Not content with pretending to be a journalist in the UK, I felt like travelling to the other side of the world to see how much more difficult it would be to pretend to be a journalist there. And so, my training has brought me to the beautiful country of Malaysia, and so far it’s turning out to be pretty damn tough.
A bit of background (feel free to skip): For a Master’s degree, usually you have to write a rather hefty dissertation of around 20,000 words. Thankfully, for the journalism course I am studying, you can instead choose to do a multimedia journalism project made up of a piece of print/online/audio/visual journalism, with 7,000 words of write-up.
So for my project, not wanting to take the sensible (boring) route and doing something based in Brighton, I decided to fly to Kuala Lumpur to film a 20 minute documentary on eminent racial issues in Malaysian society. I have with me around £5,000 worth of filming equipment that the University of Sussex has entrusted in me (for some reason), it’s day four of the trip and I still haven’t used any of it. On the plus side, I have already eaten a lot of really nice rice.
What on earth am I doing? That’s the question that kept me up until 7am last night (thanks, jet lag). Well… there are a number of issues that make this job a lot harder than it would be in the UK. Firstly, there’s the heat. It’s currently around 28 degrees, which doesn’t sound too bad, but it’s also about 90% humidity. This makes lugging around the 14kg of kit, which in the UK is a pain, downright hazardous.
Although my half-Indian-ness (thanks dad!) means that I blend in quite a bit better than a full on Gwai Lo (white person) would, it’s pretty obvious that a 20-something-year-old bloke, wearing a Superman t-shirt, staggering around like a sweaty drunkard, trying to eat frozen yoghurt whilst carrying three massive bags, is going to quite easily become a target. I also don’t have my own transportation. So, unlike in the UK where I could just hop in my car with the kit, go wherever I want and film whatever I felt like… here, there’s a whole load of planning that must take place before I even put the battery in the camera.
So what have I been doing for four days? To be fair, I spent the first two travelling and settling in, but since then most of my time has been spent organising and researching. Why didn’t I do this sooner? Well, pretty much since April I have been overloaded with uni work, freelance stuff and working on my online magazine – www.facelessmagazine.com – yada yada… Even so, I do wish that a few of the hours that I spent drinking cider and watching Mad Men/Game of Thrones back in Brighton were instead used to formulate a solid plan.
It’s not all doom and gloom! By pure coincidence (as it was meant to take place last weekend), tomorrow there will be a protest against the government which, it is rumoured, may be the biggest Malaysia has ever seen. I’ll be there, on the front line of news, trying not to get myself (or, more importantly my £3,500 camera) hit by a tear gas canister of water cannon. Then, next week, there’s the state opening of Parliament, which will no doubt make for some interesting footage also.
As for now, I’m about to go and meet my friend Sharanya, whom I know from my previous life as a sketch/improv comedian. I’ll try to pester her to take me into the city to film the Petronas Towers at night, but what’s more likely is we’ll go out, eat more rice, and maybe watch the new Superman film.
Stay tuned! Video blog coming soon (once I have some footage…).