The dream chaser

Self-taught filmmaker Wan Dinnie is teaching primary school pupils how to create award-winning animation

31 Dec 2020 / 08:53 H.

SOME dreams cannot be forgotten. Wan Zulfadli Ad-Dinnie, better known as Wan Dinnie, is a case in point.

He aspired to be a filmmaker, but did not have the funds to go to film school.

“Everyone kept telling me that there is no stability in being a filmmaker,” said 30-year-old Wan, who was born in Terengganu and grew up in Perak, and who is currently based in Kuching, Sarawak.

Wanting a stable career, he chose to become a teacher. Currently, he is teaching visual arts at Sekolah Kebangsaan Temong, a rural primary school in Serian, Sarawak.

He has not forgotten about his dream to be a filmmaker. To date, he has done more than 30 short films. Some of his works have featured in local and international film festivals and a few of them have won awards and good reviews.

“I love teaching,” he says.

“I love moulding young minds. But filmmaking is my first passion.”

He has also been participating in a government project called Digital Storytelling Animation (Dista) since 2017, where he joined other teachers to teach students in his school how to create animation. Some of the works by his students have been sent to local and international film events.

Recently, one of the animation works under this workshop, Batuh Bijanji (The Promised Stones), won the Best Jury Film Award (Primary School Category) at the Festival de Cinema Escolar de Alvorada in Brazil.

It was his father, an English teacher, who instilled the love for film in his soul.

“My father was a movie addict,” he said.

“He would watch all kinds of films. He also encouraged his five children to learn English from Hollywood movies.”

His father loved buying film books such as Movie Guide by Leonard Maltin and film magazines such as Empire and Total Films.

He said: “I would read them. I think all that reading created a passion in me for films.”

His father also introduced well-known visual artists around the world to his five children.

“He would read to me the life story of Vincent Van Gogh (the impressionist artist) as a bedtime story,” he said.

Like his late father, Wan is slowly exposing the world of film and arts to his five-year-old son, Mohd Hamizan.

“My son just loves watching YouTube videos,” said Wan, who is married to an occupational therapist.

It appears another budding filmmaker is in the making. In the near future, Wan hopes to shoot a short film that will be dedicated to his father, who died of a heart attack in July.

“Right now, the film is in the scripting stage.”

He is a self-taught filmmaker who learned the art of films from books and watching documentaries that feature his favourite film directors speaking about their experience making films.

“For example, from watching Hong Kong action star and director Jackie Chan’s documentary called My Stunts, I learnt how to direct certain action scenes and how to create fake blood,” he said.

He had a fun time reading how a well-known director, the late Stanley Kubrick, loved retaking the same scene so many times to the

point that the actors get frustrated doing the same thing again and again.

The other filmmakers he admires are David Lynch, who is famous for directing Mulholland Drive, and Robert Rodriguez (who is famous for directing El Mariachi.)

In terms of Malaysian films, he is a big fan of James Lee’s thriller Histeria, with actress Liyana Jasmay in the lead role.

“I like the fast cut in the film. The gory scenes look real.”

In terms of animation, he is a big fan of the 1978 animation film The Lord of The Rings under the direction of Ralph Bakshi, followed by George Dunning’s Yellow Submarine, a 1968 British animated musical adventure film inspired by the music of the Beatles.

“I have loved drawing comics since young,” he said.

He thought it would be great to see the comics he has drawn come to life and that is when he started to dabble in the world of animation.

He believes every film, whether it is good or bad, should be considered as art.

“In the West, even bad films have their own set of fans.”

He cited the example of American filmmaker Ed Wood, who was considered the worst director when he started his career in the ‘50s.

“But now, some critics are looking at him differently. They applaud him for his bravery and his persistence for making films with a limited budget and limited resources. Every film is an art.”

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