Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Interchange in theSun

Interchange is a Malaysian movie that has traveled to many international film festivals. The film will soon hit the Malaysian cinemas on Dec 1 
Over the years, theSun has carried so many interviews with the cast and the director. In this blog post, we will be highlight all the interviews that has taken places starting with the director  followed with the actors.  

1) Dain Said ( Published in theSun on April 13 2016) 

Headline: A Mystic Connection 
By Bissme S 

Dain Said was kind enough to show me some scenes from his
latest film, Interchange, which opens in cinemas at the end of the year. I believe Interchange is going to be an exciting film.
Dain first shot to stardom in 2007 when he directed Dukun,
a film loosely based on the life of the infamous Mona Fandey
who committed a gruesome murder. Unfortunately, Dukun
was never released here by the producers.
Putting this devastating incident behind him, in 2011, Dain went on to direct Bunohan, a thriller drama about an intense relationship among three brothers and their ailing father.
Bunohan paid off handsomely with the movie gaining screen
time at several prestigious international film festivals. It also earned Dain a number of accolades, including best director and best picture, at the 25th Malaysian Film Festival.
Now, everyone is eagerly awaiting his next film, Interchange. Made with a budget of RM3.5 million, Interchange centres on forensic photographer Adam (played by Iedil Putra), who becomes psychologically traumatised after having to photograph endless pictures of the dead.
Adam locks himself in his condominium and soon develops a habit of secretly taking pictures of his neighbours.
The beautiful Iva (played by award-winning Indonesian
actress Prisia Nasution), who has just moved into the
neighbourhood, catches him photographing her. Instead of
getting angry, she befriends him and becomes his lover.
Adam soon learns that loving Iva can be dangerous, and he
gets dragged into a world filled with blood and gore.
There is no doubt that featuring tortured souls on the big screen is not a new thing for Dain. Is the director a tortured soul like his characters?
Laughing, Dain said: “I seemed to possess some of
those characteristics when I was young. Most people would
like to believe that I am an extrovert. But I can also be an
introvert. When I was young, I loved reading stories featuring
characters [fraught] with  intense angst. This kind of characters was far more interesting [compared to other characters].”
Interchange also stars another award-winning Indonesian actor Nicholas Saputra. The inclusion of these two Indonesian stars has led to some people insinuating that Dain does not have faith in Malaysian talents.
The director brushes this accusations aside. “One of the best things about our industry is our amazing actors,” he said.
“They can do their scenes in just one take. I have never doubted their talent.”
He explained that the plot features a tribal community from Borneo that speaks in an Indonesian dialect and hence, using Indonesian actors makes perfect sense.
The first time he met Prisia was in 2012, at the Asian Film
Festival in Macau. They became good friends instantly and
had always wanted to work together.
As for Nicholas, Dain has always been a big fan of his body of work, and felt it would be a wonderful challenge to direct this talented actor, who is known to be very picky about
his film roles.
Dain has played with mystic elements in all his previous
films, and he does the same in Interchange.
“There has always been mystic elements in my culture. Korean filmmakers have always taken a western genre, and injected their own culture into it. I am doing the same thing here.”
The inspiration for the film’s English title came when he was in Bangkok, doing the final editing for Bunohan.
He was staying at a residence right in the heart of the city, with
many tall condominiums in front of him and he could clearly see what was going on within the neighbours’ homes.
That sparked him to write the story for Interchange.
“This movie is about change,” Dain said. 
“Every character goes through some kind of transformation.”
Dain’s ambition to be a filmmaker started from his childhood.
“I grew up playing in the beaches of the East Coast,” said Dain who was born in Tumpat, Kelantan.
His caretakers took him to traditional theatre performances such as wayang kulit, menora and mak yong, held on the beach.
At age seven, he followed his parents to live in Egypt and
England but the sweet memories of those stories on the beaches
of his homeland have always stayed with him.
“After 26 years abroad, I knew I wanted to come home
and tell Malaysian stories,” he said

2) Nicholas Saptura  ( Published in theSun April 21, 2015) 

