Please enjoy this transcript of my interview with Gary Chong!
Gary is an award-winning filmmaker and founder of Gary Chong Studios, a production house that has produced over 560+ videos in the last decade for many different brands. Eg. Digi, Axiata, Sunway, Maybank, Allianz Bank, Kraken, Mindshare, and many more. He is a lecturer in the School of Liberal Arts of Taylor’s University here in Malaysia, in the area of Film and Communications for 8 years, and that is how he is giving back to the community.
His newest venture is Micro Film Academy, a disruptive education program that aims to revolutionize and empower content creation in the hands of an upcoming generation through SMEs, businesses, and children.
Norman Chella: [00:00:00] Gary Chong is the filmmaker, the lecturer, and the enabler of content creators. He is the AntiFool.
Welcome to the AntiFool podcast. This is where we deconstruct the wisdom of people from all fields, backgrounds, and walks of life. My role is simple. I play the fool, I ask the questions and you get the answers.
Our guest is the AntiFool: the source of wisdom, who we will learn from today. I’m on a mission to create the antidote to foolishness so we can understand the world and ourselves better. Wonderful stuff, right? So shall we.
Hello there, King Fool, Norm here. Welcome to the show. In this episode, we’ll be talking about filmmaking and the principles behind it and who better to talk about it with than Mr. Gary Chong.
Gary is an award winning filmmaker and founder of Gary Chong Studios, a production house which has produced over 560 videos in the last decade for many different brands. We’re talking Digi, Axiata, Sunway, Maybank, Allianz Bank, Kraken, Mindshare, and many more. Not only that, he is also a lecturer in the School of Liberal Arts of Taylor’s University here in Malaysia, in the area of film of communications for eight years, and that is how he is giving back to the community.
Extremely proficient in the art of filmmaking and the principles behind it. I am really lucky to be able to talk to him to learn more about what he’s doing right now: Micro Film Academy, a disruptive education program which aims to revolutionize and empower content creation in the hands of an upcoming generation through SMEs, businesses, and children. It’s quite a variety of topics that we talked about here in the world of film.
In this episode, we talked about Gary’s story. How he became an award winning filmmaker and making so many commercial films for a wide variety of companies. How the world of film wowed his life, the Micro Film Academy, and what it stands for and the opportunities we have for using the devices that we have right in our pockets and the future.
How do we future proof ourselves through the ways of content creation and preparing for it? Despite recent bleak events, my mind was lit up with all kinds of thoughts talking to Gary. So let’s play the fool and learn from the wise by diving into my chat with Gary Chong of Micro Film Academy. All right, Mr Gary Chong, how are you doing? Welcome to the show.
Gary Chong: [00:02:41] Not too bad. Not too shabby. Thanks for having me.
Norman Chella: [00:02:44] No worries. No worries. Now I was given it, your bio by, your co founder Joel, and first of all, it’s a long bio and not like, not like in a bad way. You’ve done a lot of things, so I really want to uncover that, before we get into the main, shall we say, juice of the conversation, which is MicroFilm Academy.
Before you can even create something like a Microfilm Academy. Gary, I know you’ve had a ton of experience in the world of film, so tell me, how did the world of film, or how did the concept of film enter your life? What is your origin story?
Gary Chong: [00:03:22] Let’s go, man, let’s go tell you what, I’m just going to give you a really interesting story.
Um, I was, I, I still remember from when I was seven years of age and, um, I was an Ipoh boy alright. A small little town of Ipoh. So my father used to bring me to the cinema, once every week. It was a Thursday because that’s when new movies would come out and in Ipoh they didn’t really care about ratings.
18 S G S like, yeah, they didn’t care about that man. So that would bring me to this. It could be a romance, an action film, horror film to whatever I’d watch it. Now I remember distinctly every week, right? I would have different emotions while watching the films for a horror film. I would be afraid I would, I’d cry or cover my face like this, you know?
Um, when it came to an action film, you know, I got really roused up, you know, um, if it’s a revenge flick, you know, I just felt a range of emotions. One day my dad asked me this question, Son, you realize that, uh. It’s actually just a sheet? And I was like, well, what do you mean it’s a sheet? You know? In the cinema, then he brought me to the front and he let me see that.
Literally it was a sheet. The screen was just a sheet. And if you hit behind the sheet, there’s nothing there. And he said, and you know, right, that is all fake. That moment they say, cut, you know, the monsters actually come up out their rubber suits and etc. And I was like, yeah, I do know that. And he was like, so why are you still afraid.
Why do you cry at a movie? Why do you laugh with a film? Why do you feel suspense and feel? And in that moment, or it planted a seed inside of me and that was a fundamental question of, of my life. How in the world is this such a powerful medium? I’ve, you know, I know it’s fake. I know it’s fiction, but yet at the same time it moves me in a way which is not, you know, artsy fartsy avant garde.
It’s literally moving. And so I thought, you know, that must be the most powerful medium in the world. And I grew up, um, supposed to study law, but gave it up to pursue film. So I studied film, uh, in US and Penang, uh, you know, from the degree. Then after the masters, I just love film. It just clicked. So that was origin story.
Film just clicked. It was a language, which I didn’t even have to learn. It was something which was a bit more natural. Then from there, um, I decided, you know what, instead of just consuming film, why not create film? And when I was about 24, 25 years old, eight years, 10 years, back actually, I started just doing short films in university and my lecturer was like,
Hey, you know what? Why don’t we just send these for like awards submissions and stuff like that. I think within two years I had 18 awards to my name for short films and. Yeah. But trust me, back in that time, right. It wasn’t as, uh, a competitive or glamorous per se. Um, so now I, I remember distinctly, so how did I start my career was because one of the short film competitions, one of the judges was actually, um, from a big MNC.
