Associate, Content Development, GenNext Studios, Astro, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Bachelor of Creative Technologies
He enjoys understanding what goes into making a TV show or a movie, says Mikhail Ali who now creates content for Astro Ceria, Malaysia's top kids’ TV channel.
“I project manage the creation of ground-breaking, innovative and franchisable content for family TV shows, kids’ TV shows and, in some cases, our pay per view content. I usually start by conducting surveys to find out what our customers want, and am involved in anything from the ideation stage, timetabling and organising the marketing, to launching the programme and then reviewing its success post-launch. I always try to inject my personality into the content we create, keeping in mind the customers’ needs first.”
One of his responsibilities is being one of the executive producers for SMK, which was Malaysia's highest-rated live-action scripted kids’ series on Astro Ceria in 2019.
“The show is a comedy series that revolves around the adventures of nine quirky classmates and how they navigate secondary school life. Due to the popularity of season 1, SMK was renewed for a second season that launched at the end of 2020. It also turned out to be a resounding success. This time the team managed to secure a branded sponsorship with Nivea.
“I also co-produced and co-creative-directed a short, animated spinoff called SMK Animasi in conjunction with promoting the finale of season 2. This pilot, at its peak, ranked 37th on YouTube Malaysia's trending chart and achieved 400,000 views within the first two weeks of its launch. A telemovie based on the same characters – SMK Raya Dekat Jauh – won the award for the Best Quarantine-themed Drama/Feature/Programme at the ContentAsia Awards 2020."
A passion for technology
He has always been curious about technology, says Mikhail who came to AUT as an international student from Malaysia to study a Bachelor of Creative Technologies.
“Initially I wanted to be an engineer as I was interested in physics and technologies. But then, during my A levels, I realised that I was starting to I lean towards a more creative career.”
It was his uncle in New Zealand who pointed him towards studying at AUT.
“I heard about AUT from my uncle who searched for a degree in creative technologies for me and saw that AUT’s Bachelor of Creative Technologies is a combination of art, design, engineering and entrepreneurship. That suited me perfectly since it was an interdisciplinary and open-ended approach to creativity.”
Inspiration and creative freedom
Throughout his time at AUT, Mikhail loved learning in a studio environment, working on a range of different projects together with his classmates.
“During my Bachelor of Creative Technologies at AUT I worked on a lot of projects where we collaborated in teams, and managed deadlines and different expectations. It was so easy to explore your ideas. The lecturers gave us themes to explore which served as our base to kickstart a project and then we were given plenty of creative freedom.
“I loved that from the get-go, we were used to working in different roles within a creative team. When I started my career, I was already familiar with this process thanks to my time at AUT.”
The support from the lecturers was amazing, Mikhail says.
“They really supported my creative process and pushed me further. I found the lecturers really inspiring. For example, Dr Clinton Watkins sometimes took us to the nearby Auckland Art Gallery and then we discussed as well as reflected on our experiences afterwards. That helped my creative process a lot. Now I often go to the art galleries here in Kuala Lumpur to see what others have created if I want to feel inspired.”