Sabah Film Academy push filmmakers to next level

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Participants rolling the camera under the watchful eyes of Jacques Comets.

Ten Sabah filmmakers was given a golden opportunity to hone their filmmaking skills under the tutelage of international mentors through Sabah Film Academy in Kota Kinabalu, recently.

Sabah Film Academy is an intensive film production programme to train young filmmakers on various skillsets and knowledge in filmmaking by producing a short documentary within 8 days, with workshops, pre-production meetings, principal shooting and post production support led by a team of established Malaysian and international mentors

The international mentors for the Sabah Film Academy sessions are their Dean and Director Marcus Vetter from Germany, Film Editor Jacques Comets from France, Emmy nominated composer Miriam Cutler, and Malaysian Director of Photography Filus Ghazali.

World Class Mentors

Sabah Film Academy Dean and Director Marcus Vetter is an acclaimed filmmaker, and his films have received attention at national and international film festivals as well as winning numerous prizes, among which are 3 Adolf Grimme Awards, the German Oscar. His films and documentations are feature length films such as The Tunnel (1999), My Father The Turk (2006), Heart of Jenin (2008), Hunger (2009), Cinema of Jenin (2011) and The International Criminal Court (2012).

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Mentors Marcus Vetter and Miriam Cutler listening intently on the points put forward by participants.

Film Editing mentor Jacques Comets has edited or produced 41 films since 1986, working with directors such as Bernard Stora, Raoul Peck, Christine Pascal, Djamshed Usmonov, Ramadan Suleiman, Pablo Aguero, Tsai Ming-liang, Tonie Marshall, Massoud Bakshi , and Dima El-Horr. He has been involved in editing several feature films in Morocco, Palestine, Colombia, Lebanon and Vietnam. He is currently head of the Editing Department at French National Film School.

Meanwhile, Emmy nominated composer, Miriam Cutler has an extensive background scoring for independent film & TV projects. Her passion for documentary film has led to a focus on non-fiction, which includes Oscar nominated Kingspoint and Poster Girl, Emmy nominated Ethel, Vito,Thin and Desert of Forbidden Arts as well as Emmy winning Ghost of Abu Grahib. She is also a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

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Film Editor Jacques Comets explaining the intricacies of filmmaking to the participants.

Malaysian Director of Photography Filus Ghazali, who is based in Kuala Lumpur, gave his insights on Cinematography techniques. Having collaborated with many international filmmakers,  his work includes an award winning television commercial,short and feature length film productions.

Sabah Film Academy Intensive Training

During the 8 days workshop, the participants was divided into 2 groups (Team ST and Team HB) of 5 each and was given task of coming up with two different topics for documentary.

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Local music composers Asif Pishori (right) and Andrew Poninting (left), whom later collaborated with Team ST and Team HB respectively.

Team ST shot a documentary on stateless teenager under team leader Marcel Simok and Team HB put together a documentary on the historical buildings in KK under their team leader, Janessa Wong. For more information on Sabah Film Academy 2014, please click this link.

List of participants for the Sabah Film Academy are as follows.


Marcel Simok, Team Leader
Nizam Andan
Adam Tambakau
Mohamad Yusob Ismail
Ezandro Sualin

Team HB

Janessa Wong, Team Leader
Johnny Cheah Sin Chun
Azahqual Osman
Mohd Fikri Bin Rosle
Tommy @ Mohd Hamizan

Participants was mentored over 8 days, from June 1 to June 8. They were given insights of filmmaking during the two day workshop, which was followed by pre-production meetings on June 3 and June 4. Participants were equipped with high end digital filmmaking equipment courtesy of Sabah Film Academy.

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Marcel Simok putting the finishing touches under the tutelage of Miriam Cutler.

Both teams was given two day to complete their post production work before the official Awards Night screening on June 8, which was followed by presentation of Mentor Awards and certificated.

Team ST leader Marcel Simok and Team HB leader by Janessa Wong was awarded with Mentor Award, which includes RM1,000 cash price for each Sabah Film Academy is co-funded by the Elysee Fund/Fond Franco Allemand through the collaboration between Alliance Francaise Malaysia and the Goethe-Institut Malaysia, and supported by the US Embassy.

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Marcel Simok highlighting a point during a discussion.
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Team HB pitching their story idea to the mentors.

Photos by Chris Pereira