WOW- What a breathtaking location scout to Bintan. Bintan is a popular Beach Resort destination for Singaporeans and tourist from around the world. It’s known for its miles and miles of beachfront, tranquil waters, and a warm and welcoming resort staff.
It is extremely rare for travelers to venture past the beautiful resort community, and close to unheard of for western filmmakers to bypass the amenities of the island in search of a more traditional rural lifestyle. Upon our arrival at Bandar Bentan Telani (BBT) Ferry Terminal, Terminal Manager Rusli Mahmood took more then a sincere interest in our inquiries of a local fishing village he became one of the chief administrators in organizing our excursion to Kawal, a secluded fishing village on the eastern coast of Bintan island. Kawal is adjacent to Trikora Beach, labeled on the below map image. This was the beginning of our journey in Bintan where on every corner we were met with hospitality and courtesy.
Alternative Ferry Route from Singapore to Bintan's capital city Tanjung Pinang. The BBT Ferry Terminal is a more effecient way to getting to our final destination, the fishing village of Kawal.
From L to R - Anon, JC, Rusli, Basil - having lunch at a local food center. Here we devised a game plan to survey the region and secure production locations.
Memed one of our five guides sits with Basil as he enjoys the local cuisine.
AFTER LUNCH Rusli arranged for us to travel south to the capital city of Tanjung Pinang where we met with the Director of Bintan Tourism Sapril Sembiring, from there it was amazing how our script, our vision, our production came to life. As producer on the film I feel it is my responsibility to provide the necessary location, equipment and environment for my director to surpass his own expectations. With the support of Sapril and Bintan Tourism there is no doubt that we will redefine filming in this region.
Driving through Tanjung Pinang to the village of Kawal.
FROM A PRODUCTION MANAGEMENT perspective one of the clear challenges of this amazing location was the weather conditions. Sapril advised us of the local monsoon season arriving in November 2008 and continuing through March 2009. Although WEIRD FISH calls for several rain scenarios, we cannot afford for our production to stall for more then 24-hours. We are currently in the process of fast tracking WEIRD FISH, moving the start production date from December 15th, 2008 to a 5-7 day period between October 27th and November 9th, 2008. This will be solidified by the end of the week.
Even scattered rain in August can drastically change conditions on the island Bintan. Production concern #1.
A local fisherman is unable to work due to poor weather conditions.
Basil took several photographs documenting the environment that he intends to capture on film. Watching him photograph the village I observed both his enthusiasm for the project and his attention to detail.
Kawal felt like a Universal Studios back lot built especially for our production.
Unable to fish, villagers attend to the maintenance on their homes positioned on stilts above the water.
I would like to end this report by expressing my sincere gratitude to the villagers, the artist community and local government of Bintan. We were fortunate enough to take part in several of Bintan’s National Day celebrations held one week prior to Bintan’s National Day August 17th and one week after. We were able to meet several local filmmakers and artist and gain their support for our project. We attended a stunning display of young performance arts at the Gawai Seni VI (Arts Event VI) celebration were Basil and myself were privileged to meet the Mayor of Tanjung Pinang Ms. Suryatati A. Manan.
The following day lighting struck twice and we were fortunate to meet the Bintan Head of Regency Mr. Ansar Ahmad.
Their acknowledgement and support for our project has convinced me that our production, despite any obstacles, will be successful.
Youth performers at Gawai Seni VI (Arts Event VI) celebration.
Local Filmmaker/Director Fai and Basil pose for a picture at the outdoor screening of Fai's latest film Are Nak jadi Kampong Kite (What Will Happen In Our Village)?
H. Nai Marsu, a member of Parliment, takes Sapril (front), Basil and myself (rear) for a ride in his 4 wheel jeep. His car was a indeed a special attaction at the Water Events National Day Celebration.
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