Behind the Scenes of ‘The Journey’

By Patricia Hului

thejourney-p1KUCHING: Following the success of ‘Woohoo!’ (2010) and ‘Great Day’ (2011), notable Malaysian director Chiu Keng Guan has his long-awaited feature, ‘The Journey’, set for theatrical release on January 30, marking the completion of his Astro Chinese New Year trilogy films.


Presented by Astro Shaw and produced by Woohoo Pictures, ‘The Journey’ is a story that explores the idea of culture, starring amateur actors such as 74-year-old retiree Frankie Lee Sai Peng, Australian stage actor Ben Andrew Pfeiffer, winner of Miss Astro Chinese International Pageant 2007 Joanne Yew Hong Im.


What makes this film interesting and special besides the talented cast and poignant storyline, is that it is set against beautiful landscapes in Malaysia, portraying the many unique local Chinese cultures and lifestyles such as Astro’s Chinese New Year countdown gala, ‘Pai Ti Kong’ (Worship of Heaven) at the Clan Jetty, Penang, and the Chingay Parade in Johor Bahru.


“In order to compete with foreign productions, we became very ‘local’, to the extent that we try to be extremely relevant to the local people,” said Choo Chi Han, executive producer of ‘The Journey’ during a press conference in Kuching on January 11 after the screening.


Budgeted at RM3 million, the film was shot in 40 days over a period of four months.


“It was challenging as we filmed around unconventional outdoor locations round-the-clock spanning across Cameron Highlands, Ipoh, Penang, Kedah, Melaka and Johor. We also managed to overcome many technical hurdles and unforeseen circumstances”, Chiu said.


BIKE RIDING IN MALAYSIA: First time actor Lee ‘Uncle Chuan’ and Australian stage actor, Pfeiffer ‘Benji’ on a journey delivering wedding invitations in the film.


Chiu was recently awarded Best Director for his film Great Day at the first local Chinese-language film awards, the 2013 Golden Wau Awards. The idea of making the Nation Movie project like ‘The Journey’ came to him while he was producing the Astro Chinese New Year music video, ‘Happy Dragon’, which was an instant hit in 2011/12. Inspired, Chiu then went on a quest to get the right talents for the film.


“During the month-long extensive shoot of Happy Dragon in various places in Malaysia, we came across many talented people regardless of their age and background. This experience has inspired us to explore the possibility of engaging more local people in our production, which is also in line with Astro’s efforts in developing a diverse talent pool for the industry.”


PICTURESQUE:  Choo stated that this was the first Malaysian film that made use of so many beautiful locations throughout Peninsular Malaysia; one of it is the paddy field here in Kedah.

PICTURESQUE: Choo stated that this was the first Malaysian film that made use of so many beautiful locations throughout Peninsular Malaysia; one of it is the paddy field here in Kedah.


On the use of over 40 locations for the filming, “We want to show how beautiful Malaysia is and how proud we are as Malaysians,” said Chiu.


Besides the cast members and the filming crew, Astro invited the public to also be part of the film.


WORSHIP OF HEAVEN: One of the scenes was shot during the ‘Pai Ti Kong’ celebrated at the eve of ninth day of Chinese New Year.


In October 2013, ‘The Journey’ made its global premiere at the inaugural Taoyuan Film Festival in Taiwan and was voted the best foreign movie amongst 61 films from 25 countries.


The red carpet and gala premiere for ‘The Journey’ is slated for 8pm on January 18, with a talk show featuring the director and the main casts, which will also be televised LIVE from Paradigm Mall, Petaling Jaya through Astro AEC (Ch 301) and Astro Wah Lai Toi (Ch 311).


‘The Journey’ will also premiere in 11 cinemas nationwide and will be free entry for the first 100 lucky audience members at each location, on a first-come-first-serve basis.


ONE BIG PROP: The biggest prop in The Journey is a hot air balloon made of over 10,000 recycled plastic bags contributed by the people all over the country.


For more details about The Journey, visit


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