Back in 2012, Malaysian director Tony Pietra participated in the project Train Station, a film by CollabFeature where 40 filmmakers from all over the world contribute a two-minute scene to make the entire movie.
Malaysia’s contribution came from Pietra and writer Isazaly Mohd Isa.
“It all started with one simple idea,” shared Pietra during a press conference in Kuala Lumpur. “A man misses his train at the station. What happens next?”
Other filmmakers involved in the project are from countries like Iran, Brazil, United States, Germany, Indonesia and France. The result is different sides to an unpredictable story that changes swiftly from location to actors and even genre.
Pietra’s segment stars Anrie Too as a femme fatale and Michael Chen as the man who falls in love with her.
“I added noir-ish elements to the story,” said Pietra. “It’s funny watching this now. The project is like a window into time. I still remember how at that time, we were unsure of where this (project) was heading.”
Pietra – who got involved in the local entertainment scene by directing various independent short films, music videos and TV serials from 2003 – is, however, thankful for the Train Station experience.
“When I made Train Station, I hadn’t really defined my style yet. I found my voice later on.”
But it did lead Pietra to actor Chen, who – in 2014 – produced Cuak, a film starring Ghafir Akbar and Dawn Cheong as a young couple preparing for their wedding. The feature was helmed by five different directors; one of them was Pietra.
“In concept, Cuak is similar to Train Station. However, it’s more contained with the same actors playing the same character throughout the film,” he explained.
He added that working on Cuak helped him decide what kind of filmmaker he wanted to be. Pietra’s segment in Cuak was presented in the form of a stylish noir-inspired thriller.
“(Collaborative) projects like these are a great platform to find one’s voice, especially for young filmmakers who are at the beginning of their career. When you work with others, you somehow discover yourself.”
Now that he has found his niche, audiences can expect more thrilling stories from Pietra. He has just completed filming Safari Mall, co-directing it with Jordan Suleiman from Studio Voxel.
The film – starring Nam Ron, Eyka Farhana and Nadzmi Adhwa – is currently in post-production.
“Safari Mall is more like a creature-feature, in 1980s style with lots of neon (lights). Hopefully it will be released next year.”
Pietra is also developing Shadowplay, a noir film, starring Tony Eusoff as a detective searching for answers across a mysterious futuristic landscape.
Train Station is now playing at GSC International Screens in Malaysia.