Original posted at http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2011/9/29/nation/9597708&sec=nation
PUTRAJAYA: Hollywood star Jason Scott Lee famous for his portrayal of kung fu film legend Bruce Lee will host the second series of the Malaysian Journey documentary to promote Malaysia's eco-tourism sector.
“Malaysia's diverse ethnic groups and culture are simply captivating.
“There is so much beauty in your country that needs to be shared with the world,” he said at the sneak preview of the upcoming documentary called Hutan organised by the Tourism Ministry.
The one hour documentary, scheduled for broadcast early next year, will feature the Kuala Gandah Elephant Sanctuary, Taman Negara National Park, Tasik Kenyir Lake, Gunung Mulu National Park and the Bornean Sun Bear conservation centre in Sabah.
In 2007, Jason hosted the first instalment of Malaysian Journey where he shared his experiences with the Semelai people in Pahang, silat sessions, life with the Rungus tribe in Sabah, abseiling in Mount Kinabalu and living with fishermen in Langkawi.
It was broadcast on National Geographic Channel global network, reaching over 300 million households and televised in 166 countries and in 32 languages.
Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said in her speech that the Government remains committed to conserving Malaysia's nature through sustainable tourism.
“Our eco-tourism policy states that no more than 50% of our rainforest can be developed. This is to ensure that our forests are well-protected,” she said.
In KOTA KINABALU, Jason volunteered to help put the finishing touches to a house in Kampung Lingubang in Kota Belud, about 150km from here, on Monday, before presenting the keys to home owner, 44-year-old Jenik Ladsou.
It was part of a programme by volunteer group Habitat for Humanity Malaysia to provide houses for poor families.
Jason, who lives in his native Hawaii with Singapore-born wife Diana Chan and their 15-month-old daughter, said he still remembered the first time he came to Sabah three years ago when he climbed Mount Kinabalu and shot a documentary.
“I still remember the pain and agony of coming down from the mountain,” he smiled.
By Howard Jackson and Dr Audrey Low
After a year and half’s work on our documentary witnessing the pivotal moment in Wong’s big dream for his little sun bears we decided it was close to completion and high time to test it on an audience. The Sydney Film School where Howard works was kind enough to offer their screening theater and so we set about inviting a wide cross section of people to see our big dream little film. Normally, with a preview, all the principle team; the producer, publicists, designers, marketers, sponsors, investors etc, etc…and the film makers; director, camera, sound, editor, talent, narrator, colorist, score composer etc, etc, etc, fill half the theatre. But for our film (our big dream no budget as we’ve come to call it) has a sum total of 2. The thank-you’s and congratulations and stroking of one another’s egos, were therefore mercifully short.
It was an evening screening but we made it a point to let people with children know they were welcome and so in amongst the heads of university departments, Borneo experts, professors, our Sydney sun bear expert (Lesley Small), a small smattering of film makers, educators, advertising people, animal lovers and members of the general public; we had a dozen or so kids ranging from four years old to twelve. Some looked fidgety and bored before we had even begun our introduction and we couldn’t help thinking it could only go downhill from there.
The lights went down, the title came up and within the first minutes the kids had settled and were giving the story their full attention. We hadn’t really considered this film to be something that would engage children so I have to admit we expected them to lose interest after a while but against all expectations they sat with their eyes glued to the screen for the full 52 minutes and 38 seconds.
As filmmakers you tend to judge the audience appreciation (or not) by the sounds and movements throughout the theater. The right ones came pretty soon after the film began: a nice series of chuckles and outright laughs at the interchanges between Wong and the international bear crew and the oughs during the darting and medical procedure. I noticed someone almost jumped off their seat when the first bear was zapped by the electric fence and the macaques stealing the bear’s food were a special favorite. Towards the end a distinguished professor called out “Oh no, she’s not going to go” when it looked like none of the bears would ever leave the cage and then when it happened called out again “Good on you girl.”
In short the audience reaction exceeded our best expectations, and certainly exceeded our worst. The kids were doing Wong’s slow motion “Free the bears” impersonations in the foyer (if you haven’t seen that, it’s on the Wildhoop youtube channel). The question and answer time at the end, normally a polite formality went on so long we finally had to say we surrender and that we wanted to get to the food and drink we had prepared.
One of the heartening aspects of the screening for the BSBCC was the number of people who came up to us afterwards, whist sharing a beverage or two, to ask us how they could help or donate to the cause. The fact they could see where the money was spent and that Wong and Wai Pak, and the people dedicated to Malaysian conservation, were making a difference, or put another way, they could see hope, really struck a chord with people. It also surprised them to learn that you could build a purpose built facility in Malaysia that cost around about the same amount as it takes to fund a fairly low budget documentary.
It has been a fascinating journey for us. We originally went to Sabah to shoot some footage so as to put up a clip on the web to help publicize Wong and the BSBCC and at the same time to use the clip to try to get film investment here in Australia so we could go back with a crew to make a slick documentary. The first part of that plan was a resounding success (we’ve had just short of 50,000 hits on Youtube alone), the second part, wasn’t quite a resounding victory. Insisting we feature the team of people working on the bears without superimposing a western presenter in front of them was never going to help get investors. But, like Wong, we weren’t going to give up. We looked back through the footage we had shot and realized there was a stand-alone story within. Well, we hoped. It’s hard to tell until you put in front of a real flesh and blood audience.
