Fadzlie Musthafa

Making everything count

Article from the Sun daily by Marion Fernando (posted on 23 October 2018)

A WONDERFUL mix of intense civic consciousness, love for storytelling, and clever entrepreneurship is what led Fadzlie Musthafa to set up his two companies, Telltale Studios and Twentytwo Hub.

The former is a full-fledged production house, and the latter a creative branding agency he co-founded with friend and business partner, Luqmal Hadi.

Always championing for the underdog and the overlooked, the 28-year-old filmmaker has managed to combine his skills for telling meaningful stories with a business that keeps his creative wheels spinning.

Considering your background in filmmaking, what made you want to run a startup like Twentytwo Hub?

"[It's] every film student's dream, you know, to graduate and have their own production house, but it's not as easy as that.

"You always start from the bottom, you know, [as] project assistant, crew, and then you build up a career.

"That is one career I'm really interested to have a future in, but also … I always have this kind of thing [where] I want to give back.

"By having Twentytwo Hub, I can share the knowledge, not just [in terms of] videography but also marketing, advertising, branding [with] small business owners.

"The kind of people that don't have the budget, or cannot really afford bigger agencies.

"I want to give the platform to them, [and] filmmaking kinda pioneered it, like oh, I can help tell good stories [that] inspire people.

"'Hub' means everything. So I can do video content. I can do marketing.

"I can do branding. Then there's business process improvement, which is to analyse an existing business, their problems, and how they can grow out of it."

Small scale businesses are your target audience. Why?

"Of course the bigger [businesses] like GLCs, MNCs, are our target as well, but we focus more on [smaller businesses] … in Malay there's [a saying], 'whatever I have is not mine'.

The knowledge, the skill is not mine. It's only being lent to me.

"Entrepreneurship is very lonely (laughs).

"This I can tell you, it's very lonely and it's a struggle, because I don't have a BBA or an MBA.

"I have no [formal] business background at all. I'm a film student.

"From that, I grew to have my own company. And I want to help people build companies.

"It's knowledge that I've learnt through, of course, from reading, and from courses.

"Big companies already have money to spend, so it's just a day-to-day kind of operation for them, but for small businesses, they're struggling, just like how I struggled before.

"You need money to sustain [your business] that is true, but it's a different kind of satisfaction [than] what I get from it.

"You'll need money to sustain. You need all these big clients as well, but it's the same mindset I have when I create my stories.

"I like to make stories that inspire people, you know, move people to do something.

"Stories that have a deeper meaning that can connect with the audience. That is my favourite kind of content."

How do you combine your passion for telling stories, and running a creative branding agency?

"In every decision that I make, it's always based on creative decisions.

"So [with] Telltale, it's more on creating content, videos, story boarding, all those things.

"But [with] Twentytwo Hub, it's more [like] how do you elevate this business.

"You have to think creatively. Okay, [the client] has this huge stockpile, how do I sell it?

"So you're still creatively thinking of doing that.

"It's the same method, different application.

"Sometimes I need to come up with a campaign, which relates back to Telltale."

What's most instrumental for a young entrepreneur to turn an idea into a business?

"I think perseverance and passion. If you don't like what you are doing, you will not follow through. I cannot [count] how many times I wanted to quit doing what I want to do.

"A lot of people don't really want to go big right away. The way I started it … boom, I got a premise –[rent] is very expensive – then I got staff. So I skipped a few phases.

"You have to put [on] a few different hats so you have to be multitasking.

"There was a point whereby, it was so hard to survive, because to [sustain] this kind of business, you need income [but] it's not just about the money, it's about the hard labour, the time ...

"It's our decision whether we want to do it or not."


A film that changed your outlook on life? The Road Home by Zhang Yimou.

Favourite director? Wes Anderson.

Favourite book that should be made into a movie? "I don't have a book actually but I have an event which is, our latest general election. It reminds us what the true power of unity can really achieve."

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