Malaysia and the Mentors – Part 4/7

In Post Three, we left the teams at noon with just under twenty four hours to go until the end of the 48hour competition. Things are heating up. Emotions are running high while hours of sleep are running low.

Wednesday | 4:32pm

The edits are coming along fine but the editors have a severe lack of things to do. They are currently sitting around making tiny tweaks on their small amount of footage, waiting for the rest of the crew to shoot something so they can edit more. I’m gonna head back to the hotel at 5pm as I’m getting a little sick of hearing Jerry the editor scratch his hair and body (these things happen when you’re in a small room with one other person for a prolonged period of time) then I’ll come back with Aliff around 9-10pm and stay until morning. It’s gonna be uncomfortable but I’ll manage.

editor sleeps kuching 48hours
Crew members need sleep. 48hour film festival can be detrimental to one’s health

Earlier, I went for a fantastic poo. But sadly – it pains me to relive this -no toilet paper. There isn’t any toilet paper in the whole university despite its 20,000 students. So, I crouched on the soaking wet toilet seat (as the douche next to it must be regularly used) and proceeded to shit all over the back of the seat on accident, not being used to the angle. Only one of two nuggets landed on the seat so I washed them back into the bowl with the douche, the fact dawning on me that this is possibly why the seat was so wet in the first place. Now I wish I at least photographed them as evidence like a national geographic journalist capturing the trials of a traveller aboard.

Afterward, I tried to ignore the fact that the cleaner was in the bathroom and would’ve seen my poo still in the toilet, as the fucking thing didn’t flush either. It sat there, as pathetic as the foreigner it recently escaped from. I hurried back to the cinematography building with a sweaty, shitty arse and a longing for the creature comforts I’m used to.
Hours later when I couldn’t bare the itchiness a second longer, I requested some tissues and excused myself for a well deserved, long awaited wipe.


Had a fifteen minute sleep in my hotel room. Strangely, today is the first time I haven’t fallen asleep on the way back from the university in Yusef’s hot car. Usually the heat, fatigue and winding roads drags me into a slumber quick smart but not today. Today I was wide awake the whole trip, txting and whatsapping and restless.

After my nap, I woke up and sat on my phone then read with a coffee. I’m waiting for Aliff to pick me up now. We planned to have a big dinner together but he has cancelled this as Team Skywar are still filming and he wants to be there for it. I have rushed out to grab a bite to eat before the final fourteen hours of the competition whack me over the face.

Cats Kuching
Cats everywhere in Kuching. Just everywhere.

I’m the only diner on the top floor of this restaurant next door to the hotel. It smells faintly of human poo – maybe that’s why. That, and the stray cats vying for food.


We are crammed in Aliff’s office, crowding around a table with four MacBooks on it. Two teams editing their films side by side, it’s beautiful really. The editing assistants source music and sound while the editors try to put together their masterpieces. I watch, gnawing my fist at their toddler-like pace. No, that’s rough – I’m letting the lack of sleep get to me. I have to remember that for them, this experience is exciting and new. They’re funny. They still call me Mr. Hayden which I secretly love because it makes me feel like a grown up and that I have something to offer the world that isn’t merely a childlike naïvety, the thing I’m most praised for.

We all gathered for the final stretch in Aliff's office. Two teams, four MacBooks, and a whole lotta brotherhood
We all gathered for the final stretch in Aliff’s office. Two teams, four MacBooks, and a whole lotta brotherhood

We are officially in our last quarter, time-wise. Aliff is pressuring Skywar to reshoot shots and I’m not in a place to argue. There are conversations regarding colour grades, sound design, all sorts. It’s heavenly. Exactly my nerdy kind of scene.

Thursday | 1:10am

The intervening hour and a half was spent shooting for the crew, and eating for us. Me, Aliff, Chong and Justin went out and got a cheap spicy feed from a surprisingly busy outdoor market. We sat and drank hot milky bubbly tea and slurped our noodles with shellfish and jalapeños, discussing the differences between NZ food and Malaysian food.

malaysian food
Delicious, spicy, juicy Malaysian food and wonderful company.

The plan was to get a Starbucks coffee after, my shout, as they’d never had one before, but midnight ticked over while we sat there and we watched the lights go out. I promised them one in the morning as they are quite expensive and considered a superfluous luxury. Now I’m settling in for a small nap while the editors edit their new footage. Both teams have completed their shooting. Good times!


The edits are basically locked, sound, music and colour grade being the chief concentration these last couple of hours. Of course, the lecturers have taken control, leaning over their students and prying the keyboard to change what they feel needs to be changed which I can imagine to be infuriating for the students but they don’t say anything.

I slept on the hard floor and am feeling more tired and fatigued than usual. It’s almost welcomed as I felt I wasn’t putting in enough effort before, but now I am. I went through Skywar’s edit with the assistant editor while the editor scratched himself in his sleep on the floor and made small tweaks to sound to clean it up, always taking care to check and explain to the assistant editor so she understood I wasn’t cleaving into her work unduly. This was a lengthy process as explaining these edits to a friend would have taken time, but to someone who speak English as a second language? Despite this, we got there.

Is there a more satisfying feeling?
Is there a more satisfying feeling? The exporting!

I haven’t watched a full cut of Xpress’s film yet because they are constantly bent over two laptops working furiously at it and I don’t want to interrupt, but will have to soon.

Aliff really wants to use copyrighted music so I’ve had to explain that it would render their team disqualified. He finds this unfair. He wants to use the song Killing Me Softly.

Time is ticking away. We have four hours to complete the challenge.


We have crossed the finish line with roaring success!! Everyone clapped and we all took a whole bunch of photos to celebrate. For that glorious moment, everyone forgets how much they smell and itch and ache. We are all filmmakers! And the films are surely Oscar worthy!

Success! Celebration!
Success! Celebration!

Both teams completed and exported their films with a healthy amount of time to spare. Time for Starbucks then back to the hotel for a lengthy shower.