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Familiar Yet New: Insights from the media industry in Kuala Lumpur

Students and lecturers from Diploma in Creative Writing for TV and New Media (DTVM) discovered many perspectives from their tour in the Malaysian capital

Inspired by her pet cat, she came up with an animated series revolving a ‘Ninja Cat’. Motivated by his young children, he created a television show for kids to help them learn about the world. Moved by the people she met in Myanmar, she risked her life to produce a documentary. These were some of the personal stories of the writers and producers who met the group of lecturers and students from DTVM when they were in Kuala Lumpur.


DTVM lecturers and students at the Aljazeera office


Learning outside the classroom

The Creative Writing Study Tour to Kuala Lumpur exposed the group to the many different aspects of the media industry. They learnt about the big players and the small firms. They visited new companies as well as established organisations. They also met the writers of factual stories and fictional worlds.

The tour was an opt-in programme designed especially for the students so that they can see how their lessons lead to media projects in the ‘real world’. The programme covered film, television, news and documentary, all of which are areas in the DTVM curriculum. The 35 students from Year 2 and 3, were accompanied by five lecturers. They packed all that learning in just three days from 7 to 9 September 2015.


The sound-stage at the National Film Development Corporation Malaysia


All about film

Minutes after they touched down, the students headed straight to the


Different surfaces inside the Foley Studio are needed to produce different sounds


 Big ideas for little kids

The group got a totally different adventure when they visited a new company that created and promoted children’s animated programmes. The folks at theLil Critter Workshopshared their ups and downs as a local company hoping to take its ideas to an international audience.


Sharing session by Walid Omar, the Executive Director of Lil Critter Workshop


Rachel Wong said: “They were so passionate about creating and animation and so willing to share with us all their experiences. They were extremely welcoming and very open. Seeing how passionate they were, it really fuelled me to create more.”

Zec Chua felt that he got a good insight into the process of creating an animated series and how the industry and market works.

“It illustrated the need for having high production quality and a distinct look for animation in addition to good characters and story,” he said.


Creating characters

The elements for a good story was one of the many topics covered in a Masterclass on Writing for Animation. The students attended the specially-arranged session conducted by Avant Garde Studios. Besides the creative process of coming up with animated characters, instructor Keeta Brennan shared with the students her personal story of creating, writing and marketing her dream, which scored many successes but also ran into serious problems along the way.


Keeta Brennan, the Creative Director of Avant Garde conduced the Masterclass


Kimberlyn Kiew said: “Previously I was unsure about whether I would actually want to write for animation but after this trip, even after realising how difficult it is, I want to write for it more.

Shantel Neo said: “It was really interesting to see another perspective of writing and hearing their journeys to making their concepts work. And the additional character development bit was really fun as I loved character development and making profiles!”


DTVM students creating animated characters as part of the Masterclass


News and Views 

The final day in KL was spent learning about news and documentary. The first stop was to the new office of Malaysiakini, the web-based news organisation, to learn about non-traditional news reporting, from the perspective of non-mainstream players.


The newsroom at Malaysiakini


Andrew Vimal felt that this was his favourite part of the programme.

He said: “Stepping into a building with people who fought for democratic ideals and press freedom resonates strongly with me.”

For Bernice Pua, she chose the visit to Aljazeera as the best part of the tour because it was “the biggest eye-opener” for her.


“It's very rare to be able to see the office of such a high-profile news network, and to witness the people who risk their lives to simply get a story on air is very refreshing,” she explained.


Aljazeera was the last stop for the group, before they left KL for the airport. The lecturers and students got first-hand accounts from editors and reporters of the international news organisation and gained insights on the editorial policies of a non-western media giant. The, students also got to put on the bullet-proof vest and helmet that the journalists have to put on during dangerous assignments. Some also got to try out the camera equipment. 


Student Drake Law tries on the safety gear for journalists who work in dangerous locations

Student Winnie Goh and the camera used in the Aljazeera studio


With such an exposure of how professionals carry out their duties in the industry, many students said they get to put into perspective what they have learnt in DTVM.

Ryan Goh said: “The different workshops and companies allowed me to really see in depth the processes that go behind the scenes and I'm grateful for the experience.”

The trip has made students think about their options in choosing an internship position as well as what lies ahead for them after they graduate. As one student realised: “I still got a long way to go and learn to be a good writer.”