Entrepreneur

Their Movie Made RM30 Mil In 2019, Here Is A Crucial Factor Behind This Studio's Success

2019 was a fairly good year for movies. We had a few sequels and standalone movies that were outstanding. We had the Avengers: Endgame, Joker, Parasite, and Frozen 2 to name a few.

But, the local movie scene did not disappoint either. In a review by The Star, three of their top five local movies were animated movies, BoBoiBoy Movie 2, Upin & Ipin: Keris Siamang Tunggal and last year’s #1 movie in the local box office—Ejen Ali: The Movie.

Ejen Ali: The Movie was Malaysia’s top-grossing local movie for 2019, and it raked in over RM30 million since its release. This puts the movie in the 3rd place of Malaysia’s best-selling local film after Munafik 2 and Hantu Kak Limah.

Starting out as a TV show, Ejen Ali’s stories revolve around a teenage boy, Ali, who had his world turned upside down as he was recruited as a spy in the fictional city of Cyberaya—an ode to the nation’s smart city of Cyberjaya.

The Result Of A Life Built In Cyberjaya

Ejen Ali is the brainchild of Usamah Zaid, the founder of WAU Animation. As a graduate of MMU Cyberjaya, he chose to start his business in Cyberjaya thanks to a 2-year incubator programme with MDEC, which is based in the smart city too.

An animator hard at work animating Ejen Ali / Image Credit: Cyberjaya

By then, his studio partners and employees were already based around Cyberjaya, and it made sense to stay close to MDEC, even after graduating from the programme because of the connections and facilities they offered.

And they’re not the only animation studio based in that location. Usamah believes that the presence of other major animation companies has been a benefit as well. 

Despite being competitors, the working environment in Cyberjaya enabled them to meet up often, share ideas and pointers with each other, fostering a sense of camaraderie between them.

“Personally, I’ve definitely benefited from learning how other studios run their business.”

Being near to his old MMU stomping grounds, it allowed him to have easier access to the talents coming out from there as well. Usamah, as a proven success story of his alma mater, shows that MMU is capable of producing competent and skilled talent in the Digital Creative industry. 

Some of the earliest hires for the company were students from MMU and 30% of their team members were graduates of the university too.

Building A Name For WAU Animation

In 2014 when WAU Animation was just starting out and had no name, Cyberview (a Tech Hub Developer, spearheading the development of Cyberjaya), hosted an interview session for animation teams with the media and that helped them massively.

Cyberview also puts in the effort to promote the animation scene; WAU Animation and other animation companies are often featured on billboards, promo videos and events.

Usamah, in the middle of the cast of voice actors for Ejen Ali / Image Credit: WAU Animation

Not only that, but WAU Animation also have access to facilities and technology that’s modern and state of the art. These are all the instruments required to produce animation materials that are on par with global standards.  

While the rise of the internet and social media helped with the growth and notability of the company, he said that the government’s support had been vital too. 

Usamah also believes that Cyberjaya has a wonderful atmosphere. 

I love how Cyberjaya is not hectic. It’s modern, yet calm. You have a lot of room to breathe, yet plenty of activities you can do. I think it’s a very conducive place to get inspired.

Usamah Zaid, Founder of WAU on the atmosphere of Cyberjaya

How Real-Life Cyberjaya Influenced Fictional Cyberaya

In Ejen Ali, the fictional Cyberaya is technologically advanced and high-tech gadgets were used in daily life. Usamah Zaid said that when they were world-building, they didn’t want to just settle with a simple contemporary setting. 

They wanted to build a world that was futuristic and their fictional Cyberaya was actually a homage to the real-life Cyberjaya, as they see the real township becoming more technologically advanced. It’s also the closest thing in real life depicting a futuristic lifestyle. 

Get To Know Cyberjaya: Did you know it’s been 23 years since it was launched as the nucleus of the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) development? In fact, they’ve recently celebrated their anniversary last month too.

Also known as the Capital of Creation, its geographical layout has a lot to do with how Cyberview approaches innovation. Cyberjaya is divided into 4 dynamic zones and in the South district, is where 3 emerging tech clusters are anchored—Smart Mobility, Smart Healthcare, and Digital Creative.

The four zones of Cyberjaya / Image Credit: Cyberjaya

Get To Know Cyberjaya: Smart Mobility features companies that are looking for ways to improve the way we travel. They’re also looking at innovations for MaaS (Mobility as a Service) and they’re also building EV and AV (Electric and Autonomous Vehicles).

Smart Healthcare features companies that look at improving healthcare, our well-being and our quality of life. Leveraging on the bountiful talent of nearby universities, they look to improve on current technology through telemedicine, and R&D through IoT (Internet of Things).

Digital Creative houses companies that are focusing on delivering creative solutions. Here you can find companies developing games, 2D and 3D animation, Virtual Reality, and esports.

Besides being technologically advanced, people often think that Cyberjaya is far from the city. Although quite a commute from the city centre, Usamah says this is not a problem.

“Cyberjaya is very accessible with the MEX and ELITE highways. Another popular misconception I think is people saying how bare Cyberjaya is and that there’s nothing there. It is true maybe 10–15 years ago, but Cyberjaya has developed a lot since then.”

Cyberjaya is now home to some of Malaysia’s most recognisable brands such as Ejen Ali and a host of other tech MNCs in the same area.

Smart Healthcare and Smart Mobility / Image Credit: Cyberjaya

The Launchpad For Creatives

Aside from the benefits that Usamah has mentioned, Cyberjaya is an ideal location to start your company, thanks to a robust and holistic tech ecosystem that is the backbone of the city.

They come equipped with attractive incentives, have quick access to a wide variety of talents, and just listed above, they have a high concentration of tech-based companies too.

Cyberjaya is also home to a large number of startups and they also offer easy access for governmental bodies such as MDEC and MaGIC, along with a host of other benefits for startups such as accelerator programmes, mentorship, and co-working spaces.

Are you a startup looking for a launchpad? Pilot your solutions in Cyberjaya and sign up for the Cyberview Living Lab Accelerator Programme (CLLA) today. Closing date is 30 June 2020. Hurry!

We also asked Usamah if a company should look to relocate to Cyberjaya and he said this: “If it suits your industry, come join the fun.”

The team of co-founders of WAU Animation at the premier of Ejen Ali: The Movie / Image Credit: WAU Animation

He also had some choice advice for some of the up-and-coming animators: “If you’re serious, be sure to start with a good company. Being in the wrong environment can be detrimental to your passion. This is why I chose Cyberjaya.”

  • Find out more about Cyberview here.
  • For more info on WAU Animation, click here.
  • If you require help with setting up your business in Cyberjaya or would like to grow your investment in the smart city, contact the Cyberjaya Investment & Services Centre (CISC), located in RekaScape. You can also call/WhatsApp +603-8750 5170 or email cisc@cyberview.com.my.
  • You can also follow them on Instagram @CyberjayaBuzz and @CyberviewMY

Featured Image Credit: WAU Animation

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