PETALING JAYA: Do you know how to make a horror movie? Do you know why some people adopt outlandish fake accents? Do you know why fathers always ask you to “ask your mudder” whenever you pose a question to them?
The boys over at The Ming Thing don’t really know either, but their guesses to these random questions are pretty close.
What started out as a group of friends making YouTube comedy videos about everyday quirks of life, has turned into a calling for the group behind the popular Malaysian channel.
While most Malaysians in their early 20s are just starting their careers, these five Internet-savvy stars have already turned into veteran video producers.
With 140,000 subscribers, The Ming Thing is a familiar name in viral videos and is regarded among Malaysia’s leading English YouTube Channel.
Twenty-five-year-old Ho Ming Han is the face of the channel, starring in many of the shorts uploaded. He also writes and directs the films.
His 22-year-old brother, Ho Ming Yue, acts and writes for the team and newest addition, Melissa Choong, 24, serves as their public relations officer.
Videographer and cinematographers Bryan Lim, 24, and Raffi Th’ng, 23, are in charge of shooting and video work although in producing projects, everyone’s work overlaps, said Ming Han.
With only a small production team, all five of the young entrepreneurs have to pull their weight in executing videos.
The birth of the Thing
What began as his personal video blog during university days has bloomed into something beyond expectations, said Ming Han.
Bryan, who did freelance video work, and Raffi, who was with another production company, came across Ming Han’s homemade Vlogs (video blogs) and soon after, the three decided to try their hand in producing high-quality videos.
The venture proved fruitful as their first video, Sh*t boyfriends say went viral in Jan 2013, clocking in 25,000 views in one day.
Their next project, a Valentine’s Day tribute called Alone forever also received favourable reaction, getting 50-70,000 views in a very short time.
“It was insane because numbers like that did not come by easily at that time,” said Ming Han.
Both videos have recorded more than 450,000 views since.
The group continued their video work while Ming Han completed his degree, producing for companies as a side income.
In 2013, the team established Core Studios Sdn Bhd, and never looked back since.
The production team’s previous headquarters was a humble storeroom of the Ho family house. “We even hung up a small sign above the storeroom, ‘for who also dunno’,” joked Ming Han when interviewed by The Star Online in their new premises in Empire Damansara, which they moved in on Sept 2013.
Core Studios, the company that produces the YouTube channel The Ming Thing, is less than a year old but has already amassed an impressive clientele list ranging from national Telcos, electronic giants, tourism companies and Malaysian celebrities.
Where The Ming Thing acts as the shop front, Core Studios is the kitchen and gear behind the ensemble, explained Ming Han.
“Many companies eventually create YouTube accounts to boost their image. Core Studios, however, started out the other way - it sprung from The Ming Thing,” he said, explaining that they already had the reputation and image by the time their production house official opened its doors.
While admitting that the money generated from YouTube advertising is minimal, Ming Han explains that the channel does wonders in promoting the company.
However, there is a delicate balance between advertising and keeping true to their work.
“When you go to YouTube, you don’t want to see too many ads. We don’t want to be sell-outs but try and respect our subscribers. Even if there is product placement, we are cautious with it and make sure it has to blend in,” he said.
In ensuring there are minimal advertising and no jarring commercialisation in their channel, the team keeps to their original purpose for production as reminders of why they started out the business in the first place.
“We do it because we are friends who can. Because we enjoy it, are passionate, and want to make a change in the entertainment industry,” said Ming Han.
Ming Han says as a young person delving into this uncharted territory can be scary, but a worthwhile experience.
“We studied our whole lives for a job that did not exist in Malaysia but in the end, we found a very good output for what we are passionate for. We could do what we enjoyed, and pay the bills,” he said. But the team isn't taking a back seat just yet.
“We are still learning,” quipped Raffi.
“While we are more financially comfortable now, we cannot be comfortable creatively. There is a need to look for areas to grow and learn. We are looking forward to projects we are not comfortable in, to push our boundaries,” added Ming Han.
The boys’ parents have been supportive throughout - “As long as make money right way, no drugs or things of the sort, our parents are all right with our choices,” piped Ming Yue.
The Ming Thing has so far stayed clear of controversy and politics, and according to Ming Han, they plan to keep it that way.
“We are careful about what we do. We believe the topics we talk about are more relatable to our viewers. It focuses on people and things that make us laugh.”
Most of their videos focus on silly life excerpts - the things no one notices until it is pointed out to them, said Ming Yue.
In their most popular video, Your Accent Come From Where, Ming Yue based the script on two girls he had met during his university orientation who adopted strange American accents.
“I asked them if they spent time overseas. They said no. I then asked if they go to the United States often. One of them answered ‘No, but my uncle lives there’!” said Ming Yue. He has not seen the girls since.
In their other video, How to Make A Korean Drama, the team even roped in a Korean-speaking friend to prepare dialogues and teach them how to speak Korean.
Although their strength is in comedy, The Ming Thing plans to move towards serious topics, and dab their feet in short films, love stories and action scenes.
“But we cannot escape from comedy, it’s in our blood,” said a smiling Ming Han.