Getting to know Hafreez Amminuddin is an experience — from the get go, one can already tell that the creative director has a personality as loud as his bold fashion choices (he makes it work!). It's not often you find someone with a charming personality both IRL and URL, so we're going out on a limb to say that Hafreez is one of a kind. We talk to the Sarawak-native on his creative journey, good visual storytelling and more.
What was your first creative project? Was there a point where you knew filmmaking was not just a hobby, but what you wanted to do in life professionally?
My first creative project was a test shoot I did with my best friends. We were trying to create an editorial makeup looks based on The Last Airbender, Legend of Aang. That was really fun! And of course, I’m an Earthbender.
I knew that I needed to take this hobby seriously when I started handling bigger projects that required me to collaborate with many skilled talents. I am still new to this, but I am comfortable to say now that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.
How would you describe your creative direction? Are there certain things you look to capture?
I love capturing moments that the audience can relate to and translate it into visuals. My works are inspired a lot from my life, my surrounding, my friends and the global issues. I love capturing moments that the audience can relate to and translate them into visuals. Like how some people share their thoughts through social media, I guess my method of communicating is through the visuals that I produce.
We love how energetic you are both online and offline! How much of your personality is reflected in your works?
Well I can’t do this alone for sure, its a team energy. I do feel like most of my works really reflect on so many aspects of who I am as individual, the people that I work with on set, the music that we choose and the messages that we conveying through our visual contents.
Was it difficult first getting started in Malaysia? What were some of the obstacles you faced and how did you overcome them?
To be honest, anyone can do it. I didn’t study film at all. I started from making my own content (influencer job haha!). Then I worked with Chatime to create digital content and assist someone who did PR. I guess what I’m trying to say is that throughout the years, I picked up all these new skills and learnt from so many people that I worked with. Then I got into making content for brands. Indeed, I’m still learning and getting new experiences all the time.
Speaking of obstacles, I wish that I was exposed to the creative world earlier. Imagine if I had the access to what I’m doing now — girl, I would be doing a lot of crazy fun stuff! Stay tuned though, there's more crazy fun stuff coming your way soon.
You've directed music videos and advertisements for big clients. In your opinion, what makes for good visual storytelling that keeps them coming back to you?
Listening is the key here, especially when you work with a client. You got to understand what the client wants, cannot lah syok sendiri especially when they are paying you. And of course you got to listen to your team, on their takes towards the vision in producing and new things they would like to bring to the table.
Which project has been the most impactful or significant for you and why?
Zee Avi's Who Are U music video, one of my earliest directing role project. I’m so proud of the result despite the few hiccups on set and the tight budget that I had to work with. I learnt that preparation and planning are the only ways for you to get the best result in ANYTHING. Yeap, you can be the best creator in the world but if you fail at planning, trust me, things won’t go as you imagine it. Shoutout to Mama Zee for trusting my vision and allowing me to create together with her!
What is your personal ethos in life that has also influenced your creative works?
I had to Google the word ethos haha! Quoted from Aretha Franklin R.E.S.P.E.C.T. I personally think that as a creator that provides a space for many to “berkarya” (create), you just got to learn how to understand another creative before executing the work. It's really important to understand one's creativity and ideas; bersatu teguh, bercerai roboh.
What do you think creative youths right now should know?
To just create/ learn/ experience whatever damn thing that you want and really stop doubting yourself in creating. The only reason why I’m here right now doing this is because I exposed myself to all kinds of working experiences. You won’t get lost if you keep moving, even if it’s tje wrong direction.
Film sets must be so wild! Do you have any hilarious moments on set that you can share with us?
So I did a Chinese New Year ad recently, and its funny cause even though I wrote the script, I I had no clue what was going on on set because the whole thing was in Cantonese. After the whole month of planning and working for this ad, I can proudly say that I know a few words in Cantonese now: Ngo Ngoi Nei!
What kind of artist do you wish to be in the future?
To be able to spread joy and love throughout the visuals that I create with my team on set and at the same time, sharing my culture, heritage and understanding toward life to the whole wide world. Dream big they said, and honey, dreaming is my num' 1 hobby.
Lastly, please share with us 3 of your local creative crushes and their IG handles to shoutout!
Nadirah Zakariya - @nadirahzakariya
Divya Nair - @divyaleenair
Kel Wen - @kel_wen