Although he's had the passion for filmmaking since young, Anthony Tham hadn’t had the time to pursue it. That is, until now.
An engineer by profession, previously based in Miri and Kota Kinabalu, and now works on a monthly rotational basis in Southern Iraq, the 32-year-old Sarawakian finally realised his dream to be a filmmaker.
His feature film titled One Day is currently available on Vimeo On Demand, which can be rented (for RM6.40 for 72 hours) or downloaded (for RM21.50).
“Growing up, I was always glued to the TV for hours re-watching my favourite movies, Forrest Gump, Green Mile, Titanic, Ever After and The Matrix," shared Tham, who shot videos throughout his school years, then freelanced as a videographer at weddings and events during his university days.
More recently, the father to three children decided to embark on making his first film with the help of his wife and his childhood buddies. That film is One Day, which Tham wrote based on a friend’s experience.
One Day revolves around two people who find each other after feeling lost almost all their lives.
Nobody notices Eve (Liew Chi Mun), not even her co-worker at a laundromat. She gets further into her shadows when she's dumped by her boyfriend.
Meanwhile, successful architect Nigel (See Yu) has a rather aloof personality which puts him at odds with the people around him.
As the title suggests, one day, Nigel and Eve meet at the laundromat and they slowly find comfort in each other.
Tham said his film is not a sweeping romance, but a rather “a promise of finding happiness”.
He elaborated: “One Day depicts a very real struggle that people face in their lives ... It portrays the uncertainty of the present and the future of life, with hope as the fundamental drive to finding happiness.
With One Day, Tham wants to show there is light at end of the tunnel. He added: “One can find happiness even at the bleakest moments ... when there are people around you who value you for who you are.”
The Kuching-born Tham placed a lot of emphasis on the locations featured for One Day as a way to convey the feeling of hope and the characters’ need to keep a distance from other people.
He said of three major spots featured in the film: “Laundroluxe in Kota Kinabalu is a classy restaurant combined with laundromat, one of its kind in this region.
“Kundasang that’s at the foot of Mount Kinabalu has one of the most beautiful sceneries I have ever seen in Malaysia.
“The historical Fort Margherita that sits on the hill across Sarawak River overlooking Kuching waterfront brings a sense of charm to movie.
“Watching this movie I felt so proud, blessed and lucky to be a Malaysian and to live in this beautiful country."
Though he had finished the script in May 2018, Tham only shot it in October 2019. The shoot took 10 days to complete.
According to Tham, the biggest challenged he faced was finance.
In the end, it was entirely funded by Tham, with co-producers, Nigel Chong and Jason Yeo. Everything was kept on a tight budget. One way Tham cut cost was by taking on the role of producer, director and cinematographer.
“It was very challenging mentally and physically,” stated Tham of the triple responsibilities.
“At times I doubted myself of the choices I made, particularly on the set designs. But with the help from the team, I was able to seal the shots confidently. It was crazy but an invaluable experience at the same time.”
After the film was completed, Tham realised he had another big hurdle to overcome – finding a distributor.
“As we're new in this industry, it's quite difficult to get the attention of local distributors willing to distribute the film.
“ I knocked on many local distributors’ doors with little to no response. Some mentioned that they only wanted films with A-list cast or were only looking for horror films that the local market loves.
“However, I strongly believe there is a strong market for local English feature films in Malaysia and its neighbouring countries, be it at the cinemas or on streaming platforms.
“That's why we decided to self-distribute it on Vimeo On Demand a platform that allows independent filmmakers to sell their films.
“It will be available on this platform for the time being until a distribution deal has been matched.”
While One Day posed a lot of challenges, Tham is raring to make another feature soon.
“I am currently working on another drama/romance story. It is still at an early stage but it's going to be an interesting one,” he promised.
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