And after the award presentation, he came up to me, he was like, Hey, you know what? I like the way that you actually shot this car. Um, would you want to do a commercial for my car brand? And I was like, sure, man. And he was like, Hey, you know what? A budget’s not going to be too great, you know? Um, yeah, you know, that’s, that’s why I want to give it to you.
And I’m like, Oh yeah, how bad could it be? And it was like, okay. So it’s about 85,000 ringgit for the budget. And in my mind, mind you, I was a student at a time and I was like 85 grand. Yeah, sure, man, let’s do it. And that’s how it starts it. And it just progressed commercials, you know, ad off the ad campaigns from one MNC.
And um, that was 10 years ago from that first project I did, that video came out or the ad came out and then he shared it to his friends and his friends were like, Hey, why don’t we get you to come and do our ads also. And that’s when I was forced to actually open a company. um, their finance department was like, Oh, if you don’t have a legitimate company, we can’t pay you more than 20,000 ringgits sooo, can you just go and scoot over to SSM and open any type of company? And that’s the birth of Gary Chong Studios which. If you visit our website, you can see that you’ve done about 560 videos, I think, in the last nine to 10 years. So yeah, that’s a little bit about my film journey, man. Yeah,
Norman Chella: [00:08:10] There is a lot to unwind here, so we’re going to take this bit by bit.
First of all. 80 80 what? 89,000 ringgit? 85,000 ringgit. So shall we say that’s like 20 something thousand dollars of if converted to USD. That’s a lot of money for a film student already. Could you tell me, I’m not sure if you could even share this, but could you tell me what did you do with the budget? Like was it a matter of one of the, what percentage is used for specific shots?
There’s what is there like a booking for locations and what’s the process behind it?
Gary Chong: [00:08:41] So, to be honest, I guess in filmmaking we have pre production, production, post production.
Um, and when I went to film school, and this is the beautiful about film school, people always think that, you know what, um, you don’t have to go to film school.
You just can learn the trade by going into industry. And I totally agree with that. But the thing is this and I, something I want to highlight. Okay. Um. You know, I think 90% of filmmakers will say like, you don’t need to go to film school because you know what’s the point? You can let it from YouTube, you can just enter into a production house, pick up the trade, and it’s true.
But what you will not learn in the trait is basically how to think outside the box. So at that point, the reason why you said it was going to be a bad budget was because, you know, if I were to subcon it to any other production house, they were probably gonna use 70k, 75k of the budget as costs.
But the thing is that when I went to film school, I learned about the French new wave and how they use literally no budget because it was after World War II. And all the films were actually converted to bombs, and the economy was in tatters, but yet they could still pull off. You know, what a Dolly shot was, what a track shot was, you know, using means of independent filmmaking at that time. So it was more of achieving a film look or cinema in that sense, but we’re not having to say this is the market rate. And I think that model has helped me throughout the years to really just grow. Yeah. That is how basically it is.
Norman Chella: [00:10:13] Okay, interesting. Interesting. So I would, I, I guess I could interpret French new wave to be some sort of independent, scrappy direct film to get that cinematic look without the need for a large amount of, uh, I guess influence, budget wise or, you know, great like other third party factors coming in.
Gary Chong: [00:10:34] I, I think it’s the philosophy behind it though, because more than anything, it’s not about just technique. Uh, but it’s really about the understanding of the philosophy behind it. Because. Well, maybe one of the brilliant things about filmmaking is that it’s a decision making a, like an industry. Basically, you have a problem, you need to come up with a solution. So if you are good, uh, in, in a way where you’re able to, you know, give proper solutions of which, later on we’ll talk about microfilm Academy.
It’s a solution based thing.
I think it’s the philosophy and the spirit of cinema per se. Now, obviously, if you look at it from the other side of the coin, and the reason why I would know all of this and still refreshes because I also moonlight as a film lecturer at Taylor’s Lakeside University. Um, and the reason being, cause I always believe that you need to have one foot in academia because whenever the new techniques or new, uh, kind of thinking or mindsets, it’s good to immerse yourself in the academic discourse because it really helped in applications of the real world.
Norman Chella: [00:11:38] I highly agree with that, especially when you’re in a field where you are neck deep in the industry. I guess taking back to what you said, uh, it is another way of thinking outside the box, not only as someone who is doing the craft, but also if I were to try to articulate this to another, say a student who does not know as much as I do with all the films that I’ve done, how would I go about it? And I guess this opens up to new perspectives.
Has being a lecturer changed the way that you do your films in any way? Has it influenced it in any way?
Gary Chong: [00:12:12] Yeah. Um, the methodology of which I approached, not just filmmaking, but even my clients, um, because in academics, whatever feel of study. You realize that there’s this word which they use ‘methodology’, which is basically what is step one, step two, step three, step four, step five. So in not just the filmmaking industry, I feel, I see in any industry, it could be F&B, it could be property or whatever not.
People tend to follow trends. Um, and when you start asking them, Oh, but why do you do this like this? And they’ll go like, cause everybody’s doing it. Or the thing which I really hate the most. Oh, but that’s the market rate, or that’s how the market does it, which I feel is, it’s nonsensical because if Mark Zuckerberg followed the market rate or how things should have been done, you know, he wouldn’t have started Facebook.
