Ciplak; a movie about a Malaysian DVD pirate

Apart from major worldwide releases, most movies come out in England a few months after they appear in America. When a movie does really bad, it may not even get a cinema release in England, the studios instead opting to churn it out on the straight-to-DVD rental market.

Did you know that Malaysia is one of the top producers and distributors of pirated DVD’s in the world?

Jo saw it coming.

dvd piracy malaysiaAccording to the International Intellectual Property Alliance special report on Malaysia in 2005, estimated losses to the U.S. copyright industries in 2004 due to piracy in Malaysia alone were US$188.4 million.

Did you know that, with the current exchange rate, you can make a 600% profit by selling a pirated DVD bought in Malaysia to someone in England? How do you think Jo makes his money?

A young Malay male obsessed with movies and preparing to sit for his finals in England, Jo doesn’t just take advantage of England’s secondary market status. He doesn’t just smuggle pirated DVD’s and sell them to his friends.

With a hook up in the seedy black markets of London, Jo sells his pirated DVD’s as master copies for others to copy and distribute, sometimes for as much as 50 pounds a disc. After years of saving up, this last shipment of 175 DVD’s will give him enough money to finally make his dream in life become a reality.

Who would’ve thought every pirated DVD outlet in Malaysia would be raided and shut down on the same day?

With less than 24 hours to spare and his contacts in England becoming increasingly impatient, Jo must ask himself one thing: how far are you willing to go to make your dreams come true?



Produced, written, directed and edited by Khairil M. Bahar (who also plays ‘Jo’, the lead character), Ciplak was shot on weekends from October 1st till January 8th by a tiny crew that includes professional photographer Ariff Aris and filmmaker Tony Pietra as directors of photographer.

The story leading up to the decision to shoot Ciplak is an interesting one.

“I originally wanted to shoot a love story called Celup as my first feature,” says Khairil. “I had been working on it with my producer for months when, all of a sudden, he decided to leave the project.”

Determined to shoot a feature film before his 26th birthday, Khairil ransacked his past writing folders and discovered a little hidden gem called VCD.

“I wrote VCD when I first came back to Malaysia (2001). They say ‘write what you know’ and I had been living in England for most of my life prior to KL. VCD’s were the only thing I knew. I’d always go to the stalls at Bangsar outside MPH and Burger King and after a while I noticed things about VCD’s, such as the photoshopped covers, the different types of copies and pirate logos.”

It was from these observations Khairil’s imagination started crafting a ten minute opening sequence that showed the various different types of VCD copies which soon turned into a feature length script.


“From this I crafted a script which was about 50 or so pages long, then filed it and never thought it could be filmed with my lack of resources.”

With the new advent of DVD piracy, Khairil set to work rewriting the script to suit the times, adding a more dramatic drive.

“The story is actually less about piracy and more about a young man trying to pursue his dreams. In the case of Jo, the main character, he’s crazy about movies and he’s willing to do this highly illegal act of smuggling DVD’s into another country just so he can save enough money to get into film school. Is it the right thing to do? No. But when you’re that passionate about something, logic and reason usually fly out the window.”

The same could be said about Khairil. Inspired by the guerilla filmmaking tactics made famous by the debut features of filmmakers such as Robert Rodriguez and Kevin Smith, Khairil begged, borrowed and stole to shoot the film.

“Every actor, actress and crew member wasn’t paid. Every location was given in kind. All the outdoor locations were shot as quickly as we could before we got shoo-ed from the pace. In fact, the only thing we paid for was DV tapes and roti canai. I think the budget is about RM$400, but that doesn’t include the camera.”

The movie also features many people from the local music scene.

“Since I’m heavily involved with the local music scene via FYI Entertainment (Khairil’s record label run together with Saiful of Y2k) a lot of my friends are musicians. So you’ve got Hassan Peter Brown of Soft Touch, Saiful from Y2k, Ben and CK from Ben’s Bitches and a whole lot more, all acting in this movie (as well as contributing to the soundtrack).”

For added production value and authenticity, Khairil also has scenes that take place in the UK.

“I called up one of my friends (Sajib Azad) in the UK from my old drama society days in university and told him about the script, asking whether he could sort out a cast and crew to shoot some scenes in England which I could intercut with the scenes in Malaysia. I could’ve shot the scenes here but when you see the footage the whole look and feel of the scenes are very English, the brick walls, the decor. And the actors, you can’t get that accent just anyway. I swear, one of the guys looks and talks like a young Clive Owen.”

Some would say that making a movie about piracy would be a risky venture and one that would court censorship, but that’s the least of Khairil’s worries.

“Don’t get me wrong, I think piracy is bad, but I also think the issue hasn’t been properly addressed. It’s not enough to just tell the public ‘don’t buy pirated goods’. The thing is, I’ve always enjoyed making films about things in Malaysia that many would say are wrong, probably because I feel that a lot of these things aren’t properly addressed. My first short film, ‘Nicotine’, was about smoking and cigarette addiction and simply shows a smoker trying to quit and his friend who’s diagnosed with cancer. I don’t think there’s been an effective anti-smoking campaign in Malaysia ever, and I believe it’s because it’s too preachy, which I try not to do. Take ‘Requiem for a Dream’, for example. It’s a movie about the lives of drug addicts, but after watching that you’ll never touch drugs ever because you just saw in gory detail how messed up a road that is. Let the audience make up their own mind, their not complete idiots.”