Doing every job between two people is a long and tiring process, we’ve had to stop occasionally to go out and teach so we could start the next stage, but having a close to completely finished project within the time we’ve taken is about what it takes for a production house.
Since the great response to the Sydney Film School screening we’ve had an offer to show it in Melbourne at another film school and, both interestingly and coincidentally, after our surprise at Big Dream’s success in entertaining kids, we’ve had a distribution offer that could see the little bears be viewed in schools and universities (with an education pack included). The film was described as moving, inspiring, and perfect for young people. We’re still in negotiation but it does show that Wong’s belief, if only people knew the Borneo sun bears exist, they would be interested and love them.
We’re almost there, just few last tweaks to sort out the broadcast specs, (the first time we’ve encountered something we can’t do or learn to do ourselves), but we are ever so close to having the dream ready for audiences to join Siew Te Wong and his fantastic team on their quest to save one of Borneo’s rarest and unknown (hopefully we can do our small part to help to change that) treasures.
Future plans? Obviously this process has sent us stark raving mad, we keep dreaming of going back to Sabah and doing another one. Anyone working with animals that no one has ever heard about and no film company would ever invest in. Contact the two crazies at Wildhoop Productions.
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Thank you Howard and Audrey so much for accomplishing such a tremendous task for "making" (producing, directing, filming, editing, narrating, ............) Big Dream Little Bears. I would never have thought that this project has come this far. I still recalled clearly the first email that Audrey wrote me and offering help few years ago. "Do what you do best to help us" was my replied. True enough, Audrey said her husband is a film maker and can help us make some videos to promote our course. The end result is much better! Big Dream Little Bears is a great gift from Howard and Audrey and Wildhoop Production to me and BSBCC.
This is a great documentary that recorded what was happening during the few weeks when we moved the sun bears from the old bear house to the new bear house. We now can always remember every single detail - including the continuous sneezing from my allergy to sun bears.
Thank you Howard. Thank you Audrey. Thank you Wildhoop Production!
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Big Dream Little Bears by Wildhoop Productions. Narrator - Dr Audrey Low. Director, Editor - Howard Jackson.
Borneo sun bears are the most endangered, least studied and smallest bears on earth. In the rush to harvest the rain-forests of Malaysia these bears are literally fighting to survive.
A brand new series of "Malaysia truly Asia" advertisements by the Tourism Malaysia Board will be aired across the world in the near future. Over the past few days, the production team has been filming at several tourism hotspots across Malaysia to take the most appealing scenes to promote tourism in Malaysia. One of the subjects chosen for this advertisement is the sun bears at Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre.
It started with many days of preparation and planning. Today the filming team and crews that consisted of about 40 people visited us to do the filming. The crew built an observation platform where the "talents" (actors and actresses) stood and viewed the sun bears in our state-of-the-art forest enclosure. Thanks to the cooperation of the weather, the forest, and our four legged actresses - Cerah and Jelita the sun bears, the filming went smoothly. The production team managed to film Cerah and Jelita foraging in the forest enclosure and climbing the trees where the production team hopes them to do so. After a tense hour of filming (as the bears are not use to a big crowd of people nearby and everyone has to stay quiet and complete still so that our actress did not run away), the director finally filmed what he wanted and a rap was called at noon.
We hope with the sun bears show up in this tourism advertisement, more and more people across the world can know about the presence of this little known sun bear that inhabit deep in the forest of Malaysia. We would like to thank the production team for featuring the sun bear at our centre, the sun bears (Cerah and Jelita) for behaving so well today, and finally the cooperation of forest residents to make this filming possible. Thank you all!
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Malaysian actress Joanna Bessey interviewed Siew Te Wong on the plights of sun bears at Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre. The program was aired globally in BBC World News on April 4th 2009.
You can read more about the filming at http://sunbears.wildlifedirect.org/2008/11/06/sweat-and-smell-the-bears-is-good-to-be-back/
A conservation story wrapped in an adventure
BEARTREK is a feature length documentary that follows renowned bear biologist and naturalist Chris Morgan on a global crusade to understand and conserve the rarest bears on Earth. Join Chris on an epic motorcycle adventure across four continents to the wildest places on Earth -uncover the secretive nature of the world’s most endangered bears, discover the threats facing them in the wild, and meet dedicated individuals racing to saving them from extinction.
Our film is an emotional one. Why? Because the places, people and bears that we will be meeting along the way will move you. The destinations are exotic (among them are Peru, Mongolia, Borneo, Alaska and India). The bears will amaze you (India alone has four species), and the stories will grip you. Imagine tracking sloth bears by elephant back in tiger country, following the emotional release of a captive sun bear in Borneo, or immersing yourself in a tiny Andean town where a soccer league determines the fate of the local bears.
BEARTREK brings the amazing world of bears to the big screen as you have never seen before -a stunning natural history adventure that will change your view of the world, and inspire you to take action.
I am honored to be part of story featured in BEARTREK. In this movie, I will tell you my field work on sun bears in the rainforest of Borneo and show you some of the very rare footages of sun bear. Sun bears receive very little media coverage and publicity until now. I hope BEARTREK will introduce you this little known and little bear species- the sun bear!
Click here to see the latest promo video on BEARTREK
Please learn more about the movie at