CHANGING OF THE GUARD. Gandhi Fernando opens up about the trials and tribulations of being an Indonesian filmmaker and about the joys of becoming a game-changer.
Outfit, scarf and shoes by Louis Vuitton
Having to break new ground in a well-established industry is no small feat, especially in one as dynamic as Indonesia’s film industry. Actor, director, and producer Gandhi Fernando is all too familiar with the difficulties awaiting new players eager to carve their own niche in the face of firmly entrenched competitors and deep-rooted alliances. Still, he soldiers on. And he’s been quite busy as a result.
“I’ve just released ‘Pizza Man’ in theaters,” he begins, “And we’ve just done shooting ‘Zodiac Theory,’ and I’ve also wrapped up ‘Midnight Show,’ a thriller-slasher film. I’m also about to start promoting the sequel to ‘Comic 8,’ since I’ll be in it as well.” Not that this is anything unusual for him. When asked about what he does outside of work, he sheepishly replies, “Nothing, that’s it.” Then, he laughs while adding, “I literally have no life. I even work on Sundays.”
While his drive is clearly evident, he also has the know-how to back it up. Fernando learned the finer points of filmmaking and acting at the New York Film Academy in Los Angeles. “I also double-majored in business and management of entertainment at UCLA [University of California, Los Angeles],” he adds. All that sounds indeed like the complete package: an actor trained in both stagecraft as well as the nitty-gritty details that keep the stage in business. What he wasn’t prepared for when he returned to Indonesia in late 2012, at least not initially, was the realities of the local showbiz industry.
“Our country and our people don’t really support national films,” he laments. “While out there they’re really rallying behind their own films. They’ll even block foreign films wherever possible.” It’s a classic paradigm in the country, with imported films drawing in huge crowds and little appreciation afforded to local productions. The whole situation is doubly ironic for Fernando, who found that foreign audiences were apparently quite intrigued when he tried screening titles like “Laskar Pelangi” and “30 Hari Mencari Cinta.”