explains.
By creating branded films for sponsors and partners that showcased the characters from the movie – rather than the actors or actresses endorsing products as per the norm – the plan was to create unique stories for brands that would drive up overall engagement.
Nescafé and Hotlink were both receptive to the idea, and came on board as main sponsors and participated as partners in creating more content for multiple channels.
Directors Think Tank then produced 3 x 20sec TVCs, and 3 x 6 second tag-ons for Nescafe which air on free-to- air and digital. For Hotlink, a 1 x branded film and 3 branded trailers were produced for digital, plus a FB Live event.
Post-Production on the movie and all the branded films were completed by Directors Think Tanks in-house post production facility Tank3 Asia.
Veteran commercial film director and award-winning Creative Director Tan Yew Leong shared with MARKETING magazine at a recent screening of the film, “Hyrul is a very clever young man who can paint very well too. I felt the movie was very honest and came from the bottom of his heart. It was psychedelic P Ramlee for me!”
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