Driven to Excel: Mamad AK (Muhammad Abdul Khalid)

MUHAMMAD Abdul Khalid has found an international audience for his videos. Red Bull recently commissioned this 26-year-old who goes by the name Mamad AK to produce a parkour video for its Youtube channel.

His entry into videography began with plenty of ambition. But no camera. “I was kind of desperate looking at videos on Youtube and I was looking for a DSLR camera that shoots video.”

At that time, he was studying at Maktab Teknik Sultan Saiful Rijal and was saving up his allowance. And he needed to raise more money so he could buy a camera. He recalls selling equipment owned by his mother.

Mamad admits the first few videos he uploaded were trial and error. “I don’t have a background in filming, video or editing.”He learnt by creating skate and parkour videos, anything that could help him hone his videography skills.

After completing Interior Design at Brunei Polytechnic, he decided not to apply for any jobs in related fields to the dismay of his parents. “They said ‘you could just do video part-time’. They don’t understand that,”he says, adding that he persisted and continued producing video.

Early in his career, Mamad’s work which he posted online impressed Bahrumnuddin Hj Jaili of BJE studios. Bahrum offered Mamad his first paid work in wedding videography. This stint encouraged him to start his own company, Axgraphy, in 2012 with friends.

While working on clients’ wedding videos, he was also trying to pursue personal video projects. He struggled to meet client deadlines during the first months working as a full-time videographer. “I had a lot of pending videos, so that was quite disappointing for me and my clients. But I took it as my learning process.”Now the budding film-maker has sought to improve his time management.

In 2013, Mamad initiated a video with Jawed El Breni, a stuntman who has worked on numerous Hollywood films around Kampong Ayer. Mamad’s motivation was to show the public something new but also for future generations to see the water village from a different perspective. It is through such collaborations with other talents that opportunities are created in the film industry, he says.

“The more connections you get, the farther you go. That’s what I think. That is what motivates me to approach people when they have something or a talent.”

One person whom Mamad approached while at a parkour meet was Malaysian parkour professional athlete Abudi Alsagoff. They later collaborated on two videos and one was aired on Astro’s TV channel Al-Hijrah. Mamad’s work was enough to impress Red Bull to commission a video of Abudi in Dubai.

Mamad also worked with Radio Televisyen Brunei (RTB) as a linear news editor after the state broadcaster saw his videos online. It was a chance to see how RTB worked. Mamad pushed to have a short promotional video that he would later direct and edit for broadcast.

“I could say those are my proudest moments, since you had never seen a video like that on RTB. Watching your own work aired on TV feels great. It’s like I made history.”

Getting high on these achievements, however, requires a real appreciation of the craft and the people he meets.

He says the people he works with –their talent –motivate him to create videos. “For parkour and stuff, you appreciate the talent, you just (feel the) need to show it to people.”

And he matches their talent with his own passion to capture those compelling frames. Mamad has taken risks to get the shot that he wants, going into abandoned buildings, scaling high walls and standing untethered on trucks. “I was standing on the back of a 4X4 truck. I had to pretend it was a car crane to get a shot but it was pretty effective –the shot. There are risks, but along the way nobody is injured.”

He knows he has a lot to learn still. “I’m not saying I’m the best, I’m still learning trying to be the best…As for now, I want my work to be recognised by people in Brunei, not just Brunei but worldwide as well.”