RM70k Microbudget Feature asks RM1 million question: Why can’t Ah
Bengs and Bananas just get along?
In upcoming micro-budget independent feature “In Between Floors”, actors Alvin Wong 王竣 (SME, Time FM, Di Sini Ada Hantu) and Dawn Cheong (Cuak, I Eat KL) put a humorous spin on the age-old conflict between English educated Chinese (Bananas) and their Chinese Educated counterparts (the Ah Bengs).
In the film, Wong and Cheong play an Ah Beng, KENTH, and a Banana, SHARON, who find themselves unexpectedly trapped in an elevator together. With their only lifeline to the outside world a gonzo security guard, Kenth and Sharon are forced to interact with each other in an effort to survive the encounter without the walls closing in on them, to hilarious results. !
Produced by Quack Concepts Sdn Bhd in association with AC Creations Media and Popiah Pictures, “In Between Floors” follows in the tradition of microbudget features like Rodriguez’s “El Mariachi” and Rodrigo Cortes’ “Buried”. Cast and crew shot the 90 minute digital feature film in a recordbreaking four days at a single location, on a shoestring budget of RM70,000.
With dialogue in English and Cantonese (and a smattering of Manglish), the film attempts to break new ground by eschewing the traditional microbudget genres of horror and thriller and going in the direction of a dramatic comedy.
The film is the directorial debut of screenwriter Bernice Low, who draws on her experiences writing for Malaysian television comedies “Kopitiam” and “Getting Together” to imprint a distinctly Malaysian flavour into the film. It represents a culmination of Low’s own attempt to better understand the cultural divide between the “Bananas” and “Mangos”, the latter being the politically correct term for Chinese Educated Chinese. She also wanted to explore the subtle cultural discrimination that goes between the two groups, but without necessarily making the piece a dry intellectual diatribe. The result, she hopes, is a comedy that provokes some thought, amongst the laughs.
In casting for the role of Kenth and Sharon, the “Ah Beng” and “Banana” who find themselves trapped in the elevator together, the producers sought out Malaysian actors who could handle the dialogue-intense script whilst having a measure of cultural familiarity with the stereotype they were playing. 2012 Golden Horse Best Supporting Actor winner and star of popular local sitcom Small Mission Enterprise Alvin Wong was approached for the role of Kenth as the talented versatile actor comfortably straddles the worlds of English, Bahasa and Chinese television and features. Wong has also dabbled in theatre, appearing in a staging of Samuel Beckett’s play Endgame in 2008. Wong was excited by the opportunity to appear in a mainly English language feature, whilst bringing his own brand of ‘Beng-ology’ to the equation.
The producers set their eye on theatre actress and Malaysian indie feature darling, Dawn Cheong, for the role of the intellectually superior Banana, Sharon Tong. Educated in New Zealand from the age of 8, Cheong had the requisite foreign-accented English to effortlessly portray Sharon Tong, whilst also being a quintessential Banana in her own right. Her extensive experience in theatre and Butoh dancing were particularly useful as the actors had to initially rehearse in a bare version of the set, in effect, a wooden box.
“In Between Floors” was lensed on Sony’s cutting-edge PMW-F55 CineAlta™ 4K digital camera, which was loaned to the producers by Sony’s Professional Solutions Asia Pacific Company. The production also received support from Nokia Malaysia, in the form of the latest Lumia phones, Nando’s Malaysia, who fed the crew whilst Permanis Revive kept the production crew hydrated and energized. Wardrobe for Alvin Wong and Dawn Cheong came courtesy of Puma and Charles and Keith. The film opens on November 27, 2014 and will screen exclusively on GSC International Screens at GSC Mid Valley, GSC 1 Utama, GSC Pavilion KL and GSC Gurney Plaza.
IN BETWEEN FLOORS, a Film by Bernice Low. Starring Alvin Wong, Dawn Cheong and Chew Kin Wah. Special Appearance by Serena C. Art Director: William Tian. Director of Photography: Wan Chun Hung. Associate Producer: Emily Man. Consulting Producer: Anne Low. Executive Producers: Kionz Chan & Lucas Ang. Written and Directed by Bernice Low.
For more information, visit www.inbetweenfloors2014.com or https://www.facebook.com/inbetweenfloors2014