While films gain praise over the amazing performances, incredible shots or smooth scene transitions, none of these can be realized without the impeccable directing of the film maker. For Brunei, Abdul Zainidi identifies himself as a storyteller, but finds a way to express his Bruneian vision through the means of film making, writing and sometimes doing part time acting. This time,we at Sutera were given a pleasant opportunity to interview our very own local film maker who has garnered attention in the international scene.

Abdul Zainidi started out as a frequent actor for RTB (Radio Television Brunei) commercials which he later developed an interest towards the behind-the-scenes of film making. That curiosity led him to seek further studies abroad before returning to shoot his first ever short film ‘Bread Dream’ with the help of his colleagues. The film featured a whimsical side of Brunei which managed to snag a place into the Cannes Short Film Corner. From there, Abdul Zainidi became a videographer and went on to create more Bruneian films like Vanishing Children series, Anggur in Pokland and Teluki.

“For me, the story is more important than how I film it. It’s because nowadays, anybody can film with their mobile phones and what not, but what you’re filming – the content – is ultimately what matters the most,” he said when we asked of his preferred equipment, which is the Canon 7D DSLR. He equates by having the portable camera as the necessity of carrying a passport around in his adventures.

As a testament to Abdul Zainidi’s success, he has been invited to plenty film festivals; notably Cannes Film Festival and the Busan International Film Festival that strengthen his relation with many international film makers. Abdul Zainidi also became the first Bruneian to be selected under the Asian Film Academy as a cinematographer. He commented on how his works are being appreciated due to the eccentric narrative, surrealism, and strangeness while still showcasing the beauty of Brunei Darussalam.

“What I like most about film making is being able to create a world that is quite strange but at the same time shows the unique side of Brunei. I beautify Brunei through my strangeness and I’ve never been cliché about how I look at my country,” he added.

In the earlier days, the local film maker would often face doubters who are skeptical of his work. However, this motivated him to strive forward; growing confident and leaving no regrets from all the hard work he puts into. As a Bruneian film maker, Abdul Zainidi believes in giving back to the people and to develop the slow-growing industry. Whenever he finds time, he could often be seen helping out other local film makers like teaching them the craft of framing, shooting, accompaniment and so on.

As a final note, Abdul Zainidi emphasizes greatly on the importance of continuous learning. Be it language or skills, learning is what he considered to be the most effective way of growing as an individual. He recommends attending workshops such as Film Leaders incubators (FLI), AFA, American Film Showcase to gain the experience needed to mold a film maker.

“You are like a sponge; you have to soak up all the knowledge you can. Even after pushing out my films, I’m still learning and still sharing whatever knowledge I posses with the future film makers of Brunei,” Abdul concluded.

Here at Sutera, we will be featuring more of these talented individuals, whether in film making, music and arts. Stay tuned for our upcoming series!