And you have all these big icons in the world who went against the grain. So why is it then that everybody is still stuck within a, but no, we have to do in this way because this is a proper way of doing it. So I’ll give you an example, two examples based on your question. So number one would be, um, I, I bet you’ve heard of this term called storyboarding.
Yes. but putting things into like a little comic strip and that would actually be your, uh, yeah. Yeah. That’s your storyboard. So what I, because most of my clients are actually, um, you know, MNCs or corporations. Now, these guys have no inclination about filmmaking, no inclination about a creative process.
All I know is that, Hey, I have X amount of ringgit, my budget. I need to get it out. If not, the management is going to burn that budget, so I need to use it anyway and needs to get this core messaging out. Now, if I’m going to draw a storyboard now, I have to understand that as as, uh, the, the university or, or academy has actually trained me.
If I’m going to go to them and say, you know what, I don’t care. Here’s a storyboard. Here’s a comic strip. Bring it to your boss and convince him to part ways worth six figures of a budget. Go. He’s gonna, the person is going to go. Okay. All right. This is how it’s done, this is how it’s done. No. So what I do instead is that I actually provide a visual reference or a few visual references, option a, option B, option C, and then once we have a visual reference, because in a story about comic strip, you don’t have the music.
You don’t have the vibe, you don’t have the piecing of the edit, you don’t have the colors coming out. You don’t have basically the soul of the, the final product. So using a visual reference, passing it there. Then all this guy has to do right now in terms of the branding or marketing bring it to the big boss and say, okay, the final bit is going to look like this.
How do you feel? And. Many of times the big boss would be like, Oh yeah, this was great. Yes. Or they’ll choose option B, let’s just go with it. And that becomes the spine or how we actually build something. But you know, people I know, not just in industry, but a lot of, uh, yeah, artistic people would frown upon it, like, no, that’s not the way to do it.
Once again, who said so? And even if that person said, so, put him with a multinational client who is a bank, for example, or a hotel, go and, you know. Yeah. So who’s gonna? How’s it gonna work? And so even coming back to, okay, that was like the client like I was seeing. And then give you an example of, you know, what about the creative process?
I gave you an example. Now today they have, we have a program called Cine Tracer, which we kind of use in the studio also. If you’ve ever played an unreal engine, PS4, game or PC game, and think of it like Minecraft, but you know, uh, with an unreal engine and you’re able to create sets. We have lighting and creating the props and positioning people and stuff like that.
So technology is there, but if you don’t adapt to it, and you’re always going to be that, that, that guy who was like, Oh no, this is not the way it is. This is a dilution of the art.
Norman Chella: [00:16:07] I love the, uh, I love the, potential voice impression with dilution of the art. As a lecturer then, now that you have this example where you had to go against the grain to convince someone outside of the industry to part ways of six figures of, you know, their budget. Is it difficult trying to teach that to your students when they’re in an environment when they are expected to go and follow the curriculum, but you as the lecturer half responsibility and teaching them not only what is on paper, but also what is on the field, which is what you have firsthand experience with.
Maybe it’s a very difficult question to answer, but I’m just curious. What are some of the barriers in trying to teach your students things like this?
Gary Chong: [00:16:49] I think as a lecturer, the main job that I have is to connect the dots for the students. No, I’m not. I’m not saying, uh, you know, handing them information on a silver platter or you know, like, uh, yeah, I’m empowering them now. Why do I connect the dots? Because they don’t know the dots. That’s the issue. They just know the end destination.
I think it’s down to every student where. You know that, okay, at the end of this entire thing, you’re gonna get a degree or you’re going to get some form of acknowledgement of your efforts. But the question is that, okay what is the dot from here to here, to here, to here, to here, to here, to here?
They don’t know that. And to be honest, I feel a lot, I think a majority of people, once they graduate, and when you ask them, Hey, so, uh, when you studied what was, what were the dots? And they’ll go, Hey, you know, man, I don’t know. And, and that’s the problem. But, but having said that, right, just to pivot a little bit from your question and circle back, but when you see a lot of adults, it feels like a very funny cycle because once adults reach their late thirties, early forties all of a sudden they’re reading everyday because Richard Branson told them, read a book every single day.
Or you know, Tony Robbins is like, you read, read, just read a book. And they’ll, they’ll have all these kinds of videos where it’s like, Oh, we really read a book. As a student, all you had to do were literally read books. So connect the dots. Coming back to as a lecturer. Is it tough? I don’t think so because it’s the art of communication, isn’t it?
If I can connect the dots or you from here to here and what’s effective. That’s good enough. Now it’s your choice then on whether to change your mindset or not. To be very honest right. I’m not lecturing for the money cause it’s, uh, it’s really more of my, I, I used to, I like to call it my service to the nation in that sense because, um, yeah, it’s, it’s a, it’s a good pocket, money change at a side.
But to be honest, it’s really about impacting the students. And I have so many students who, no, this is my ninth year lecturing. Um, I have students who are now DPs in LA. You know, they are directors of photography’s in LA, even some of them are YouTubers in Malaysia like the current DP for Jinnyboy TV, Ryan was my, uh, you know, student and so, a lot of. agency people now also, were are my students. But basically it’s, it’s really in viewing that mindset, Hey, you don’t have to follow the status quo. You don’t have to be part of the hurt mentality. Yeah. But breakout and you do you technically, yup.
Norman Chella: [00:19:25] I liked that. I really liked that. Uh, you go out of your own way, uh, to help someone break away from, like you said, herd mentality, but not only that, take a step further and say, Hey, pursue your own version of what a film career would be.
