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Rubber boy director says ‘pride is gone’ after plagiarism allegations taint Petronas commercial

Ismail Kamarul

Ismail Kamarul, pic: Viddsee

The director of ‘Rubber boy’, the Petronas film whose agency creators were accused of copying the idea and script from another film-maker earlier this week, has mounted an emotional defence of the work and expressed regret that the film, which was shortlisted for craft at Cannes, will forever be tainted by the allegations.

Ismail Kamarul, who is a director with Reservoir Production in KL, wrote in a Facebook post this evening (Tuesday) that the concept for a film “always starts with the agency” and the agency script is a “figurative Bible”, and countered claims made by fellow film-maker Tan Chui Mui that both were her creations in the case of the well-liked Rubber boy Chinese New Year commercial.

Tan claims that she had pitched the idea and script to agency Leo Burnett Kuala Lumpur in 2014, which used her work two years later without her permission. Leo Burnett’s creative director, business director and CEO have all publicly refuted the allegations.

Using the hashtag #‎LeoBurnettPlagiarism‬ created by Tan, Kamarul first explained how the production process works, then detailed how three directors were given the same script to work on by the agency in 2014, which was shelved since the client did not run a CNY ad in 2015.

Rubber boy

‘Rubber boy’

Kamarul then pointed out that in 2016, when he received the agency’s script, it was not called Rubber boy and was “distinctly different” to the one of two years earlier, and based on a different idea which the client deemed “too negative”.

The script was repeatedly re-written before arriving at the final version, Kamarul said, implying that the work could not have been of Tan’s creation.

He then lamented that the pride he had taken in creating Rubber Boy “is gone” because of the allegations.

The director added that even if the truth is proven in court (both Tan and Leo Burnett have said that they may take legal action over the matter) his work would forever be “tainted”.

Kamarul wrote: “Even if there were law suits, legal proceedings and the truth comes out staring at everyone in the face, no matter what the outcome of that is, the public will form their own opinions, and Rubber Boy will always be something, and I quote some people here, ‘makes [the late film-maker and Leo Burnett creative director] Yasmin Ahmad turn in her grave’. Heh, like as if you all know what would make Yasmin Ahmad turn in her grave…”

Kamarul’s post:

Tan Chui Mui's post on Facebook

Tan Chui Mui’s post on Facebook

Tan responded to Kamarul’s post this evening by praising his work in creating Rubber boy, but added: “I do not think it is his fault if Leo Burnett did not inform him that they were using my story.”

She then gave her own version of events again in a long blog posted in Facebook notes titled ‘Recalling and Recounting #LeoBurnettPlagiarism’ and argued that Kamarul did not go through the same process as her.

She also apologised to her readers, saying “I am sure you are as exhausted as I am. I hope I can take a break from this ‪#‎LeoBurnettPlagiarism‬ too!”

Rubber boy, which launched in February 2016, has been one of the most highly-praised commercial productions to come out of Southeast Asia this year. It has been viewed more than 3.3m times on YouTube.

Rubber boy credits:

Directed by Ismail Kamarul

Agency Producer // Melanie Ranatunga
Creative Director // James Yap
Art Director // Kelvin Low
Copywriter // Jaz Lee
Servicing Team //
Eswara V. A. N. Sharma
Amelia Peng
Kristen Li Yen DeSilva

Executive Producer // Adrian Lai
1st Assistant Director // Shane Nunis
2nd Assistant Director // Huixin Law
Line Producer // Sabrina Wong
Production Coordinator // Bernadette Alexandra Koh
Casting Director // Helen Rocket Science
Director of Photography // Eric Yeong
B Cam Operator // Cheong Mun Wai
Focus Pullers // Ganes Snwong Fendi Shareef Ang
Cam Assistants // Ucunn J. Wong Niceshot Khng
VTR // Simon Langgi
DIT // Samuel Lam
Production Designer // Jimmy Bong Soon Meng Tri Kings Enterprise
Art Dept // Richard Bong Ravikumar Mando Ruben Wong Bosco Siva
Location Manager // Eric Francis Mark Sashi
Key Grip // Visva Nathan
Grip Team // Ram Kumar Sritharan Munisamy
Gaffer // Adhli Afandy Alif
Lighting Team // Yunus Napiah, Pozie Fauzi, Hisham
Sound Man // Lawrence Chick & Team
Wardrobe // Siew Darren Hidayat Abbas Wardrobe Room@The Strand
Makeup // Yuki Ng
Facilities // Loga Ext EXT Enterprise
Runner Coordinator // Ganesh Poonudorai
Runner Team // Burn Tiben Kalai Reavati & Team
BTS Team // Yuki Eyok Wun Sim Kai Lau
Production Team // Nadia Hasnosurname Denise Emily Yew Eugene Miller Yeong

Offline Editor // Willie Ong @RESERVOIR
Colorist // Hilmy @APV
Post Producer // Chen Yoke Wah Asia Pacific Videolab
Online Artist // Soon Foon

Audio Producer // Wansuhaila Wan Othman
Music Composer // Ananth Kumar Sonicsoul Productions

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