Headline: A Character Actor  
BY Bissme S 

Indonesian actor Nicholas Saputra shot to stardom in his first film, Ada Apa Dengan Cinta? in 2002. He was just 17. He played a lonely teenage poet Rangga who falls in love with a popular classmate, Cinta.
Since then, Nicholas, now 31, has transformed himself from a handsome teen heartthrob into a credible actor, taking home the best actor award for his portrayal of Chinese-Indonesian activist Soe Hok Gie in the 2005 biopic, Gie.
More recently, he appeared in Interchange, under award-winning director Dain Iskandar Said. In this supernatural fantasy thriller, Nicholas plays Belian, a mysterious and menacing man from  Borneo who is linked to a series of gruesome murders that the authorities are investigating. Nicholas based himself in Kuala Lumpur for a month before filming began to prepare for the role. 
He observed a strict schedule of script readings, rehearsals, movement choreography, learnt Borneo’s dialects, as well as doing stunt and fitness trainings. Before returning to Jakarta, Nicholas talked to the Malaysian media on the following topics


Explaining the reason for accepting the role of Belian, Nicholas says: “It is a great story and the script was well-written. I read the script I receive, and if I feel I would want to watch that film, I will probably say yes to the role.”
His role also required the use of prosthetics, and he was spending some three to four hours in  the makeup chair before filming.
The actor was full of praise for director Dain who had helmed the controversial 2007 film Dukun which was banned, and the drama thriller Bunohan, which won eight awards at the 25th Malaysian 
Film Festival (FFM) including for best actor, best picture and best director.
“Dain is awesome,” Nicholas says. 
“He knows what he is doing. He is very articulate in terms of the details of his story and his characters. He is also passionate about what he is doing and the best thing is that his passion can be contagious.”


With Hollywood keen to hire Asian actors nowadays, does Nicholas harbour similar dreams? After  all, his pan-Asian looks (his father is German and mother Javanese) would probably catch the eyes of Hollywood casting directors.
“Hollywood is not my main focus right now,” he says but adds that if an opportunity comes his way that offers a strong character and script, he will have no reservations.
“I am preparing myself to be surprised,” he says with a laugh.


As an actor, Nicholas is pacing himself to act in only one film a year or even sometimes, one film every two years.
“Once I accept a role, I put every ounce of my energy into the production,” he says.
“I will give the role 100%.”
When not acting, Nicholas enriches himself with experiences such as travelling or photography. These experiences will indirectly shape him to be a better actor.
He points out that everyone has his/her own style of working and he is the kind of actor who prefers not to overwork himself.


One of his hobbies is travelling and he has travelled to many places. “I have a big interest in people, culture and architecture,” he says.
When asked the best place he had visited, he said: “Rio de Janeiro ( Brazil). I love the forest, city and beaches. Rio has all of them in one place. The weather is never too hot or too cold.”
One of his future travelling plans is to go on a photo safari to Kenya and Tanzania in Africa. “I have a big interest in animals,” he says.


In this electronic age where everyone craves popularity and celebrities flaunt their lovers on social media, Nicholas is determined to walk a totally different path.
He has a strict policy of never discussing his love life with the media. His decision has not endeared him to some media and movie fans.
“I do not want my personal life to overshadow my work,” he says. 
“It has never been my intention to be popular. I became an actor because I want to express myself. All I care about is giving my best performances and hoping people like what I do.
“Popularity never lasts, but great works will. I want to be remembered as someone who gave his best.”

3) Prisia Nasution (Published in theSun on May 1, 2015) 