Or a how, uh, their interpretation of film can impact them. Make the most of that. And I, I do agree, uh, that contributing back to well, not only the meeting, but maybe the field or the industry that you are part of is one way of not only a form of a, shall we say, gratitude. Uh, but. Also, it does give you dividends, not only money-wise.
We don’t really care about the money. We’re not talking about the money right now, but more like a on who you are as a person in terms of character. Now that we have an amazing, shall we say, a really good summary? I would call it a summary cause you’re still creating many more videos, uh, films, sorry. Uh, all the way until now.
You are giving back to the community of film in many different ways and one of them is well, is called Microfilm Academy. Can you break down the name for me? What is Microfilm Academy? What is microfilm?
Gary Chong: [00:20:31] So to break down what is microfilm, it is not the future. It is now. Basically the Microfilm Academy, we believe totally that this little device right now, a smart phone is not just meant for consumption in the front, but you can send it around and is meant for creation. Okay. Let me give you a little bit of a backstory. I said how this entire thing started so you can actually see that. All right, so. Okay. I want to ask you, Norman, like, do you realize, I mean, okay. Do you have any nephews, nieces, or any kids around you in your life yet?
Norman Chella: [00:21:05] What a great coincidence you asked this. I got a WhatsApp message from my mom. Like an hour ago, my cousin’s son was just born, so, Oh, wow. Yeah. So yeah. Um, so yeah, I do have nephews. I do have nephews. Indeed.
Gary Chong: [00:21:22] Oh, that’s super interesting.
All right. And now whenever we hang out with children, or not even children right, teenagers, youth, kids. So nowadays you realize that they’ll always on their phone just watching something. Yeah. Different age groups have different kind of, uh, you know, consumption patterns, right? So you have to watch Peppa Pig, Paw Patrol, and all these stuff, and, or if you’re a bit older, you’re down on Instagram or YouTube videos, Facebook, whatever.
So the question is this: okay? Now that’s on the one side and I just want to paint that thing on one side. All right. Yeah. So what happened when I started seeing this, uh, and I discussed with my co founders, Adrian and Joel. I was like, Hey guys, you know what? There’s a huge disconnect, why? There’s this problem here with kids.
Then at the same time, I’m looking at SMEs and businesses and you know, like I go for the MNCs, I go for the corporations who have to burn their budgets anyways, so thank you so much. That’s how, um, you know, I, I’ve built. My wealth and then et cetera. But I’m talking about the coffee shop down the road, right?
Which, you know, is started by two friends who have little to no savings. So how then do they afford to make videos? Why can’t they just use their phone and shoot it? And to be honest, right? If it was so easy, every single person would have been doing it and we would have a flood of businesses shooting their own stuff.
But it doesn’t happen. So that’s the reality of things. Then on the other side, we have Samsung, we have Apple, you know, showing off, right? How great the hardware, software is, and I’m going to give you some proof. If you head to Netflix right now, there is a movie playing called High Flying Bird. Oh, that movie was there acted by Steven Sonnenberg who did Ocean’s 11 okay.
So very popular director. He shot the entire film on an iPhone eight so the thing is that when you watch the trailer, you would. You can’t believe it’s all shot on one single iPhone and wow, you’re not talking about iPhone X, the X S, or the 11. You’re talking about the symbol iPhone 8. So, an entire feature film shot on an iPhone eight and I bet you would also be seeing this when the iPhone 11 came out, there was a ton of short films which rolled out.
That people, Oh man, it’s cinematic. It’s amazing. Wonderful we see millions of ringgit being put into banners and as stuff talking about how great the cameras are in terms of the hardware and the software. So now we have the hardware and software to not just shoot, but edit an entire film. Yeah. But at the same time, we have this problem statement here.
So why is it that from here, we are not connecting the dots to reach here? Why are people not adopting it as what it should be outside of doing TikTok videos or, uh, you know, the odd selfie, uh, or Insta live? Because the education is missing. Because when you look at education in any sphere. This is what happens.
There are the film schools like Taylor’s Lakeside of which I am lecturing in, which says that, Hey, you know what? You have to go through the entire program. You have to understand film of its nuances and et cetera. Then you have, um, I don’t want to mince my words, but I feel like these are media practitioners who are out for a quick buck.
Let me teach you how to use smartphones to do filmmaking. Yay. Wonderful. It’s easy, which is good. But the problem I feel, and there’s a huge gap, a vacuum even in the education sector, is that, Hey, if I’m a business and I run a coffee shop, like I don’t want to just learn how a smart, how to shoot it with smartphone because I can learn how to shoot, but how do I apply that to help my business?
And if I’m a child and if I’m a parent of a child right now. I can send my kids to ballet, I can send them to, um, you know, piano classes. I can send them to coding classes. Great. Wonderful. But, you know, I want to ask you a question Norman. Did you grow up letting the piano or you know, any type of co-curriculum thing, which your parents, put you through?
Norman Chella: [00:25:24] Uh, what my parents put me through, I learned, uh, instrumental guitar. So classical guitar, that is definitely. One thing that I did yeah.
Gary Chong: [00:25:32] Great. Wonderful. Are you a classical guitarist in the Philharmonic?
Norman Chella: [00:25:37] Uh, no. I am not. No. I am a hobbyist. I do play it still, but it is only for my own, shall we say, my own desire to play it so.
Gary Chong: [00:25:45] Yeah. Great, wonderful. And this is the thing though, it’s not just you.
99.9% of the people out there who are learning classical guitar or any kind of rock school or Yamaha exam or whatever not. Yes, they got a degree. They might even not just be ingrained in their diplomas. What did they do after that? They just teach and you know, there’s only a very small percentile which we should can actually use this to make a living for themselves.
