‘Tell stories with your heart’: Malaysian director Chiu Keng Guan on making movies

Chiu Keng Guan (left) filming 'On Your Mark' with the cast members. Photo: Astro

Director Chiu Keng Guan has had many successes in his filmmaking career that began with his first feature film WooHoo! (2010).

The man behind heartfelt films (not to mention box office hits) like The Journey (2014) and Ola Bola (2016) has set a new benchmark for Malaysian filmmakers with his latest movie, On Your Mark, which was filmed in China with Chinese actors.

It topped China’s box office on its opening day (June 18) earning RM8.7mil, and by the end of its run, the film reportedly collected a sum of almost RM100mil in the country.

On Your Mark is finally coming to Malaysia, premiering on Astro First (Ch 480), Aug 26.

During a virtual press conference with Malaysian media recently, the Batu Pahat-born director told StarLifestyle that making films in Malaysia and China are pretty similar.

“There are some differences in terms of the market, where China has a bigger market and it’s more matured. But in terms of all the people involved in the filmmaking process, we have the exact same thought, which is to tell a story that is meaningful and that it would touch audiences’ hearts,” said Chiu.

Well, Chiu definitely passed on both that aspects with On Your Mark. The film focuses on the not often told relationship between father and son.

Xiao Erdong (Zhang Youhao) dreams of becoming a marathon runner like his late mother. Although his father – taxi driver, Xiao Daming (Wang Yanhui) – isn’t keen on the idea at first, the single parent decides to help the boy realise his dream upon learning that the young man is losing his sight.

Dad trains along with son to achieve the latter’s marathon dream, and through this difficult journey they come to understand each other a little better.

Chiu elaborated: “In an Oriental family, emotions such as love is very subtle; we are less expressive. And the love of a father is always forgotten.

“I hope this movie reminds us of that fatherly love, as well as spreads (the message on the powers) of staying positive and never giving up.”

As to why he picked the theme of marathon as the foundation of the father-son story, Chiu said: “To me life is like a marathon.

“You don’t even consider the finishing line when you are just as the starting line.

“And when you start you are full of energy, but along the way obviously you want to give up. But you just have to believe in yourself and keep going, and keep trying to make it happen and everything will go through if you don’t give up.”

Laughingly, he confessed: “I did try (to run a) marathon before just to get the experience for the movie ... I tried it and I think that’s enough.”

While Chiu admitted his biggest challenge with each new film is to break new ground with creative ideas, he shared an important tip about filmmaking to future directors.

“Don't be afraid to pick up the camera and start shooting. Look for something you are really passionate about and tell the story with your heart. I believe you will surely find your audience one day.”

Father and son train together for the marathon. Photo: HandoutFather and son train together for the marathon. Photo: Handout

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Chiu Keng Guan , On Your Mark , Ola Bola , Astro


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