A real global effort

10 Mar 2016 / 16:32 H.

THEY say that too many cooks spoil the broth. But that does not seem to be the case at Detroit-based film production company CollabFeature.
Its latest project, Train Station, which is currently making its rounds in several international film festivals, involved a total of 40 filmmakers from 25 countries taking turns at the helm.
This film is likely to set a new Guinness World Record for the most directors in one film beating the current record holder, another CollabFeature project The Owner, which was helmed by 25 filmmakers.
Train Station follows a single character, known only as ‘A Person in Brown’, as the character goes on a journey to major cities in the world such as Tehran, Berlin, Athens, Newcastle, Chicago, Dubai, Barcelona, Mumbai and even Kuala Lumpur.
A Person in Brown is played by 40 actors of various ages, gender, ethnicity and sexual orientation in the 40 different segments of the film.
Along the journey, the character is presented with choices that trigger different paths, giving us a universal story of fate, decisions and destiny.
Among the 40 filmmakers involved in Train Station, two are Malaysians – Tony Pietra Arjuna and Isazaly Isa – who handled the Malaysian segment of the film.>
Tony is both producer and director while Isazaly is producer and co-writer.
Recently, I was given a chance to watch the full movie. Initially, I thought I would get confused with the character switching from male to female and from one race to another. Thankfully, the film was easy to follow.
The opening scene shows a man at a train station who learns that his train might not arrive because of a terrible accident down the line. As the movie progresses, some segments show the character deciding to wait for the train while other segments show the character leaving the station and heading for home.
But each of the character’s choice and journey is filled with memorable events and people.
In one scene, the character gets robbed while walking home. In another, he enters his house and finds out his spouse is unfaithful.
The Malaysian segment opens with A Person in Brown (played by actress Annie Too) at a riverbank. She has just killed her unfaithful husband and her lover.
Their bodies are wrapped in black plastic bags, which she is trying to dump into the river.
At another part of the river, she sees a man (Michael Chen) also dumping some black plastic bags in the river. Seeing her having difficulty with her bags, he comes to her aid.
The man later asks her out for coffee at a restaurant. As the two of them begin to get comfortable, she spots a policeman walking into the restaurant.
The story for this segment is written by Isazaly, who first got involved in Train Station back in 2011. At the time, he was intrigued by CollabFeature’s setup after hearing about The Owner.
He recalls: “I was curious how they [CollabFeature] got so many directors from different parts of the world working together on one feature film through the internet and without meeting anyone face to face.”
Isazaly visited CollabFeature’s website, and when he heard they were beginning work on Train Station, he pitched his story idea on a forum, which was later approved.
Sadly, Isazaly had to pull out from the project. “I had pending deadlines for many other film projects,” he says. “I had also just become a father and I wanted to spend more time with my daughter.”
His place was taken over by Tony, who was impressed by Isazaly’s initial story and decided to keep it, with a few minor tweaks. Isazaly says he is extremely pleased with the end result.
Now, he and Tony are planning to have Train Station screened in Malaysia. As Tony explains, “if you want different cultures in one film, this is the one you have to see”.


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