But let me bring you to an alternate route. If you, Norman studied classical guitar at a young age, and let’s just call this person Paul and Paul took the MFA program, grade one, grade eight in terms of a filmmaking course, and you grew up together. Now, when it comes to time for you to, to go into university to get a job, okay.
You can play your guitar. I mean, I’m not, I don’t, I’m putting down to classical guitar, but it’d be, I’m just doing a comparison. Yeah. You can play your guitar and basically whoever is going to be on the other side watching you play the guitar, they’re like, Oh, okay, that’s great. You can play the guitar, or you get this guy Paul who gets to shoot and he knows how to shoot a one minute biopic of himself. Instead of doing an interview, and sends this to the university admissions office receives that and sees in 60 seconds.
Who is Paul? Immediately there is value proposition. And let’s talk about jobs. Imagine if you are in any job, could be banking, it could be telcos, could be even selling cars, but you tell your boss, I have an extra ability where I’m able to shoot videos, create films, all using this smartphone boss and I can create an unlimited amount of content every single day.
You know, for you, that’s value proposition. Can you give me a raise? What is it? What’s it gonna say? Hmm. Uh, the budget for that freelance videographer. You know what, I’m going to give it to you because I can dictate how many videos you can do, and because I don’t have to wait for footage, et cetera. So now that person’s life has changed.
Oh, let’s talk even then about the businesses. Let me give you an example of, I said the coffee shop down the road, right? So every business, every SME, we have our own pain points and challenges, and I, and the MFA, honestly feel that video, especially in microfilm making, is able to plug in all these challenges.
Just so let me give you a little bit of an example. Now, you might think when we talk about microfilm making’s only about marketing, getting promos out there. That’s true, but what about the other side of things in an F&B outlet? Could be anything, coffee shops, steak house, whatever. You have to train people right.
Step one, step two, step three, step four, step five, and it takes a week. It takes two weeks to train new staff. My question is that, um, if you want to teach a new staff how to actually make coffee, and according to the SOPs and protocols of your establishment, why don’t you just shoot step one, step two, step three, step four, step five, put it on an internal WhatsApp group, and they can always refer to it first?
And even the more experienced baristas can go, wait a minute, how many ounces was that skim milk again? Let me whip out my phone. Ah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, I did. This is how it is right. Now. Then you would free up the business owner for that one to two weeks instead of training. You can then develop this business in so many other ways, like getting on a call with Norman Chella.
Norman Chella: [00:29:12] I’ve got to say that’s a quite a large value proposition if you’re on a call with me, but I see, I see your point. It’s great because it does take away resources, time and effort from manually trying to say, train your employees when you could just send them like.
You know, maybe like a shared Google drive full of videos where it’s like, Hey, this is how you do this. This is how you do that. This is how you do this. You can automate a lot of that. especially for a lot of the logistics concerning trying to bring people in. So you said way beyond marketing, like there, there are also other parts of say, a business way beyond marketing.
I’m seeing like a couple of other things. Say on your website there’s like testimonials as well. So I guess another way to, shall we say, humanize the business.
Gary Chong: [00:29:54] Yes,
Norman Chella: [00:29:54] Film, is definitely the best medium for that because you have all the nonverbal cues, the audio and the video, and maybe, I’m not sure text wise, but still the entirety of the film you have up, you can put a face right to the interactions between the business, so I can see how that is useful.
When you were trying to pitch this to companies, are businesses or SMEs, um, were they, did they have any worries about trying to dive into microfilm?
Gary Chong: [00:30:21] Oh, no man, they were actually really, uh, you know, into it. Um, okay, so just to let you know how we operate. We actually have two products within MFAs, because MFA actually has two divisions, the SME and the children’s education.
So let’s put children’s education aside for a moment. All right? Let’s talk about SME. So within SME, we have two products. One, we call it the come to us workshop, and number two the go to your workshop. Now to come to this workshop is basically. Let’s, once again FNB, we take FNB, but you must only fall within the pocket of the F&B industry.
Meaning if you are a self, uh, made owner of a kind of a smaller establishment, you don’t own a franchise or, or you know, you’re not like a Starbucks and McDonald’s because that’s F&B too, right? That’s a huge industry. So just that small pocket where you know you are a small community owner, neighborhood. Um, you probably put in about 200 or 300,000 ringgit so you know, there are some demographics which fit together and you come for our come to us workshops. Just two days, two full days. Um, and we will teach you from A to Z. And we’ll even write brainstorm for you: what are your pain points?
And your pain points because we put an industry, which you guys are so close into, you will have five pain points, which it will be the same thing. It could be in different variations, but at its core, it’s the same thing. And from these five, we’ll give you five templates of videos to put it as solution and you will write it a script, you will produce and shoot that video and you’ll edit the video in the two days and at the end when your red carpet time comes about, you can have a video for yourself, but you can bring it back and you can shoot 365 videos a year or even more so than that.
Okay. The second product is the Go to you workshop. So imagine if right now you’re an insurance firm and you go like, Hey, you know what? All the products of my insurance that agencies have seen, but people don’t understand the value that our team can bring out there because we do this, this, this, this.
Hey, why don’t we come over to you, analyze your business model and see how can we create your signature style of videos? Yeah. Plenty of problems, statements, and every single one of them microfilm can actually solve. And why do we use it so microfilm? Because. You know, film once again, also, it’s the industry as a huge spectrum, right?
