Friday, Aug 23, 2019

Mostly Cloudy, 72 °F

Malaysia location filming

Universiti Teknologi MARA student Ezzat Hakimi worked with Ohio University students Greg Mezey and Gretchen Kessler on the camera team for the School of Media Arts and Studies' short film, "Home for Hari Raya," shot in Shah Alam, Malaysia.

Photo courtesy of: Frederick Lewis

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International and out-of-state productions highlight film screening

More than 75 students from Ohio University’s School of Media Arts & Studies will finally see their hard work pay off when their four short films debut on screen. “Home for Hari Raya,” “Asleep in the Deep,” “Monhegan Light” and “Julie in the FunHouse” will premiere Saturday, April 27, at Mitchell Auditorium in Seigfred Hall at 7 p.m.

The screening is free and open to the public.

One of the four films, “Home For Hari Raya,” is the result of a cross-cultural collaboration and is the first international production effort by students from the School of Media Arts & Studies. Fourteen students traveled to Malaysia with associate professor Frederick Lewis from Dec. 15 through Jan. 9, immersing themselves in the culture of the region before, during and after their visit.

Many of them prepared for their experience in Malaysia by taking a Malaysian culture seminar with Tun Abdul Razak Chair Habibah Ashari of Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM). The students raised more than $3,000 and contributed their own travel expenses to fund the film.

While in Malaysia, students worked in cooperation with UiTM during their stay, joining forces with 12 students from UiTM’s School of Film, Theater and Animation on location. The dozen UiTM students assisted with lighting, casting and art direction and rented a kampung (village) house, which served as the film’s primary set location.

“Home for Hari Raya” is based on a short story written by Robert Raymer, an American expatriate and writer from Ohio. Raymer currently lives in Borneo and gave Lewis permission to turn his story into a movie. Raymer worked with the director/screenwriter of the movie, William Holzer, to make sure every detail in the screenplay was culturally correct.

Lewis developed the idea for an international collaboration and designed the project as a study abroad program for his students in MDIA 4719. He had prior experience in Malaysia and always wanted to travel back to the country.

“I had taught an education abroad program in Malaysia several years ago where students adapted short stories from Malaysian literature into screenplays,” said Lewis. “I causally mentioned to a student that it would be nice to go back someday to actually shoot a film there. Students started talking and then a student came to me and said that there was a real interest in filming there.”

Two other films featured in the MDIA 4719 screening mark a milestone for the school: This was the first time that two film projects were produced completely or largely out of state in the same school year. “Asleep in the Deep” was shot in Tennessee and “Monhegan Light” was produced in Maine.

“Asleep In the Deep,” based on a short story by Arthur P. Davis, was shot over OHIO’s spring break in and around Nashville. The film is the first MDIA 4719 project to feature singing performances. Auditions were held in Nashville last November.

“The film is a folktale of sorts,” said Lewis. “It’s about a man who engages in singing match with the devil. The students raised $16,000 to pay for their film.”

Nineteen other students spent a week on Maine’s Monhegan Island to shoot “Monhegan Light,” adapted from a story by Pulitzer Prize winner Richard Russo. The story revolves around a man who receives a nude painting of his recently deceased wife in the mail. When he learns that the artist was his late wife’s lover for 10 summers, he journeys to Monhegan Island, where he is forced to see his late wife through the eyes of another man.

A fourth film, “Julie in the FunHouse,” based on a short story by Jincy Willet and shot on the outskirts of Athens, involves a man who must return to his childhood home to deal with the recent murder of his sister—by her young children.