Hans Isaac: Man on a mission

Change is coming with time even as the former actor-director braces for its impact


DO NOT call him a heart-throb. He might not like it.

The term heart-throb could have been more appropriate for his past as a model-turned-actor who had progressed into many different roles in the television and film industry.

Now that he has no plans to dabble in the film industry, Isaac is prepared to implement the changes he envisioned

Some still describe him as a charmer, though. He might not fully agree, but has to deal with the fact that people still describe him as the “still solo, actor/producer/director and former model, who is now the National Film Development Corp (Finas) chairman”.

Datuk Gerald Hans Isaac (picture), better known as Hans Isaac, said he is now focused on his new tasks at hand.

He has no plans to dabble in the film industry as a director, actor or producer while holding the chairman seat.

“With this position, I feel like it is my responsibility to make sure the things my peers and I have been complaining about for many years are finally put to action, and rather than continuously criticising them, I see this role as my chance to do something,” he told The Malaysian Reserve in an interview recently.

So, what else has changed since his appointment in April?

“I do not have a life…” was his straight answer.

“I start really early in the morning and I finish really late at night. The past few months of (me) holding this position has left me with no life, and I don’t get to see much of my friends and family.

“It’s been (nothing but) long days and I’m exhausted, but what drives me are the results. I’m a results-oriented guy,” he said.

A man with a mission, that’s what Hans is these days. He is committed to ensure that positive changes will come to the government body as much as he has envisioned.

Isaac has no plan to stay any longer than the two years he had signed up for, though.

“I don’t plan to stay here forever, or as long as five to ten years and so on, and I’ll try to get the things that we need done within the shortest amount of time. So someone else can take over this legacy,” he said.

While he sees the new role and task as a great honour, Isaac also admitted that the responsibilities pegged to the title are even greater.

“I am not complaining…The new team and I have come in to restructure Finas, because I look (to) the future and I am not here to look back on what has gone wrong. There will always be the good and the bad.

“The good things, we keep, and the bad ones, we adjust. I’m not here to say who did wrong or what, because that was not my time. But now, it is,” he said.

Changes Abound, Critics All Ready
Isaac said with the many changes set to come for the ecosystem of the film industry, there is no point in feeding naysayers announcements.

“When the time comes, we will announce the changes that are about to come for the film industry. There is no point in announcing it now because there will be people who say ‘what’s the point? It’s the same as before. All talk, no action’,” he said.

Knowing that, Isaac chooses the path of not just talking but getting the results before-hand and then announcing the findings much later.

“Having said that, we are being hit by blogs and some industry players who are going ‘you’ve been there for three months, what’s happened?’, and I say, my friend, it takes a little more time than three months,” he said.

Isaac added that the team is ready for the backlash that would occur from the changes that are expected to take place soon in the industry.

“We are ready for the backlash, but we know that after the backlash, change will occur, and you’d realise that what we are going to do is probably not even bad at all, so we can’t please everybody,” he said.

Collective, but Individual
As for the local market, Hans said there is a dichotomy between two major markets in the country.

“In Malaysia, the market is majorly split into two; the rural and the urban. I’d say what is okay with the urban can be a big issue to the rural market, and vice versa.

“Not to say one is more intelligent than the other, but it is how both have different mindsets, and how they develop their ideologies and ways of thinking,” he said.

He added that it is not a bad thing that the urban market prefers more international movies than local films.

“From what I see, the big pump for our local industry would be the rural market, because they prefer to watch both international and local films, whereas urbanites lean towards international films. But it is neither (of) their fault.

“The urbanites are more exposed to international marketing campaign(s),” he said.

Isaac said it is still important for film-makers to create stories that are true to themselves.

“You create your story as how you want it to be. If you can create a story that can also appeal to the international market, then there is a reason why you are the writer, or director, or producer for the film itself,” he said.

Isaac added that film-makers should strive to write stories about the truth that are different from what is seen every day.

“A lot of people write (stories) for the market, but then you’ve got to write a story that is true, mixing culture(s) and emotions that are differently played.

“For instance, three friends may react to an emotion differently, and why do they do that? Because maybe, the way their minds were developed was also in contrast to each other’s,” he said.

Speaking of Experience
Isaac said the position as the chairman of Finas may have come off as a surprise to some.

“I’ve been an actor, producer, and director, and what people don’t know as much (of) is that I’m also part of the director’s board for Perdana Petroleum Bhd and also for some insurance-based agencies. I also have other businesses outside of acting,” he said.

On his experience in the film industry, Isaac expanded on the possibilities and reasons why a movie could fail.

“Chances are, when a movie fails, it could be because of bad marketing. But there is a good movie… Or you’ve got a really bad story, and you’ve tried to market it differently, or the audience cannot accept (it); so, there are many areas where you can fail,” he said.

He added that one should have funds in order to remain sustainable in the industry.

“You have to have enough funds so that you can produce more than one film, and chances are, if you’re creative but you do not have funds, you’ll only be able to produce one.

“So in order to have fun with creativity, you should be able to find a way to support that structure financially to keep creating,” he said.