Feature films. You have commercials. Um, but microfilms are basically, you know, it doesn’t matter whether it’s 3 minutes, it’s 20 minutes, 30 seconds. See that’s the beauty of, it’s up to you. And what do we do? You come in as kind of a consultant base where we don’t just teach you, we empower you, and we even have a followup service after that to make sure that you’re on the right track.
And you know, um, this is one interesting thing that, uh, I think everybody’s trying to, to do right now. Everybody wants to be a point of authority of something. This is a bit of advertising speak, but if right now I say chocolate drink, Norman, what do you think? Like any, correct? Yes. Milo. Exactly. You can brain fart out and there’s an association there.
Now if you say Feng Shui in Malaysia, Norman just brain fart what comes to your mind.
Norman Chella: [00:33:51] Uh, Oh, I can’t think of a brand by bread like that. Or like the first person. Uh Oh God. Oh God. Yeah. I don’t know much about Feng Shui, so I can’t really tell. The only thing I know is that you can’t, what? Have the mirror facing you or something like that or something about it facing East.
Gary Chong: [00:34:09] Have you heard of Joey Yap for example?
Norman Chella: [00:34:11] Oh, yes. Yes, yes. I have. Yeah, I have. I have.
Gary Chong: [00:34:14] So now this is a thing, and then you brain fart stuff out, right? It’s because over time you would have seen something in, you know, uh. An ancillary space, meaning you watch a video of his, you watch an interview or of law or whatever it is, and all of a sudden, right?
Feng Shui. Uh, I only know Joey Yap. That’s it. I don’t know what he does. I might not even know how he looks like, but I know his name. Correct. So my question is that, Hey, if you’re an insurance guy, well even if you’re a property guy, right? Like I don’t know about you, but when people say, okay, brain fart, insurance guy, go. In Malaysia. I’ll be like. Wow.
Okay. That’s, that’s a tough one. So that, that’s, that’s what I’m trying to say, is that there’s just so much space to be dominated that you see, and to be honest, right? If you’re going to get a freelancer or you’re gonna get a video graphic team or you’re gonna get campaign team, it’s going to cost you a lot of money.
And you know, like. Gary Vaynerchuk. Gary V famously said, you know, he shot like 200 episodes of his wine show before he got any traction. So, I mean, yes, you can go down that route, but, well, if you don’t have parents who are moneybags, you know, or you don’t have a huge, uh, family business to, to propel you forward, then why don’t you just use something which is in your pocket?
Norman Chella: [00:35:30] It’s the accessibility is probably one of the biggest advantages here, because you most likely have a smartphone in your pocket or a tablet, or you know, a device with a camera. Oh, maybe if you have a spare camera lying around which I do. Um, but for the average person or business owner, or maybe someone who wants to, taking back to the example where you have someone trying to start a career, they could make a video in conjunction with them starting their careers or graduate, at uni or something like that. They can stand out already because they’re using what is what they are using in their pocket, which is fascinating.
Right. I. Want to jump ship to the children’s education aspect as well, because I think I want to know about why you decided to do that as well as the SME thing. So could you tell me how is, how is the program different for teaching children and is there anything hard about doing that in the first place?
Gary Chong: [00:36:25] Okay, great. Thank you, man. It was a great question actually. Difference in children. Well, the thing is this, when we’re targeting children, are we really targeting children? Or are we targeting the parents of children? Because this. Um, let me, let me give you a little bit of a walkthrough also. All right. So if Norman, imagine for a moment, you and I are parents and we have two children each.
Okay? I have two daughters, and you have one daughter and one son, and we’re sitting over tea. And we’re just having a discussion and we talk about not just the tuition, but we talk about, you know, what are some of the activities which we let our kids do. And I tell you, do you know what Norman. It was Father’s Day last week, and my son and daughter and my two daughters actually, had, um, had an assignment in the MFA thing where they had to shoot a two minute father’s day video.
My gosh. I feel so loved and I’m so proud
Norman Chella: [00:37:28] as as a parent listening, uh, I would probably either feel FOMO or I would at least at the very least, be intrigued as to why. Maybe as a parent, you’re letting your kids learn about film or go to a course about film or go to MFA. So, yeah, keep going. Keep going. What else? What else should I know.
Gary Chong: [00:37:46] So then after that, then you, you, Norman will kind of be like, really?
Oh, that’s great. Can I see the videos? And I let you watch it. You know whether it is great or not? It doesn’t matter. I am a proud father and I tell it to you some more. Do you know what, um, you know, last month we went to Switzerland, um, and Norman, you’ll see it like, yeah, I mean, yeah, I saw the Facebook photos.
Did you know that their class assignment during MFA was to shoot, right a vlog, documenting the trip? And, Oh my gosh, check this out. So now if fast forward to the night and all of a sudden every parent is a fricking competitive Asian parent, and as you learn classical guitar, you’re gonna, you know, let your kids learn classical guitar or classical piano, and they’re going to take your guitar and be, and I’m going to do a duet, right?
All of a sudden it’s my kid’s turn. I’m going to say like, you know what? Let’s show them what, how our Switzerland trip was, and all of a sudden they’re playing this awesome travel video where my daughter, you know, a seven year old girl is going to like, now we are in Switzerland. Oh my gosh. That’s a horse daddy.
And at the same time, they learn because, okay. I mean, I’m just giving you excerpts from our syllabus, but these are real world tangible assignments which we are going to be giving. Um, and at the same time, right. They will have to learn. For example, when we watch this Switzerland video, we can ask them, okay, so can you do a little bit of a documentary from your Switzerland travel vlog about the food in Switzerland. What is this food? So they have to go and research all of this, by the way, is it was developed by my co founder who is a lecturer for many, many years. Senior lecturer from, uh, Australia to a local university, and now it’s a one of the top private universities in Malaysia.
