Category Archives: film

The launch of my latest book is this Sunday,17th August 2104, 2:30pm, at MPH, Nu Sentral (KL Sentral).

The launch of my latest book is this Sunday, 2:30pm, at MPH, Nu Sentral (KL Sentral).

You better come!! It’s an awesome non-fiction graphic novel about my adventures shooting a documentary in war-torn Afghanistan! It’s also a sweeeeettt collaboration with my bosom buddy Arif Rafhan Othman!

We’ll be there with a show for you guys!!! And signings… and photo-taking… and flirting… and wild, wild, passionate mingling!! Buy our book and exclusive merchandise on that day!

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Title: Adventures of a KL-ite in Afghanistan
Genre: Non-fiction graphic novel
Venue: MPH Nu Sentral (KL Sentral)
Time: 2:30pm, Sunday, 17th August 2014

Video journalism basics – storytelling with no words or just with a single shot

The police and fire department are all over the site.

Video journalism is all about visual storytelling. It is annoying to see video reports that is obviously just a voice-over with a bunch of visuals dumped over it that makes no sense. The best way really is to not have an voice-over, because if you do have it, it just means your visuals can’t do the storytelling for you.’s Matt Allard, who used to live in Kuala Lumpur as a cameraman with Al-Jazeera, makes this point in a video documentary he shot recently about a knife making expert in Taiwan called Maestro Wu. No voice-over… not even an interview soundbite.

There is also a technique known as the ‘one-shot’, where a news story is done in just a single shot on the camera with no editing cuts. This one is even more of a challenge, but when done right, it can give quite an impact. Best suited for a solo-journalist, if I do say so.

Sometimes people forget the basics when it comes to video storytelling. If you keep things simple, a lot can be said. Below is a story I did about the Empire Shopping centre blast in Subang a while back. No voice-over but I had an interview though to explain a little bit of facts.

And another one I did… on the demolition of the historical Pudu Jail in the heart of Kuala Lumpur.


Solo-journalists are intimate creatures!

zan flirting in iran

Solo-journalism is becoming somewhat of a fixture these days in the international journalism world. I’ve been doing it for almost a decade now in Malaysia and I see that there has been a bit of a resistance by journalists here, mainly those who work as staff employees.

It seems like they feel for a reporter to have to learn to handle the camera or video editing software is just having to something out of their official job description. And it goes the same for cameramen who are expected to learn to write scripts or even appear in front of the camera.

In fact, some broadcast journalists are even disgusted if they are expected to write an article for the web, and for print journalists to have to do a TV piece. It annoys the hell out of me.

I had been self-employed for ten years before I became a staff employee at a news organisation where I am now. And I would have starved to death during those ten years if I wasn’t a solo-journalist who could shoot a camera, edit a video, write an article, take photographs and appear in front of the camera.

It was the sheer financial and economic elements that made me do it (actually, I enjoy journalism so much that I just wanted to do it all anyway!). And that’s how I survived, by being multi-skilled and being able to offer more to my clients. I was a value-added vendor!

But honestly, there are so much more advantages to solo-journalism than just the economics side of it. The main reason I love it is the intimacy you get to foster with your subjects. When I shot my feature documentary ‘I’m Muslim Too!’ in Iran, I spent a week with the Persian metal band Arsames in the town of Mashhad. We really became buddies and it showed in the film. Also, the locals were just totally unintimidated by me because I was just this one guy walking around alone.

Yeah, things might get a little messy technical-wise since one person is doing everything, but the frankness of the story more than makes up for it. The guys from the band and I are friends till this day. But if you are careful and put in a little bit of effort, there shouldn’t be any reason why your work has to suffer technically anyway.

Malaysia desperately needs another Sudirman


Malaysia desperately needs another Sudirman
By Zan Azlee

“Eh, you know that Malay actress?” asked the Chinese lady.

“Which one?” replied the Malay lady.

“Haiya! The one in all of those Malay dramas lah. Fasha Sandha! She’s my neighbour you know.”

“Oh! Wah! You actually know these Malay celebrities! Quite good for a Chinese.”

“I don’t actually. She happened to appear on the AEC channel once lah. And I noticed she looked familiar.”

This may seem like a fairly innocent conversation to many. But I see it as something disturbing that shows the polarisation of the many races in Malaysia. From my point of view, this is just evidence of the segregation that has crept into the lives of Malaysia’s so-called multi-racial society.

Even the entertainment industry has been polarised. Malays will watch Malay dramas, Chinese watch Chinese dramas and Indians watch Tamil dramas. [Click to read the full article at English.AstroAwani.Com]

The opening up of Myanmar… on In Focus tonight on Astro AWANI!


The opening up of Myanmar
By Zan Azlee

Myanmar is a country close to my heart. It’s not because I have relatives there or that I’ve lived there before. In fact, it’s because I have failed in my attempts over the years to enter the country as a journalist.

The most recent failure was in early 2012. But this year, I finally made it into the country successfully. And I’m convinced that it is due to how the country’s military junta government has slowly started to open up to the world, allowing foreign journalists in and freeing up the media (relatively).

In fact, it isn’t just the foreign media that has been entering the country, an increase in foreign investments such as GLCs and SMEs have been on the rise due to the lifting of trade sanctions, with countries like South Korea, Japan and Malaysia leading the pack.

And with my trip into the country, it is clear that this has directly affected the economics of Myanmar in a positive way. The number of jobs is increasing and Yangon, although with buildings and people who look like they are from a time two decades ago, is bustling with activity.

Progress is progress and we have to acknowledge it no matter how slow or late it comes. But problems are problems and it will still exist, especially for a country that is now forced to have to adapt to a new world order fast if they want to survive.

The local workforce is still obscenely underpaid with normal blue collar workers earning an average of between 10,000 and 25,000 Kyat a month (RM36.40 to RM91.00), while local journalists are still very sceptical about the government’s approach to the media.

Aung San Su Kyi, who has been the symbol of human rights and democracy in Myanmar, has been freed from house arrest and is even now a member of parliament. But, in recent months, has kept quiet on issues that she would have made a fuss about back then.

During my trip, I meet lots of everyday Burmese (or Myanma) from journalists to factory workers, and even taxi drivers and cobblers, and they tell me about life in the country from their perspective.

So tune in to the last episode this season of In Focus this Tuesday, 24th September 2013, at 8:30pm on Astro AWANI.

*This entire episode of In Focus was shot on a smart phone.