Headline: The Accidental Actress 
By Bissme S 

Award-Winning Indonesian actress Prisia Nasution has taken on the female lead role in the Malaysian-made film, Interchange, that is slated to open in cinemas next year.
The film, under the direction of Dain Said, is a supernatural thriller that focuses on a series of gruesome murders under investigation by the authorities. 
One of the reasons that motivated the 31-year-old actress to accept the role is because she shares a warm relationship with the director.The first time Prisia and Dain met was in 2012 at the Asian Film Festival in Macau, China.
“There was a connection between us,” says Prisia.
“We hit it off immediately. We had so much fun. I enjoyed the time I spent with him. I even told him that it will be more fun if we make a film together.”
Three years later, she and Dain are making this dream a reality.
“A lot of people out there are making safe movies,” she says,
“But Dain is making a movie that is out of the box.Interchange is about birth, life and death.”
Prisia is not allowed to describe her role in detail as it will reveal too much of the plot. She also wants viewers to be able to discover the film on their own.
“All I can say is that my character has a lot of layers,” she
Going back to her past, Prisia explains that her career as an actress was a happy accident. She started out as an athlete who represented her country in silat. Later, she began receiving offers to be a catwalk model.
“I agreed to the offers because I wanted to earn money.” 
But she hated the industry.
“Everyone is always judging how you look, and always finding
flaws with your appearance,” she recalls.
“You hear harsh comments like you are too skinny … your legs are too big ... your hands are too manly … your left eye is smaller than your right eye.
“Modelling was all about appearances.I stopped appreciating myself and I did not like that.”
Then, in 2007, acting jobs came knocking at her door and she appeared in a handful of telemovies before making the leap to the big screen.
Her role as a ronggeng (a type of Javanese dance) dancer in the movie Sang Penari, based on the Ronggeng Dukuh Paruk trilogy written by Ahmad Tohari, earned her the best actress award at the 2011 Indonesian Film Festival.
Ironically, she remembers having failed her first audition for that role. 
“But then, I started reading the novel and I fell in love with the story.”
Prisia believes in being selective about her choice of roles and only wants projects that she is passionate about. She is also a strong believer of method acting, from learning ronggeng for Sang Penari to living among indigenous people for her role in Sekolah Rimba, where she played a teacher who works with indigenous children.
“I ate what they ate,” she recalls. 
“I slept where they slept. I learned their dialect. Research is important if you want to give a convincing performance.”
Some actors have complained they have a hard time shaking off their character roles in-between filming. Fortunately, Prisia has never experienced this kind of madness.
“I hope I never do,” she says with a laugh. 
“I am in character between ‘action’ and ‘cut’. Before ‘action’, people can joke with me, and after ‘cut’, people can still joke with me.”


4) Ledil Putra ( Published in theSun on May 30 2016) 

Headline: Sticking to His passion 
By Bissme S 

Actor Iedil Putra’s dream of working with award-winning director Dain Said has finally come true. The 32- year-old has a starring role in Dain’s upcoming film, Interchange, a supernatural thriller that will open in cinemas at the end of the year. 
“I loved Bunohan, and I have always wanted to work with [Dain],” says Iedil.  
In Interchange, the actor takes on the role of forensic photographer Adam, who becomes psychologically traumatised after photographing numerous brutal crimes. 
Adam then locks himself in his condominium and spies on his neighbours, taking pictures of them. When the beautiful Iva (played by award-winning Indonesian actress Prisia Nasution), moves into his neighbourhood, a relationship develops between them. Adam soon learns that 
loving Iva can be a dangerous thing when he gets dragged into a dark world filled with blood and gore. 
“I knew I would be in good hands when I accepted the role,” Iedil says of Dain. 
He loves the fact that the director organised a lot of meetings and also conducted rigorous rehearsals with his cast before shooting began. “Dain wants his actors to get into the skin of their characters,” Iedil says. 
“I believe rehearsals are important because the director needs to convey his vision to his actors. Rehearsals also allow the director and the actors to find better ways to present the story to the audience.” 
Iedil adds that Dain loves to use literature as a reference, pointing out that the director’s office is filled with books. He was even asked by Dain to read Albert Camus’ The Stranger to better understand his Adam character. Since his character is from Sabah, Iedil says Dain got a dialogue coach to teach him the Sabahan accent. “A lot of East Malaysian elements can be seen in this film,” he says, adding that this is something we seldom see portray in local films. 
Describing his character, Iedil says: “Adam is filled with angst and is reserved. He is always questioning life. I am nothing like Adam. I am more easy going.” 
Iedil is also excited with the news that Interchange has been picked up by Paris-based distribution company Reel Suspects. 
“I am always jealous to see our neighbouring countries producing good movies that have been widely accepted in international film festivals and international market,” he says. 
“We should be doing the same. At the end of the day, as an actor, I want to be involved in good projects. We should be paying more attention on developing good scripts.” Iedil has been acting professionally since he was nine years old. 
His first attempt at acting was in a stage play, I Remember the Rest House by the late director Syed Alwi. He also appeared in a handful of other plays. But at age 17, Iedil received a scholarship to study medicine in the United Kingdom. 
“I did not want to burden my parents … so I accepted the scholarship. I thought I could take up performing arts as a hobby.” 
But Iedil could not see himself as a doctor “when I am 65”, so he quit his studies and became a full-time actor. 
“My parents were sceptical about my decision, but in the end, they gave me their blessing.” 
Iedil has since delivered some notable performances as an actor such as playing a racist schoolboy in the stage play Parah, and an arrogant actor in the film Terbaik Dari Langit. 
When asked if he has any regrets choosing acting over medicine, he says: “Sometimes the industry can kill your spirit, and there are times I feel jaded being a Malaysian actor. 
“It is difficult to get good scripts and good roles. Sometimes, you have to accept roles that you are not happy with because you have to put food on the table. 
“In some productions, I am given a script just a day before the shoot. Sometimes, the script gets written on the set just hours before shooting begins. How do you expect an actor to get into his character just hours before the shoot? 
“But I am passionate about what I do, and you don’t give up on what you are passionate about. You just stick with it.” 