And basically, you’re right, you know, we’ve spent a lot just days, months but wow. It’s like a huge amount of time just developing syllabuses like this. So that, that is just what I’m trying to get at and people are talking about IR4.0 people are talking about, you know, uh, the digital age. Why are we not equipping our children for this is something which I don’t understand, you know.
Yes, we can jump on digital platforms, but Hey man, this is total digitalization. I don’t know about you, but if the culture of my children to create something and stimulate their brains and develop and be more inquisitive and critical, rather than just be, I just want to watch cartoons on my phone and if not, I’m going to cry.
Which is the reality of things now, isn’t it?
Norman Chella: [00:40:26] Yeah. As you can mainly observe and a large percentage of, well, younger generations who are probably subject to these addicting devices, because let’s face it, smart phones are incredibly addictive. They are designed to be so, but, uh, and that’s, that’s what’s fascinating about this children’s education program is that you are changing the definition that a kid would have of a smartphone.
From something to consume to something that they can create with. And I guess it’s like the closest parallel thing I can think of is, I guess when we were young kids, we would have uh paper and crayons and we’d be drawing like all kinds of things.
And that’s, you know, a large self expression of ourselves. And it’s an attempt at us exploring the images in us and observing the things around us. But to redefined the usage of the smartphone from something that you can just watch cartoons from to something that you can say, Hey, uh, I want to grow up as a kid creating things just like how I would draw a drawing.
Interesting. I mean, they look bad, but you know, it’s fun. We like them. We’re parents, you know, that sort of thing. Uh, on paper, but to create film that way. I think that’s, that’s probably the largest selling point. I will look at that microfilm program more as like a growth course, right? Like more like a how to teach your kids to be creators, not consumers. That’s sort of probably the underlying thing. And I guess your, your, uh, your, your partner the senior lecturer would, uh, have a lot to say about that. I’m sure he would have tons to have a perspective to share his perspective. Maybe I can ask him sometime.
Gary Chong: [00:42:00] Yeah, you should man.
Norman Chella: [00:42:03] Can, can I can, I can run. I’ve got it. If you could just introduce me, I can probably just reach out to him.
But on the note of IR 4.0, so to clarify. We are talking about the Industrial Revolution 4.0 right. Uh, for the sake of our dear friends, the audience and the listeners, I’m going to play the fool and ask you what is IR4.0?
Why should I care?
Gary Chong: [00:42:23] All right. Okay. Now, human progress in our modern day, human progress has actually gone through a few series of industrial revolutions, right? So if you study history, you’ll know, that at different seasons and different ages of, um, uh, humankind, which actually propel forward. Because of different industries.
Now IR 4.0 revolves very much on the digital side of things because of the boom of the internet. It has created kind of a pseudo matrix kind of world. We can’t live without the internet right?
You know, um, the situation that we in this year 2020, with COVID 19, Malaysian MCO and also various lockdowns, quarantines all around the world.
Uh, we are not just encouraged, we are actually forced to enter into the digital sphere. Yeah. And enter into the digital sphere, even having this conversation, um, that, that you’re watching right now be, that’s being recorded, uh, over a digital sphere. That is gonna the, this is a time of where we are not just at infancy, we are pushed off the cliff.
So as it gains momentum being pushed off the cliff, it becomes an avalanche. You wouldn’t want to be one of those people where you’d turn around and you go like, wait, wait a minute. What happened? So IR4.0 really is about a push into the digital space in so many variations from eCommerce, E learning to E, whatever that is, IRF 4.0. So yeah, In a not so academic definition, but just to break it down.
Norman Chella: [00:43:58] Of course, we can definitely do a huge deep dive on IR 4.0 and I, I’m a huge nerd on that aspect. I, I would read up about it once in a while. So, uh, and one accessible and not so shall we say, intimate, intimidating way is to learn about creation like through films, through, uh, using the device that you already have right now, which is evidence of IR4.0 like it’s actual, like physical evidence.
Like this is the thing that will be revolving, that I’ll be revolving my life around or my day to day routine around this smartphone in my pocket. So when my kids go through that same experience, or would I want to provide them. Um, shall we say a more enriching, greater opportunity for self development, for growth, uh, to mature into creators, uh, as opposed to, uh, the sheep that follow trends, uh, like you would say, other than the MFA program.
Uh, is there any advice you would like to give to those who are now a little bit more aware of IR4.0, how can we better prepare for it?
Gary Chong: [00:45:01] Right. I think the first thing we need to do is break our mindsets. Um, I always believe in the breaking the status quo, not because of the love of chaos, but really because.
What is status quo in the first place, right? This is how things are supposed to be. This is how things were, is, you know, and will be that mentality. It’s a comforting thought because although the human brain is flexible, but it gives us a sort of comfort zone that we’re in. I think the advice that I would like to give is break out of that comfort zone.
I mean, to plug it a little bit back. If you’re a parent, I think it’s your responsibility to really equip or give a platform for your kids to really maximize, uh, not just learning curve, but development in this IR4.0 kind of situation, but for yourself also, as you can see, you know, I, I think there’s a lot of smack being talked about TikToker,s Instagrammers, YouTubers, you know, I highly admire them.
Can I be them? Well. Maybe not because of the personalities here, which I have, but the fact is that I salute them and admire them for taking that step forward. And so every time there is a sort of hate being given or critique or criticism, uh, I think just just to put it out there, maybe it’s more of a mirror of the inadequacies of oneself, um, that you know, we are not willing to change and pivot.
