LUNCHBOX 3 - Ghazi Alqudcy & Ezzam Rahman

A tray-mat created out of Ghazi and Ezzam's images
Thursday, 4 Dec, 8 pm

Ya Kun Kaya Toast, Orchard Central
The 3rd installment of LUNCHBOX is on 2 'big' personalities in the community, Ghazi Alqudcy and Ezzam Rahman. Unlike the previous 2 lunchboxes, this reads like a comedy script.

Jeremy: Okay let’s start.
Ghazi: No make up ah?
Jeremy: I already told you, whatever make up or plastic surgery you want to do, do before this interview.
Elfe: Okay la , let’s start from the beginning… from the day you were born. How was is like when you were small little boys.
Ezzam: Boys! Correction. Girls.

All break out in laughter.

Ezzam: I was born in Alexandra Hospital, the second son in a Malay family. Life was not easy growing. You know la typical Malay family. We lived in a no-room flat in Red-hill. We had no toys. In fact, I made my own toys. Usually, I will play with the things in the kitchen la
Elfe: Masak Masak things.
Ghazi: And wear your mum’s bra.
Ezzam: That one not me ah! (pause) So I use my imagination to make things. Ghazi you?
Ghazi: I grew up in Woodlands. So I knew JB more than Orchard.

Essential Info

Ezzam: You know how we met? (beat) We actually went to the same primary school.
Both: Si Ling Primary School. (laughs and start singing the school song…’S stands for Si Ling…..’)
Elfe: How was primary school like?
Ezzam: We hated each other. I was the prefect and he was a librarian. I was the loud one and he was the quiet one. I was always on stage, also because I was in the choir….Teacher’s day, Children’s day, Thanksgiving Day, I was always there. And he, he was the depressed librarian.
Elfe: Did you have nicknames for each other in Primary School?
Ghazi: Ya, a lot of people called me fatty.
Spot him!
Ezzam: A lot of people called me names because I was effeminate. It was difficult even in secondary school. It hurts you but you just have to lift your head up high. All kinds of names.
Ezzam in his 'Asia Bagus' days as a performer.
Jeremy: So what led you into doing film in the first place?
Ghazi: NS (National Service).
Ezzam: We actually went our separate ways after primary school and met again only in NS.
Ghazi: We were part of the SCDA Special Video Production Unit.
Ezzam: We did videos for the Civil Defence Gallery.
Ghazi: That time I was such an Ah Lian. Oh yeah, got photos right? I bring out.
The 4 of us go gaga over Ghazi’s NS photos.

Ghazi: There came a time I told my officer I needed a replacement. So Ezzam came to interview for the position.
Ezzam: That time I came down and I saw him, I was like, shit. He was wearing tinted contact lenses. So he had purple eyes. Very Ah Lian.

Ghazi: I felt he would fit in easily because we spoke the same language.
Ezzam: So anyway, I joined and he taught me video editing. (pause) You know how he teach video editing? That time we use Adobe Premiere. So he came to me and said: To video edit is like making kueh.

Big laughter.

Ezzam: It’s about putting on the layers. First layer is the tray. Then your image is the second layer, like the pink colour, and your sound is your next layer…… as many layers as possible.
Elfe: So you don’t hate each other after that la.
Ezzam: No we open up to each other a lot then. He lived in Woodlands and I lived in Marsiling, so we took the train home together.
Ghazi: Then later we decided to do a short film. That time we wanted a camera, so we entered the Panasonic Film Fiesta.
Ezzam: I saw a lot of talent in him. And I was willing to support him as a cameraman.
Ghazi: The film turned out quite bad. We never showed it to anyone. The title is ‘Again’.
Ezzam: Then we also took part in the Fly-By-Night Video Challenge.
Ghazi: Pin Pin (from Fly-By-Night) liked our entry and asked us if we could make a whole series and make a box set out of it. But that was to much work haha.

