As they would say so themselves, it all started with the love of transforming imagination into film. And some imagination they must have because the people behind GRIM FILM aka Pojoo Sim, Jared Lee, and Roy Ajong have landed themselves a sweet spot in the Top 10 BMW Shorties 2012 finalists. We hear it’s not their first time sitting in the midst of some of Malaysia’s most talented filmmakers either.

So, while we patiently await the gala awards night for this year’s BMW Shorties (slated to happen on Thursday, 20th December 2012), we stole Jared Lee away for a quick chat. Let’s find out what went on behind the production of the short film that has garnered so much love and attention, “Sincerely, The End“:

Hi Jared! Let’s talk a little bit about the short film. What was the thought process behind picking out the cast?

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“My cinematographer thought that she (Marianne Tan) was pretty. Honest! And just so happens that my producer, Pojoo, was in her art group. So, we got in contact with her and we met her before deciding on casting her. It turns out that she’s one of the most serious and most hardworking cast member that I’ve ever had in my entire career of filmmaking.”

How did you and your team conceptualize “Sincerely, The End”? As in, what was the story line inspired by?

“First and foremost, we wanted to merge art and film. Because of that, we came up with the Post-its idea – and this was even before the concept of using helium balloons. We needed a ‘magic moment’. We were like, okay, there has to be a point where a ‘magic moment’ takes place which will make her change her mind about killing herself. There has to be a ‘magic moment’! Haha!”

We loved the location that you used though – it was perfect for the said, “magic moment”!

“Yes, the location was perfect. We spend time trying to recce for an abandoned building. And the scene in which the ‘magic moment’ was shot is located on the sixth floor of the abandoned building – if anyone fell down the gaping holes at the sides of the floor, he or she might die. Seriously.”

And while we’re still on the topic of the ‘magic moment’, here’s our burning question – how many helium balloons did you guys use for that one scene?

“Ah. The ‘magic moment’ scene was quite risky because it was all done in one take. We had about 800 helium balloons that came up to a sum of about RM2,500. That’s RM2,500 flying away, quite literally. Hence, we had to be very careful about the scene. And they made me call it while we were shooting it! It was really scary because we had to take so many things into consideration – the wind, especially. I had to keep ‘testing’ the wind with helium balloons.”

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Oh, ouch. Now, how is that character at the end of the story (played by fellow Malaysian YouTuber Joseph Germani) related to Marianne’s character?

“Joseph’s character is basically someone else who committed suicide in the very same place, who understood what Marianne was going through, but was trying to stop Marianne from taking her own life. And once he was done. the Grim Reaper came to take him away, to ‘cross over’.”

Grim Reaper? Is that the same one that appeared in “The Visit”, the one featuring Malaysian beatboxer Shawn Lee?

“Yes! If you looked closely enough you’ll realize that it’s the same Grim Reaper. Alright, here’s the truth, I’ve actually been writing a web series centered around this concept. That will be released..hopefully by next year.”

Yes, we realized. And yes, a lot of your work are centered around the idea of death. Is that in any way related to any real life experiences?

“Hmm. We’ve always wanted a strong message at the end of our short films. Sorta like..’and the moral of the story is’ – but we didn’t want it to seem cheesy. The short films that we’ve produced aren’t directly related to our real life experiences per se but we’ve been getting a lot of feedback from our Facebook page and YouTube channel. People have been leaving comments to express their gratitude and thanks for our short films. I guess it’s safe to say that our short films have successfully reached out to people out there who are depressed and I’m glad we’ve helped them.”

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Pray tell, how long did the pre-production, production, and post-production of “Sincerely, The End” take?

“I would say that among all the short films that we’ve worked on so far, this was definitely the toughest. The conceptualizing took us approximately one month, the pre-production went on for about two weeks, and the shoot took about two to three days – oh, we thought the shoot would take only about two days but the sun went down too quickly on the second day. So we had to go back again for the third day. And finally, the post-production..the editing process took the longest. We edited the video over and over and over for more than a week. Then we stopped. And then we went back into it, argued about it..we had so many versions! All I know is that we kept editing it.”

But it was worth it though – BMW Shorties 2012 finalist and all. Alright, last one for the road!  If you were to win the 2013 BMW Shorties, what would you do with the RM75,000 grant?

“(pauses) I’ve got so many stories to tell, with too little budget. It’ll be great because we’ve been planning on doing so many things. For example, our feature film. It’s something that GRIM FILM has been wanting to work on for the longest time.”

You know what though, Jared? We’ve got our fingers (and toes) crossed for you! Thank you for taking time off to speak to us. And we’ll definitely see you at the 2012 BMW Shorties awards night 20th December 2012 (Thurday)!

For more information on the 2012 BMW Shorties Top 10 finalists, hit this up.

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Eats, sleeps, & breathes music, but drinks mostly coffee & okay, some wine - sometimes, a little too much. A little too obsessed with the number seven, is deathly afraid of horror movies, believes that she writes better than she speaks, & currently feeling a little strange writing a profile about herself.