Well try. If you don’t try, you’ll never know. So yeah.
Norman Chella: [00:46:33] And if you don’t try, you will never know. And if you don’t try, it will be too late. Once you have realized that you are falling behind, especially in changing times which are being accelerated by, uh, this outbreak, uh, though I know that talking about such a large shock event like that would be a little bit bleak, but it is also a chance for opportunity.
So I really do respect that you are basically helping others accelerate their growth, uh, through film. Which is pretty awesome. Like, I mean, it was to be something that I would totally watch all the time. Now, Gary, I have two small segments near the end of this chat for you. One is called mementos. So could you tell me, do you have a memento that you either carry around with you or you have in your house that represents who you are?
Gary Chong: [00:47:23] Wow. Okay. That’s a very interesting question. Which, uh, it didn’t, um, you know, forsee. Okay. So let’s say I’m a mentor. It’s a little bit of a memory trinket, right? Yes. Well, I would reckon it’s my wedding ring because if I don’t really bring it around, my wife will kill me. So that if she’s going to watch this, you know, I think that that will be not just a safe answer.
I mean, what’s the point of going to IR4.0 and everything if I’m not alive tomorrow. Right? Yeah. So.
Norman Chella: [00:47:57] Oh yes, a big tip. Please stay alive for IR4.0. More things are going to be really exciting. So, alright, cool. Yes, a wedding ring.
Indeed a great memento. And the other segment would be something what I call walkaway wisdom. So say that we walk away from this conversation right now and I connect to someone, I interact with somebody and I get to know them and we’d become friends and become more intimate.
And I share with them a part of my life and part of my life is this conversation right now. Is there a piece of wisdom then I could tell them that represents who you are?
Gary Chong: [00:48:31] All right? Everybody’s a filmmaker.
Every bloody 7 billion people on the planet, 7 billion filmmakers all around because everybody has a voice.
Everybody has their own story. Everybody has their own background. Everybody has something to say which can move another person. All we need to do is understand that film is not difficult, film’s merely a medium. Like painting, like writing, like dancing, whatever it is. Everybody’s a filmmaker. So I think the advice that probably you could tell that person that you’re going to bump into is that you know what? Break the mindset that you’re not a filmmaker and just do it, man.
Norman Chella: [00:49:10] And of course. An emphasis on the maker part of filmmaker. And since film is, well, one of the best mediums ever, uh, to exist where it has all the cues, it has all the different ranges of emotion that we can feel as we experience it. I’m sure that Gary, you on this journey to teach other people about the world of film as well as through Microfilm Academy and as on your responsibility as a lecturer. I wish you all the best on that, and I will always, uh, be the one to share that kind of wisdom with everybody I know. Now, Gary, if our listeners would like to reach out to you for more about film, about microfilm and anything else, how do we do that? How do we reach out to you?
Gary Chong: [00:49:53] Alright. Great. So, um, yeah, I have a website called microfilm academy.com. All right. Um, or you can reach out to our Facebook, right. Instagram pages, micro film Academy, uh, of which then if you’d like to reach out to either myself, Adrian, or Joel, our founders. Yeah. Just drop us a message and, and, um, you know, our team will actually relate to us.
Um, any queries that you might have. Whether you’re an SME or whether you’re a parent with a child who now you feel a responsibility to kind of extend to a more future proof environment. Um, yeah. Yeah. Micro film Academy.
Norman Chella: [00:50:31] And always on a journey to future proof ourselves as well as our children. It will be very good and you can always reach out to Gary for that.
Links too all the social media for Microfilm Academy as well as the website itself will be in the show notes to this episode. Gary, thank you so much and I’ll talk to you soon.
Gary Chong: [00:50:47] Thanks Norman for having me. Alright, ciao ciao.
Norman Chella: [00:50:51] And that is it. My chat with Gary Chong, esteemed filmmaker and to co founder of Microfilm Academy. He is a great person to talk to, huge on self-introspection not only on the medium of film, but the principles behind it, the actual opportunities for growth, not only in children, but on those who are willing to prepare for the future. Future-proofing themselves and on the incoming IR 4.0.
Honestly, IR4.0, I feel like it is here right now. It’s more of a question of. Are you ready for it? Are you ready to be a creator rather than a consumer? Well, because of our chat, I’m sure that maybe that’s something for you to think about. I learned a lot from this conversation. Gary is a great person to talk to. As you can tell from his candor, he’s quite the a lecturer who willing to teach, willing to inform, who willing to empower, willing to inspire not only through the medium of film, but also through his thoughts, his voice. So I hope that you enjoyed that too, because I sure did. And if you did, and try and do this in your own spare time. Watch a movie and try to figure out why they made those certain shots. At what point does the scene make you feel a certain emotion and more be a little bit more introspective and aware as to how they make a movie in the first place.
And you might be able to learn something there. And if all is well, I wish you the best on your amazing filmmaking journey. Stay warm, stay lovely, and I will see you in the next episode. Your foolish friend. Norm.
Thank you for listening to the show. AntiFool is hosted, produced and edited by me, Norman Chella.
You can find out more about the show at, thatsthenorm.com/antifool. It’s where I host all my other podcasts shows and more. The music and sound effects come from zapsplat.com. If you have any questions, recommendations for guests and more hit me up on Twitter @NormanChella or on LinkedIn as well.
There is only one of me in the world. I’m sure you can find me there. I love connecting with people and having warm, meaningful conversations. Don’t be foolish. Alright, cheers.