Thursday, April 23, 2009

We’re losing talent!

Two days ago, a friend sent me a link to, a site that basically covers talent around the Asian region. I immediately checked out the segment for Malaysian artists and at first, i was once again in awe of the amount of sheer talent available here in our country. Then after reading a while, I noticed a trend.

“…she was born and raised Malaysia and graduated at The One Academy. She currently works in Shanghai as an Interact…”

“…Han, is a Malaysian artist currently living in Singapore and working for Lucasfi…”

“..he is currently based in Singapore, working in Imaginary F…”

To be really blunt about it, Malaysia seems to be losing talent, and I’d betcha, it’s not just for graphic design either. For instance, many of our filmmakers need to make it overseas first before they even get a smidgen of respect here in Malaysia.

Back when I worked in a certain men’s magazine, I had the privilege of watching a movie called Ciplak, by a guy called Khai. It was about one guy’s quest to fund his way through film school by selling pirated DVDs from Malaysia in the UK.

The film, shot on a budget of RM10,000 (approximately US$3000) had bad sound, amateur actors, and overall atrocious production values.

It was, however, the best Malaysian movie i have seen. Well-cut, well-scripted, thought-provoking and funny as hell, Ciplak was a revelation for me. The best compliment i can pay to the movie is that after 15 minutes, you forget about the lousy sound, the lousy production values, and the fact that the lead actor is your friend.

It was released for about a week on GSC International Screens (how ironic!) and when I went to watch it again in the cinema (I’ve seen it 3 times now!), i dragged 5 unwilling friends with me. They all enjoyed it. However, there were only 5 other people behind us in the whole cinema, and eventually we found out that they belonged to the cast and crew, who had acted and worked for free on the movie.

Ciplak eventually didn’t get anywhere notable at all. A very sad state of affairs. His current film is called “London Calling”, which i can only assume is going to lead him out of the country just like everyone else.

What i find in this country is a lack of faith, almost to the point of insecurity about our own talents. We need other people to tell us they’re good before we believe them. This reflects across all industries, but perhaps none more so than design.

Another sucky thing about alot of Malaysian employers is this “If he’s passionate it means that he’s cheap!” mentality, thinking that pure passion will pay the bills. While designers will usually do the work here, sooner or later, they hear about the greener pastures over at our neighbours down South and next thing you know, our complaints of a dearth of talent become a self-fulfilling policy.

This is part of the reason why I came up with Foldees. We want to create an eco-system for you guys to thrive. We want to reward artists, not just with credibility, but cold hard cash.

This gives them the willingness, and resources to continue whatever they’re doing, where they’re doing it, in the way that makes them unique to who and where they are, and hopefully, the world can benefit from that :)


Zeeman said...

I liked this Chak! Keep up the GREAT work dude!

chak said...


Heyyyy... what's up dude? Thanks for dropping by!

reddinkk said...

hey i was there at the ciplak premiere too. in midvalley i think..

it was quite a refreshing change from the usual cintan cintun/slapstick comedy local movie though.