Malaysian Independence Day Throwback
Updated: Aug 31, 2019
Happy Independence Day Malaysia! As I unfurl my Malaysian flag to be displayed in my balcony, I am reminded of an Independence Day commercial I did way, way, way back when for Proton, the Malaysian car company.
Here is the commercial that was broadcast on Malaysia's Independence Day 2006.
Here is the story behind the music for this commercial.
About 8 months before this commercial aired on August 31, 2006, my studio was already contacted to work on the music. So in December of 2005, I was given a brief from the ad agency who was producing this commercial for Proton. They wanted music that would be emotional and harked back to sentimental memories of a more innocent time, when Proton made its first car available to the Malaysian public. This ad campaign was centered around giving the image that Proton was going through a rebirth of sorts, while also reminding people of Proton being part of our national heritage yadda yadda yadda.
I was given an animatic against which I had to write music. An animatic is basically an animated storyboard, with very basic animations on a comic book-like panel layout set to some basic sound effects and some voice overs. It gave me a rough idea of when certain scenes in the final movie would happen, and I had to do the music highlights based on this.
Another thing I was told was, since this was a crucial ad campaign, they wanted different music options, so the brief was given to two other composers, to come up with their musical interpretation of the brief. About one week later, we all came up with our versions of what we thought would work with the animatics. In fact, I was asked to do two versions, one of which had more of a retro guitar vibe. I think both versions that I did actually fit the commercial, but I was partial to the version that had more orchestral elements in it, because I felt it "tugged at heartstrings" more. I love tugging at heartstrings.
Below is a video showing the actual session when the client came to the studio to listen to all the music options and finally choose the one that would be in the final video. Options 3 and 4 are mine.
As luck would have it, they happened to choose one of my options, and then we didn't hear from the agency for about 7 months. The next year, in July, we heard from the ad agency again, and this time they had just finished shooting the video and were in the process of editing it. This was the time when they sent us the different edits for me to adjust the music to the different highlights of the edited movie. So I had to open the project again, and revisit something that I had done so many months ago, and try to adjust everything accordingly.
Depending on the type of commercial, sometimes there will be quite a few versions of it. In this case, there was a longer 3 minute version that was probably aired on Independence Day itself, and a 1 minute 30 second version that aired for about a week after that.
It is quite rare for a commercial to have such a long production cycle, and this was probably the only time when the music was done so many months before the actual airing of the commercial. This seemed almost like a movie music production schedule. Even though there was quite a lot of work involved at the time, I'm pretty happy to have been a part of a production that invoked some sense of nationalistic sentimentality. And I had a blast doing the music for it because I am guilty of being a sucker for emo stuff.