5) Shaheizy Sam  (published in 

Headline:  Acting With An Open Mind 
By Bissme S

Award winning actor Shaheizy Sam  has a complex role in Interchange, opening in cinemas on Dec 1, as a detective on a mission to find a violent serial killer. 
“[My character] is driven by logic,” says Shaheizy, 34. 
“But his case is beyond logic. There is some mysticism involved. His world gets shaken. You will see him undergo a transformation from a confident man to a tortured soul. And his ego will be his downfall.” 
While his character may not believe in mysticism, what about Shaheizy himself? 
He explains: “I have seen things that I cannot explain. I remember I once saw something that had the body of a horse and the face of a deer. [But] the thing was not scary [at all].” 
Shaheizy has wonderful memories of working with director Dain Said. 
“Dain takes time to have lengthy discussions with his actors about their roles before shooting begins,” he says. 
“Dain is precise, and knows what he wants. There are many roads to your destination and Dain guides you to the right [one]. If you follow his advice, you will never get lost.” 
In early August, Shaheizy and fellow cast members attended the world premiere of the film at the prestigious Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland. 
“There was a huge crowd watching Interchange in the rain, with umbrellas over their heads,” he remembers. 
“No one moved from their chairs. One blogger even said Interchange was a must-see movie at the festival.” 
But while many Malaysian films have achieved international acclaim on the festival circuit, they often fail to connect with 
audiences here. Will Interchange suffer the same fate? 
“I cannot predict [the] response to Interchange,” Shaheizy says. “But sometimes, I wish Malaysians can accept Malaysian films the way they accept Malaysian [athletes] who have done well at international competitions. [Come] and support us, and watch Interchange in the cinemas. We are always hearing complaints that Malaysian filmmakers are churning out the same old boring themes. Well, Dain and his team are giving us something different in Interchange.” 
The movie has three male leads – Shaheizy, ledil Putra, and Indonesia’s Nicholas Saptura. One wonders if there was any competition among them to shine onscreen? 
“Acting is never about competing with each other,” Shaheizy says. “ Acting is all about complementing each other.” 
He stresses that the actors have to work together if they want the movie to succeed. 
“I know Iedil and Nicholas are great actors, and I must [be] on par with them,” he says. 
Shaheizy’s own acting career began at age 12, when he made his debut in the 1995 film Sama Tak Serupa. 
“I never thought I would last [this] long in the movie industry,” he says. 
“Producers are always looking out for tall, fair and handsome actors. I do not fulfil those requirements. But thanks to [shorter actors like] Al Pacino and Tom Cruise, I learned that height has nothing to do with acting ability. They are successful actors. I need to be like them and be extremely good in what I am doing.” 
While he is selective about his projects today, as a young actor he would accept any role that came his way. 
“Some of the greatest actors in the world have accepted bad roles because they have bills to pay,” he explains. 
“I’m the same. I needed to be financially sound before I can afford to be selective with my roles. You cannot always blame an actor if the film is bad. Sometimes I have a good script and a good role. But the situation would be totally different on the set.” 
Instead of being frustrated with the way the industry works, Shaheizy believes in making the best of the situation he is in. 
He has also just finished shooting his latest film, Pinjamkan Hatiku where he had to lose weight to play a cancer patient. 
 “As an actor, you [have] to make things believable, and I am just doing my job as an actor,” he say.


