Datuk Yusof Haslam is a hard man to please. His son, 23-year-old director Syafiq Yusof, knows this only too well. Syafiq has made four films so far (SAM, Abang Long Fadil, Villa Nabila and Mat Moto: Kami Mat Motor Bukan Mat Rempit) under Yusof’s Skop Productions and each time, he found it challenging to get his producer father’s seal of approval.
“I usually show my dad a preview of my movie before it’s released. Each time after viewing, he gives me a list of things I need to change,” Syafiq said during an interview in Petaling Jaya, Selangor.
He recalled that Yusof, 62, was particularly harsh at an internal screening for his latest feature Desolasi.
The film stars Syamsul Yusof (Syafiq’s older brother) as Aiman, a struggling artist whose life goes from bad to worse when he loses his job and mother. Unable to bear his sufferings any longer, he starts questioning his faith, wishing that God would make everyone disappear.
When he wakes up the next day, Aiman finds himself the only person left in the world.
“My father was angry at scenes where Aiman asks his father (played by Datuk Jalaluddin Hassan) why God allows suffering. Aiman also questions why God can’t just let everyone be wealthy and happy. My father thought I was making a blasphemous film.”
Syafiq shared that he told his father to calm down and reserve further judgment until the end of the film. He said to Yusof that everything would make sense at the end.
Shot in 2014, Desolasi took two years to complete due to extensive CGI work. When a trailer was released in October, viewers were immediately in awe of a sequence where Aiman is walking around a desolated Kuala Lumpur in broad daylight.
Syafiq explained that the scene was shot in iconic areas like Bukit Bintang, Petaling Street and Batu Caves with hundreds of people watching his team. The onlookers were later painstakingly removed using computer effects during the post-production period.
“We couldn’t close the roads so we had to shoot with the public watching Syamsul act like there is no one around.”
Syamsul, 32, initially refused to play the lead role in his brother’s movie. He was still reeling from the aftermath of KL Gangster 2 being leaked online, two months before its official release date.
“I told him to cast somebody else. I gave him names like Shaheizy Sam, Aaron Aziz and Adi Putra,” Syamsul said.
But Syafiq wouldn’t budge. He shared that Aiman’s struggle was partly inspired by Syamsul.
“Then Syafiq said he had a dream that I was playing Aiman. So he couldn’t let any-one else play the role. So I agreed. Plus, I can relate to the character.
“Aiman is someone who also has a difficult relationship with his father. As you all know, I have that experience too,” he said with a laugh.
Desolasi marks the first time Syafiq is directing Syamsul as the lead. Previously, Syamsul had a cameo in Abang Long Fadil. Syamsul thinks he drove his younger brother crazy simply by asking the director about his performance every day on set.
“I have this feeling that because I’m older, Syafiq feels a bit hesistant to be firm with me. I keep reminding him to tell me if I need to do anything differently.”
Syamsul, who recently made the news for breaking his left shoulder on the set of upcoming film Makrifat Cinta and turned up at the interview with his arm in a sling, said he was committed to making a good movie for the audience.
“We have to work hard to achieve good results. I don’t care if Syafiq and I fight on set. We’ll still be family. The audience doesn’t want to know if Syafiq hurt my feelings. They just want to see a good product,” Syamsul explained.
The brothers must have settled into a good working rhythm because Syamsul is also starring in Syafiq’s next film, KL Special Force, an action-packed police movie.
At the end of the day, Syamsul is proud of his brother’s latest effort as Desolasi is not just another movie filled with special effects. It’s a story about faith with emphasis on a father-son relationship.
So what did Syamsul and Syafiq’s father think of Desolasi in the end? “Oh, he cried. He was happy with it. It was also the first time I heard him say I didn’t have to make any changes to the movie,” Syafiq revealed.
Desolasi opens on Dec 8.