It started with white – Tiger White, to be exact, the newly-launched wheat beer variant of from Tiger Beer. Its tagline, “It all starts with white”, which represents the idea that anybody can create anything if they have the courage to face a blank sheet of paper and start, served as inspiration for what would become the world’s first film crowd-sourced from beer coasters.

Some 5,000 white coasters were distributed to selected bars and cafes in Malaysia from October last year (with tigercoasterfilm.com hosting digital versions). These coasters served as blank canvases for people to submit their ideas – whether it’s a story plot, a costume design or concept art – for a chance to be part of the production, whether as a screenwriter, hair stylist, actor or even a mere runner.

The first two participants selected through the process were the most important ones – director Cho We Jun and screenwriter Lim Benji. Both these homegrown talents were responsible for laying down the groundwork for the film, and crafting the plot whilst taking advice from acclaimed Icelandic director, Baltasar Kormakur, known for the recent blockbuster Everest, as well as the Oscar-nominated Icelandic film, The Deep.

Shot in three days in various locations around Kuala Lumpur, the 15-minute-long Coaster is the story of a young chef faced with a dilemma: hired to cook for a mobster responsible for his father’s death, he has to decide whether to serve up the perfect plate of revenge.

According to Kormakur, when he was approached by Tiger White to oversee the project, he found it an intriguing prospect. “I’ve scaled mountains to make a film, I’ve swam in the North Atlantic Ocean to make a film, but I’ve never recruited people from beer coasters to make a film before!” he said in an e-mail interview.

Kormakur’s role as a mentor required him to provide guidance to Cho and Lim from pre- to post-production.

“As I was in Iceland at the time, I kept close tabs on their progress via e-mail, and also had several video chat sessions as we went along. It was very easy working with the both of them as we brainstormed and bounced ideas off each other,” he said.

Kormakur added that the two young filmmakers initially had reservations about their plot because they thought it was too dark.

Director Cho (right) and screenwriter Lim on location.

Director Cho (right) and screenwriter Lim on location.

“They had a few concerns like how much or how little gore or violence needs to or should be shown,” he said. “I told them to trust the audience and trust their instincts. The plot can come through via cinematography, colours, contrast and emotions of the characters … not everything has to be spelled out.”

Having previously dabbled in smaller filmmaking projects of his own, Cho was ecstatic to be part of the project.

“It wasn’t very long ago that I was working in a bank, following a path I didn’t want to take. I had made a few films before but none like this. I mean, we were mentored by Baltasar Kormakur! How many people can say that?” Cho said.

Having seen the final cut, Kormakur was impressed by Cho and Lim’s work. “It’s a good short film and I’m proud of them, and everyone behind the campaign,” he said.

“I’m a big believer that you can achieve anything you want, wherever you are and whether you’re from Iceland or Malaysia. If you dream big, you’ll achieve big and I’m sure together we’ve created something special.”

To watch Coaster, or view behind-the-scene footages, visit tigercoasterfilm.com. For more information on Tiger White, visit www.tiger beer.com.my.