6) Nadiya Nissa ( published in theSun on Nov 1, 2016) 

Headline: Roles For The Times
By Bissme S

Actress Nadiya Nissa’s character in Interchange, Sani, is more than 100 years old, but seems to have the power of eternal youth.
“Everyone lives and dies,” said the 31-year-old actress.
“But Sani has defied this life’s cycle. She is willing to go to any length to hide her secret. She cheats life, death and everyone around her. She is a manipulator.Roles like hers are rarely found in Malaysian films and I’m very lucky to play her.”
Nadiya was not the first choice  to play Sani. The talented Sofia Jane had been cast in the role first, and had already undergone rehearsals with the production team.
But at the last minute, things did not work out, and Nadiya was pulled in to replace the veteran actress.
“I have fears that I will do not justice to the character because I had a limited time to prepare,” Nadiya said.
“Initially, I wanted to reject the role.”
But Nadiya listened to her gut feeling, and changed her mind.
“I know Dain Said (the director of Interchange) will [do a good] job,” said Nadiya.
“Dain is a director who loves his actors and he wants them to be happy with the end product.”
Dain conducted several intense rehearsals with Nadiya for her to understand her character. This is not the first time the two have worked together. Nadiya had worked on his previous film Dukun (completed in 2007, but never released) and enjoyed the experience.
“I was only 18 when I first worked with Dain,” Nadiya said.
During post-production, Nadiya was happy to see that her scenes turned out well. She is aware that when Interchange opens in cinemas on Dec 1, people may compare her performance to how the role could have been performed by Sofia.
“I adore Sofia very much,” she says.
“Sofia is one of the best actresses in our industry. If people said Sofia could have done the role better than me, then it is good for her. I will push myself to do better next time. I will not have any resentment.
“But one must remember that Sofia and I are two different individuals andthe way I interpret Sani will be different from the way Sofia interprets it.”
Interestingly, in 2014, Nadiya played a young upcoming actress who called herself Sofia Jane in the movie Terbaik Dari LangitShe even imitated the famous coffee-drinking scene from Perempuan, Isteri Dan ... ? (1993) that shot the real-life Sofia to stardom.
The role got Nadiya the award for best supporting actress at the Malaysian Film Festival last year.
Her role in Interchange has her going toe-to-toe with award-winning Indonesian actor Nicholas Saputra.
“I am a fan [of his],” she says.
“I loved him since his first film Ada Apa Dengan Cinta.I had to remind myself during the shoot that I am [his] co-star.”
Nadiya added that Nicholas was kind enough to help her to get into her character once he learned she joined the project late.
“He is not a selfish person but helpful and kind,” she said. 

“He is willing to share his knowledge with me.”
Nadiya said she has always loved acting, since she was a young girl. Her mother encouraged her ambition, and Nadiya confessed she would love to act “till my hair turns white”.
“This is not an easy dream to achieve,” she explains.
“Sometimes the industry can kill your spirit, and you just feel like
When asked to cite an example, she says:
“Some production managers will call you and just ask you if you are free on certain dates to act in their projects. Then, they will ask you about your [fees]. But they will not tell you about the script and your role.
“The script will be given to you just three days before the shoot. In some cases, you only get the script on the set. These people just want you to come on the set, and [say] the dialogue. They do not care if you fit in the role or not. They do not care if you can give a good performance or not.It just goes to show the industry does not respect actors. This can be very demoralising.
“You begin to question why should you put your heart and soul in your role, when such attitudes exist. All I can do for now is to develop a thick skin, ignore such attitudes and only hope the industry will change for the better."

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