Interview: Jannah Monjiat

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By: Valerie Oliveiro

The Substation’s First Take films are back. Come 2 March, Jannah Monjiat’s film entitled Uncleboy will be screened alongside other local short films. We catch up with Jannah.

We were intrigued by the title – what does Uncleboy refer to? The answer is who, not what. Jannah explains, “Uncleboy is not some story that we made up out of thin air, it is based on a true story! His full name is Christopher Victor Manuel, an uncle of assistant producer Lionel Paul Dorai.”

Believe it or not, the story idea spawned while the team was at McDonalds! “Lionel brought up the story of his uncle who was semi-paralyzed after a fall from the 3rd floor. What moved us was how a man so passionate about life succumbed to alcohol addiction for several years.”

Inspired by Christopher’s life story, they followed him around for 5 days. “Basically, a very normal daily life, like everyone else!” she piques.

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Fast Facts (as told by Jannah)

Pre-production: “We interviewed him on his daily routine, his pastimes, his fears/hopes, alcohol addiction and his relationship with his family and friends.”

Filming: “Took about 5 days! Filming 5 days straight starting from 10am till 10pm daily but Uncleboy usually wakes up at noon so, we had time to sit around and eat first!”

Post-production: “Went by so quickly that I don’t actually remember it!”

“We had time to create an adaptation of Uncleboy – a Malay version called Boboy, which was a short film starred Yusri and friend, Asrari Nasir in it. Call us crazy but we definitely enjoyed dedicating it for Uncleboy! The whole DVD too was filled with features like music video of Uncleboy singing to Sean Kingston’s Beautiful Girls and will.I.am’s I got it from my momma!” – Jannah Monjiat

The big challenge, however, was… “to complete a 3-minute segment for Channel NewsAsia’s I, Journalist! Lionel and I were juggling phone calls from the Producers for filming/post schedules.

To quote from Uncleboy: “Tell the truth and shame the Devil.”

All-time favourite part was… “when Uncleboy was super drunk that day and how scared to death I was when Uncleboy just won’t shut up. Oh, I could still remember so well that he called me ‘Cockroach’ that day! (Laughs)

The drunken dude kept singing and talking all the way till 11pm! He kept going up and down to visit his neighbor on the 9th floor to get his guitar back so that he could sing us something, blasting the radio late at night and singing country songs along with us (obviously we didn’t know any of the words).

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In Dec, the First Take audience will vote for their favourite film. If you won, you would…?

Give it all to Uncleboy. After all, the audience must love him for him and not because of some fantastic production/post-production magic! If we succeed means Uncleboy had his audience paid attention to his story.

5 things about Jannah:

  1. I watch Breakfast at Tiffany’s every Saturday night without fail!
  2. Loves Fashion Magazines, Celeb Gossips, Home Decors blogs, Fashion blogs, Facebook, Audrey Hepburn, French macarons and Ice Mountain water.
  3. Loves doing makan nights with her league of brilliant people while sharing crazy new ideas every now and then
  4. Finds peace and joy in producing/organizing crazy production schedules, budgets, callsheets, etc for Films/TV/Events productions. Yes, all the hassle is love!
  5. Spends 24/7 with her partner, Yusri on everything under the sun – from production to design to music to sexier topics like gadgets and deep spiritual matters.

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Uncleboy will be screened at The Substation on 2 March, 8pm as part of First Take March.

Read our interview with Vignes as he shares about his film, No ten dollars ride, which will be showcased too.

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