Short film submission “Add M to Life” emerges Malaysian winner in regional competition
Kuala Lumpur, 3 October 2023 – Lazada’s Proj. Add to Life film competition concluded today with the filmic debut of “Add M to Life” by 24-year-old student and aspiring filmmaker, Rubathinesh Nair. The film was the best of 45 entries that answered the open call in June, making it the Malaysian winner of the regional competition, which took place throughout Southeast Asia in countries where Lazada is based including Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Singapore.
Initially submitted as a story concept, “Add M to Life” won the hearts of the panel of esteemed judges with a charming story about new neighbours whose relationship is fraught with misunderstandings, as they learn to embrace life’s intricacies and discover the true essence of living. As they go through many magical moments together, they discover that every morning, mistake, and moment they have encountered – every M – was meaningful to them. The film won production funding of up to USD50,000 (approximately RM230,000), and was then developed under the guidance and invaluable mentorship of acclaimed and local film industry leaders under the Directors Think Tank.
Irene Cheah, Lazada Malaysia’s Chief Marketing Officer highlighted that the Proj. Add to Life initiative is an effort by Lazada to empower the creative talents of Malaysia’s aspiring filmmakers. The pioneer eCommerce platform aims to help enable Malaysian youth to pursue their passion in the arts and film, as well as craft deeper, richer, and more meaningful stories about Malaysia such as about our culture, beliefs, and way of life.
“Lazada has always endeavoured to be more than just an eCommerce platform; we intend to be a bridge that connects consumers with their passions, desires, and aspirations. When shoppers add to cart, they are also effectively adding to life the things that are meaningful to them. Proj. Add to Life is our way of allowing young consumers, budding filmmakers, and creative visionaries to share their unique interpretations of what ‘Add to Life’ means to them, while giving them the opportunity to add creativity to their life by expressing themselves through film,” she said.
Maurice Noone, co-founder and film director at Directors Think Tank, who was also a mentor and judge for the competition said, “Fostering young talent has always been a priority for Directors Think Tank and we applaud Lazada’s efforts in creating this platform for young, aspiring filmmakers. What we liked most about the Rubathinesh’s winning script was the approach he proposed, which was a little bit more theatrical than a conventional film. We are really proud to do our part for the next generation of filmmakers and were excited to help Ruba realise his vision. There is no doubt that the creativity and talent showcased by our younger generation is awe-inspiring and I’m optimistic for the future of the film industry, especially in Malaysia.”
Bringing M to Life
With the support and feedback of Directors Think Tank, Rubathinesh further developed his ideas about this heart-warming tale of boy meets girl with a theatrical twist on the conventional love story. “Add M to Life” was then filmed under the guidance of Benedict Lazaroo, one of Directors Think Tank’s producers and a short film enthusiast.
The journey to bring this script to life was a 3-week endeavour – from pre-production to assembling the team comprising the Director of Photography, Art Director, Wardrobe Stylist, and Actors. Filming was an intense, three-day affair, with locations set in an apartment, a café in Bukit Bintang, and a street in the Pudu Area. Shot using anamorphic lenses, the film is set to music in a cinematic style. A drone was even used to capture a particular sequence on the balcony.
“It was important that it was Ruba’s vision that was captured, and not lost in the production process. We made sure to stay true to the spirit of the script as much as possible to create something engaging and memorable,” said Benedict.
“Being able to create this short film with Lazada was once-in-a-lifetime opportunity I had never imagined was possible for young filmmakers like me. Through this competition, I was able to explore the limits of my storytelling and experiment conveying a simple story to the audience in a unique way. More than the opportunity, it was the learning experience that I cherished, as this chance could be a springboard for me to further pursue a career in filmmaking,” said Rubathinesh Nair.