Currently, Ciplak is going through post-production with plans for a premiere in mid to late February, with no plans as yet as to how to move forward with the movie.

“When you’re doing everything by yourself there’s so much to think about that you tend to focus on the immediate things first. My main concern right now is to finish the flick, then have a private premiere screening and send it to a few festivals. After that, God knows. My main goal was to make a feature film when I’m 25, which has helped me to learn how to go about doing it. I’ll think about the future when I get there.”

And how does Khairil juggle making a feature film with a day job (as well as FYI Entertainment).

“With lots of coffee. This constant juggling is the reason I’ve resigned from my current job as a copywriter to concentrate on all music and filmmaking whilst I’m young and foolish and don’t know any better. I don’t want to end up a 38 year old looking back and saying to myself ‘damn, I should’ve tried to make a movie back when I was younger’. Life’s too short.”

For more information visit

CIPLAK Press Kit


Khairil M. Bahar

Writer, Director, Producer, Editor, Actor

Born in the Philippines and brought up in England between the ages of 1-6 and 12-21, Khairil has been in love with the movies since he first saw ‘Back to the Future’ and discovered filmmaking during the mid-90’s via Martin Scorcese, John Woo and the numerous indie filmmakers that appeared at the time such as Kevin Smith, Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino.

Prior to ‘Ciplak‘, Khairil has written, directed & edited two short films: the first, ‘Nicotine’, was invited to the Singapore International Film Festival in 2005; the second, ‘Some Like It White’, was broadcast on the TV show ‘ Shortcuts ‘ on Astro Prima. Both short films premiered at the KSFM shorts.

He has also directed and edited music videos for One Buck Short, Y2k and Dragon Red. His acting credits include a number of plays in England and two short films, ‘Seeing Things’ and ‘Wrath’, both directed by Tony Pietra.

Khairil is also one of the founders of FYI Entertainment (an independent record label), plays in two bands ( Y2k and Triple 6 Poser ), occasionally freelances for KLue magazine and works as a copywriter at an advertising agency.

Ciplak‘ is his first attempt at a feature length film.

Ariff Aris

Director of Photography

A professional photographer for LIka studio, Ariff was also the cinematographer on the short film ‘Kerusi Panjang’ (2004). A childhood friend of Khairil’s, Ariff also played drums in the bands ‘Khaimano’ and ‘S.D.C.’.

Tony Pietra

2 nd Director of Photography

Playing the role of Azri as well as 2nd Director of Photography is Tony Pietra, film school graduate and local filmmaker. His last two films (‘Wrath’ which he wrote and ‘Seeing Things’ written by Allan Koay) both featured Khairil M. Bahar.

Adam Laurence

Director of Photography (U.K.)

Adam has been making films for the last 8 years. His work has moved from Avant-Garde beginnings on his BA in Time-Based Media at Kent Institute of Art & Design, to more conventional narrative found in his current work.

His progress has developed a unique authorship which gives his deeply theorized work originality while remaining accessible and entertaining. He is also an award winning screenwriter and is currently working in collaboration on a feature film project.


Hassan Peter Brown The Connoisseur

Peter Brown aka Hassan has been acting for most of his life in his own hypermovie. His megalomaniac tendencies were apparent when aged four years old in Pevensey Bay, South coast of England he declared “I’m the King of the Castle!” Claims to have acted opposite Rosyam Noor in a movie for TV3 but can’t remember the name (sounds like a tall story).

Has had other bit parts in Malay movies whenever they needed a superannuated, slightly comic Englishman who can’t stop smiling. Also does music and has self-produced seven albums, three with his wife Markiza – the latest being the Soft Touch Full album, with their five-piece band Soft Touch. Spends his leisure time dreaming, washing up, cutting his toe-nails and other trivial and boring pursuits.

Ben & CK Ah Seng & Mark

Ben (right) and CK (left) make up the mad minds behind ‘Ben’s Bitches’, a local punk rock band who think nothing of writing songs about VCD sellers, copulation & Paula Malai Ali.

For the movie ‘Ciplak‘, Ben & CK play Ah Seng & Mark, the DVD pirates who the main protagonist, Jo, always gets his stock from.

Farah Maria Puteri

In the past, Farah has modeled for numerous local magazines and worked with Khairil previously on the music video for Y2k’s debut single ‘Lara’.

In ‘Ciplak‘, Farah plays Puteri, a teenage girl who’s sweet and innocent demeanor hides her favorite hobby: collecting DVD’s and VCD’s of the more ‘risque’ variety. One person who’s certainly unaware of her secret is her over-protective brother.

Nazneen Halim Diane

Playing Diane, a struggling musician with a happy-go-lucky personality, is Nazneen, formerly of the Wallet and Sofa Sessions. Always bubbly and cheerful, she plays the only character in the movie with any positive redeeming qualities.

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