M’sianspiration is a Malaysian-based weekly series that highlights ordinary Malaysians who have extraordinary goals, lifestyles, and dreams. We hope that these people will inspire you to live extraordinarily. If you know anyone who qualifies, email and let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Most great things are unearthed from humble beginnings. Steven Spielberg, famous as he is now, used to make amateur 8 mm “adventure” films with his friends, charging 25 cents per admission while his sister sold popcorn. Born in 1963, he is now considered one of the most influential filmmakers in the history of cinema.
This week’s M’sianspiration brings you three unlikely Malaysians from three completely different backgrounds trying to make a mark in the world of film-making. Adding all three of them together would result in the same amount of film-making education background as I have: zilch.
Meet The Team!
Ho Wai Zheng (Zheng) graduated from a psychology background and is currently working full time in the printing industry while Ong Joo Ee (Joo) studied engineering and has a Masters degree in Business Administration. Joo is currently in the building (Landscaping) industry. Meanwhile, Michael Sean Tay (Sean) graduated in Sciences with a major in Biotechnology and works full time in events management. “Odd place to be, I know,” Sean said.
“There are three of us core members,” Zheng told Vulcan Post, “Joo typically handles the camera, does our thumbnails and graphics and Sean handles the music aspects of the video and helps with smoothing out the writing. I do the script writing, directing (and acting if needed), vfx and video compositing.” He added that there are many close friends who help them with their production on a constant basis.
“We were 26 when we first started Cognitive Overdose, back in 2012,” he added, “As of right now, we are all 28!”
Cognitive Overdose: Origin Story
“Ever since I managed to get my hands onto a digital camera in high school, I’ve always wanted to shoot videos,” shared Zheng. “I would make small segments of scripted and unscripted videos in hopes of one day being able to market it to a famous television station.” Once he got to college, he took the hobby to the next level by getting himself a camcorder and gathering his friends from high school to make a series.
Unfortunately, this was short-lived. The ambition fizzled out once he graduated and joined the corporate world.
Thankfully, his interest in becoming the next Steven Spielberg was rekindled a few years later. “I finally decided that I would try and revive my passion of video making (especially with the establishment of YouTube), gathered some high school buddies again and got a decent camera and we’ve been filming ever since.
Joo shared that the two of them have been talking about the project a few months prior to shooting their first vidoes. “Our first video didn’t actually make it out of the editing phase,” he stated. “We were supposed to put in a full 3D animated model in a live action scene but that was obviously too ambitious.” After two months of waiting, they scrapped the idea and began to plan the videos within their own areas of expertise.
“Horrible acting skills prevented me from offering to be an actor,” admitted Sean. “So I turned to the one area that I had always had a passion in: music. With only knowledge of guitars and little formal musical training… Lately I’ve been trying to come up with my own original compositions which has allowed me a wider range of sounds.”
Writing, Direction And Cognitive Overdose
When asked about how long it takes for the videos to get from a words on a piece of paper to actual videos on their YouTube channels, Zheng confided that it depends on the deadlines. The closer they are to the deadline, the faster they work. Their “A Cognitive Overdoes Christmas” video for example, had a deadline so the entire video production was filmed and completed in about 20 hours.
“For our longer, more “heavy” vfx oriented videos, I tend to experiment and spend more time on those, so it can range from 1 week to 1 month,” he added. Sean, meanwhile, shared that, “the musical creation process is long and complex and of course, has nothing to do with my capricious nature.”
Joo added that they even have ideas sitting on their idea boards for as long as 2 years, discussing and expanding on the original idea to think about the logistics, capabilities and manpower. “We have some partial and full scripts ready to go, but due to some of these limitations, we sometimes decide to keep it on the back burner while we learn some new techniques.”
“What the heck are you doing?”
“There’s a mixed reaction,” answered Zheng when asked about friend’s and family’s reactions to his ambition, “There are those who are really supportive and there are those who are more, “What the heck are you doing?” but the more we do, the more supportive they get.” Zheng admits that he tries to get his family involved as much as he can, stating “you can never get too much help when filmmaking.”
Sean, meanwhile, is lucky to be supported by his family. “Unfortunately, they have on occasion told me they don’t understand the videos,” he joked, “I chalk this up to the generation gap! I highly doubt that I can even convince them to appear on my videos though!”
Joo joked that while he gets compliments occasionally, others might have seen the videos and are being nice by not saying anything.
Best (And Worst!) Experiences With Cognitive Overdose
“Some of the best experiences while filming I’ve had would be when people actually walk up to us during production and are generally curious about what we do,” Zheng shared. His worst experience involved losing several days of footage from when his hard disk crashed. There’s also the time they accidentally walked into a location previously used by drug addicts. “We met up with another crew filming in the area in the exact same location though, so I guess that experience was actually pretty good!”
Sean enjoys the traveling involved in the filming, “I enjoy driving around town. You should keep an eye out for us!” he told Vulcan Post, “We’re always around somewhere!”
The weather condition can make itself a bother while filming, according to Joo. “It can be hot and sunny, and a couple of hours later, there will be a huge downpour. If you look closely at some of our outdoor shots, it can look a little different between camera changes, but Zheng hides it well,” he adds.
Advice To Our Readers
Zheng wants share he’s learned a lot through his process of self-learning and wants to urge our readers to strive for their dreams, regardless of how impossible they may seem. “You’ll regret more by not chasing after your dreams than actually pursuing them.”
Sean ambitiously wants our readers (that’s you!) to, “Reach for the stars! Don’t let anything, even yourself, stop you from doing what you want to do.”
Joo said, “Know your weak points. Improve on it and if you can’t, work around it.”
Cognitive Overdose as come a long way since their first video in 2012. I’ve been keeping up with their videos and while they may have much to improve on, their videos are entertaining and fun and most importantly, always getting better. A psychologist, a bio-technologist and an engineer working together to become film makers. Who would have thought?