The world’s first film made from beer coasters

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  • Wednesday, 16 Dec 2015

On set with Coasters crew.

FROM Da Vinci to Shakespeare to Spielberg, every bold work of creativity which has ever existed started from the same place: a blank white canvas. It was with this notion that the philosophy “It all starts with white” was formulated. It represents a fearless attitude to transform passion into bold actions, taking that courageous first step and putting it all down on a white sheet. It is this same resilience that framed Tiger Beer’s latest brew, Tiger White – Asia’s Wheat Beer.

Drawing inspiration from the brew’s philosophy is Coaster, the world’s first short film ever, crowd-sourced from digital and physical beer coasters. The project called on consumers to put on their artistic hats for a chance to be a part of this film project, made by Malaysia’s creative talents, mentored by Everest director, Baltasar Kormákur.

There were 25 positions available in the production crew, with roles ranging anywhere from screenwriters to hair stylists to actors, and even on-set masseuses.

Submissions came pouring in from an eclectic mix of artistic individuals whose day jobs included electrical engineers, flight attendants, real estate agents and bank executives. Homeboys Cho We Jun and Benji Lim were the first two identified as director and screenwriter respectively. Coaster provided an amazing opportunity for many of these young Malaysians to experience being on a film set and doing something they would never dream of doing. The show will be screened at an exclusive premiere on Dec 19, but before that, here’s a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the movie.

The plot

Shortlisted from three viable plots was a 12-minute dramatic thriller of a young chef who has been given the opportunity to cook for a notorious mobster, the same man responsible for his father’s death. Will he plate up his revenge?

The director

Submitting his application and getting accepted was a huge step forward in Cho’s career. Having had experience dabbling in a few film-making projects of his own, he never dreamt it would be possible to be a part of a production of this magnitude.

“It wasn’t very long ago that I was working in a bank, following a path I didn’t want to take. I’ve made a few films before, but none like this. I mean, we were being mentored by Baltasar Kormákur for a short film production! How many people can say that? It’s just unbelievable!” expressed Cho.

The mentor

The short-film production was mentored by director Kormákur, who is no stranger to being courageous when bringing his ideas to life. His valour is most apparent in the retelling of tragic true accounts like Everest as well as his Icelandic Oscar nominated film, The Deep. Kormákur guided Cho and screenwriter Lim throughout the production of Coaster.

“I’m very excited to be a part of the Coaster production. I’m a big believer in you can achieve anything you want, regardless where you are from – Iceland or Malaysia. If you dream big, you can achieve big,” said Kormákur. “I’ve scaled mountains to make a film, I’ve swam in the North Atlantic Ocean to make a film, but I’ve never recruited people from beer coasters to make a film! I’m sure together we’ve created something special.”

The screenwriter

Lim submitted a few story lines, but it was his little vengeance tale that got him the judges’ nod.

“Who would have thought the judges would like it, and Baltasar too, for that matter? What an honour! I had my doubts filming-wise, about what we can or cannot show, but Baltasar advised us to trust our instincts and his guidance on this film is something money cannot buy. We took his notes and applied it. We Jun’s art direction is great, and the stylised ambiguity looks amazing. Really grateful to be selected for this project.”

The making

Shot on location around Kuala Lumpur, Coaster was filmed in just three days with post-production completed in less than two weeks. It was quite a feat for a 12-minute film that drew inspiration from local rituals and cultural traditions like Chinese opera. Rain and smoke machines, alongside six trained stuntmen, were some of the components brought in to achieve the required effects for this short film. And, as is typical with every film production, challenges faced were tackled, providing an exciting taste of life on set for Coaster contest winners.

“The crew have been amazing. Within a very short time-frame, we’ve come together from all walks of life – bank executives, engineers, flight attendants, you name it – and created a truly great production. I can’t wait for the premiere,” said Cho.

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