Elfe: Any big plans? Do you want to make longer films? Instead of just shorts?
Ghazi: We don’t really like to make huge plans. We prefer to be spontaneous. Whenever we have a camera, we will just see what we can shoot. Did you watch ‘Miss-A-Shot’? Well, we just wanted to do something again and we don’t like organizing too many people for it. But we just called a female friend of ours.
Ezzam: ‘Miss-A-Shot’ is a story of a transsexual and a straight guy. So I acted as the straight guy (ahem) Ha ha, I know this is sooo wrong! And I was seducing the transsexual. (Beat) Actually, most of our works are unscripted. Sometimes Ghaz still has a script. But when he directs, he will usually just give a summary of the situation and then give the actors some space to express. This can be risky sometimes but sometimes you can capture beautiful things, unexpected moments or things like that.
Jeremy: Do you see yourself more as artists or filmmakers? Or rather how do you brand yourselves?
Ezzam: Gorgeous and pretty.
All: Hahaha.
Ezzam: I definitely recognize myself as an artist.
Ghazi: For me, I am not sure if I can call myself a filmmaker because I have never touched film before but perhaps more in the area of digital film.
Jeremy: So moving forward, do you want to move on to a bigger project?
Ghazi: It’s more like if the need arises in the future and I need $$ and need to work in 7-11. Then I will work in 7-11.
Ezzam: Eh, I worked in 7-11, don’t criticize me!
Elfe: Which 7-11?
Ezzam: Woodgrowth!
Jeremy: Then would you starve for the sake of art?
Ezzam: Well I have been starving for the sake of art.
Jeremy: Define starving.
Ezzam: Well, you know I still work and still have to put food on the table. But whatever extra cash you have, instead of buying luxury items, you give it back to your works.
Elfe: So you are all for your art la.
Ezzam: I have always been that way.
Elfe: So if you do a piece of art, is it to earn money or just for art?
Ghazi: (points to Ezzam) For birthday presents.
Ezzam: You very rude you know! Actually Christmas coming right? I ask myself, which one ah, which one one to give ? haha! Ghazi: Next time, I just come to your gallery and choose myself la.
Ezzam: In fact, there is someone I have been giving my works as presents for the past 10 years, now I can have a solo show in his house!
I can say for Ghaz, years down the road, he will still be in film, maybe commercial or personal. We will still collaborate in the future. In fact, I have recommended a lot of shows for him and seen him soar over the years and I am very proud of him!
(beat) Whenever we collaborate, he is often more the director and I am more the producer.Ghazi: There was once I got a story and I thought it would be really great if Neo Swee Lin can act. Then he really got them.
Ezzam: I just called Boo Junfeng and asked if he has Neo Swee Lin’s number and he said he only have Kay Siu’s number. So I finally got into contact with them and they just said pass them the script…until now still haven give. Lol
Ghazi: It’s just an idea he came up with suddenly.
Ezzam: I work quite fast la.
Jeremy: I would love to work with you then!
Ezzam: Ghaz has really brought me into the film world where I got to know many filmmakers and vice versa, I have also introduced him into the arts world and opportunities for him to screen his works. We will be having a show at the Post-Museum in January. Ghaz will be known as a ‘filmmaker-artist’.
Ghazi: The theme of the show is ‘Quite’, so as a filmmaker, I should not do film, I should other medium like sound or art.
Jeremy: You guys always seem so bright, what are your darker moments like?
Ezzam: Maybe relationships sometimes… I may feel down and sad, then I would just call him and he would say (in a falsetto)’Aiyah, fuck him la, just dump him la’ then he will hang up. Then I will call again and say ‘Can you listen to me’ and he will say (falsetto again) ‘I have enough of this fuck!’. Ghaz is very personal about his love life. He will not share with anyone.
Elfe: Not even with you.
Ezzam: No. (beat) When I notice something has gone wrong, I will just talk to me la. He will say no no no. And we will quarrel about that and not talk to each other for 2 days.
Ghazi: Sometimes, we also have quarrels and not talk to each other for days. There was once we took part in the Panasonic Festival and we got stressed over wanting to do everything properly like planning, storyboarding.
Jeremy: Just off the track, I read somewhere about your alter-egos.... These 2 characters. I wished i watched that.
Ghazi: Ya. Etone and Sasha. We played these 2 characters.
Ezzam: We had people coming to us saying they remember our characters. We had schools coming to us saying they wanted to present our 2 characters in their programs and other types of collaborations.
Elfe: I see, what’s the full name?
Ghazi: Sasha Isabella.
Ezzam: I am Etone Waikkiki. (beat) Half-Hawaiian.

Uncontrollable laughter.

Ghazi: One thing about us is that we are a balance of the emotional and the rational. I am more the rational one and Ezzam is the emotional one. We are very Yin and Yang. Don’t like to think about the past. That’s why when you asked me for old childhood photos , I don’t have many because I already threw them away.
Ezzam: I remember events.

Elfe: Would you continue making films for the rest of your life or do you have other things to do?
Ghazi: For me, I would like to continue making more but bread and butter issues come first.
Ezzam: For me, I am very close to my family, in particular my mum and my siblings. Just to share, I bought a place at the age of 24 so that has created another big burden for me.

Jeremy: I know this question is a little weird in your context because you already made so many controversial films…If you were to make a controversial film what would it be about?
Ezzam: Maybe politics……
Ghazi: You even get the MPs’ names wrong how to do politics?
Ezzam: Can do research ma. … Perhaps about Anwar Ibrahim hehehe. Or Gus Dur from Indonesia.
Ghazi: We don’t really seek to do controversy on purpose. We just take things from our lives like in ‘Transit’, that’s his life.
Ezzam: Thank you ah. (pause) If you watched ‘Mistake’, that’s Ghaz’ life. He will always pose as a girl in chatlines and hope to hook up with handsome guys.
Ghazi: We just take simple things in life and just-over dramatize it.
Elfe: Do you have any obsession?
Jeremy: It can be an object. Like we asked Yew Kwang previously and his was a bra.
Ezzam: As in a bra on a girl?
Jeremy: No just a bra.

Ezzam: (To Ghazi), only one ah, either lubricant or condom.
Ghaz: Maybe a phone. Perhaps it’s got to do with my show on in January next year. It is about chatlines. And I invite people to call into my line for phone sex. I get so many calls, some at 2-3 am in the morning, I get so scared that my mum will pick up the phone.
Elfe: And yours?
Ezzam: Mmmm…. I have a fetish la… A fetish of scissors. I like to cut things. I like to cut my nails, my nostril hair and I like to cut my skin. In fact, I am actually turning my obsession into my work. So this January, I am creating a sculpture out of my own skin from my foot. (beat) When I was in La Salle, we had this class called ‘Perversion’ and we were asked to bring an object of perversion.
Jeremy: You brought skin?
Ezzam: No, I brought a pair of scissors.
Customary group shot: Ghazi, Elfe, Ezzam and Jeremy
Here's more information on them on the web. Ghazi's got a write up on him here. Here's an interview with Ezzam on Artszine. Here is a nice feature of them on another blog owned by the Singapore Malay Filmmakers Society

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