KUCHING: Ray Lee, The Star’s former photographer turned filmmaker, has not looked back since he swapped his cameras for the director’s chair over a decade ago.
With numerous short film credits, television programmes and music videos under his belt, Lee received recognition for his role in the local film industry when he was awarded Outstanding Contribution to Sarawak Film and Music Industries at the Anugerah Muzik Sarawak here last Saturday.
The Selangor-born filmmaker was rewarded for his film Dendam Gadang (Gadang’s Revenge), an Iban-language action movie showcasing Sarawak’s beautiful flora and fauna, native songs as well as customs and cultures of the local communities. The film director considered his work extra special because starring roles were given to non-professional actors comprising ordinary folk such as mechanics, farmers, drivers, housewives, and longhouse and village folk.
“There is no short cut to succeeding in the filming arts. You just have to shoot, shoot, shoot. Put yourself out there, gather your friends and make short films with your smartphones, then upload them on social media or Youtube.
“Do not wait until you have the budget and proper equipment to hone your skills, just keep on practising to perfect your art,” he advised budding and aspiring filmmakers when met here yesterday.
Lee is also producing an anime version of Dendam Gadang to reach a broader audience and has started working on his next project, a movie about a zombie apocalypse set against the native rural setting in Sarawak.
Since leaving the media line in 2006, Lee’s renowned work included producing music videos for pianist Datuk Mokhzani Ismail at the Great Wall of China for his instrumental song Getaran Jiwa.
Lee was also involved in the production of Be Your Own, a song by US band Beat the System that was shot in New York, as well as worked with Indonesian group Tegar for its hit Kau Yang Terbaik.
“I worked with The Star between 1997 and 2006 before leaving the media line to pursue my life-long dream of becoming a film producer and director.
“At first, I opened a music equipment store in Kuala Lumpur because of my love and passion for music. It was in 2011 that I took it up a notch in filming,” said the 41-year-old music and film entrepreneur.
Lee’s work can bee seen on Youtube, under the channel “Tujuh Warisan”, which is also the name of his production company.
He cited his recognition as a certified “visiting professor” by Yunnan Arts University, China, as his most cherished and biggest achievement to date.
“After receiving the ‘visiting professor’ certificate by Yunnan Arts University, I’m allowed to teach their students about film-making,” he added.
His experience in the media line, working under tight deadlines and in stressful environments at high profile assignments and functions, helped to hone his shooting skills.
During his younger days, Lee also worked as a fashion and studio photographer, where the experience there helped to develop his filming skills.