The boy who knew too much: a child prodigy

This is the true story of scientific child prodigy, and former baby genius, Ainan Celeste Cawley, written by his father. It is the true story, too, of his gifted brothers and of all the Cawley family. I write also of child prodigy and genius in general: what it is, and how it is so often neglected in the modern world. As a society, we so often fail those we should most hope to see succeed: our gifted children and the gifted adults they become. Site Copyright: Valentine Cawley, 2006 +

Monday, February 01, 2010

A need to understand art.

There is, I feel, a need to better understand art and the artist, in Malaysia. I have in mind one particular art - that of film-making. It is clear that, the powers that be, have an incomplete understanding of how this artform is created and what input the director makes. I shall explain.

Recently, Malaysia declared that it was going to change the law of censorship on film-making. In the future, films would no longer be subject to censorship after they were made - ie. which scenes would need to be cut, or altered in some way - no, soon films would be censored BEFORE they were made. I thought this both incredibly dangerous and motivated by a misunderstanding of how films are made.

Firstly, the danger is that films will be prevented from production, or have their scripts so forcibly altered that they lose some essential artistic or creative point that the director and writer were trying to make. This can weaken films considerably and push them over the edge into becoming failures as art, or even as items of commerce: it can destroy a film, to cut it, too much.

Secondly, this new initiative ignores the fact that the director has considerable input as to how a scene is rendered: something that seems offensive to sensitivities at the stage of the script (the new stage at which it would be cut), might, actually, once made, be done with taste and respect for the sensitivities of the public - it might, in actual fact, LOSE ITS OFFENSIVENESS, in the process of being filmed. It is impossible for the film censors to second guess the intention and viewpoint of the director. They cannot determine at the stage of the script whether a particular scene is going to offend or not, until it has actually been filmed and edited for viewing.

I understand why the censors might wish to edit at the stage of the script. They might feel it saves everyone time all around. A quick read of the script and they can prevent many days of film making time being wasted filming something which they would cut out, anyway. However, as I have pointed out, it is wrong-headed to jump to conclusions about what a film will look like, once shot, from the very preliminary stage of a script: much happens between script and cinema release, much that can completely change the character of what is seen.

I admit that I am somewhat puzzled that they wish to change a system of post filming, censorship, to one of pre-filming censorship. I am puzzled because it introduces an unnecessary inhibitory force into the film-making. It means that films will be stalled that would not have offended at all, had they actually been made - because the director would have made changes between script and film.

This failing of understanding about how films are made and how fluid the process is, is, no doubt, not restricted to Malaysia, but this is the first time I have personally noted this type of censorship in place. Perhaps it exists elsewhere, but, in reality, it should exist nowhere. It inhibits creativity and cannot be good for the nation of Malaysia, in any way. Yes, it will ensure that offensive films are never made - but, and this is a big but, it will also ensure that films that would NEVER HAVE BEEN offensive, once made, would have cuts made to them, that could be to the detriment of the artistic process and resultant films. This can only harm Malaysian film.

I do not know when these changes are to be implemented - but perhaps a rethink might be in order. Perhaps the fact that directors often make considerable changes from what is written on the page, should be taken into consideration and this new policy scrapped.

Then again, there is another reason why censorship should only come AFTER the film is made. That is because directors DO make considerable changes. Thus, a film which is NOT offensive on the page, could BECOME offensive, in the act of filming. Thus, censoring at the script stage makes NO SENSE AT ALL. It would mean that films that would have been inoffensive, get censored - and films that looked inoffensive on the page, get made and become offensive by the time they reach the screen.

The only time that makes logical sense to exert censorship is after the film has been shot and edited and is ready to present for screening. At this point, the film should be viewed and any sensitive scenes reviewed, cut or edited once more. Any other policy is built on a lack of insight into the film making process.

I hope, therefore, that those in charge of this new initiative will take heed and implement a censorship process that pays heed to the realities of film-making.

(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, 10, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, 6 and Tiarnan, 4, this month, please go to:

I also write of gifted education, child prodigy, child genius, adult genius, savant, megasavant, HELP University College, the Irish, the Malays, Singapore, Malaysia, IQ, intelligence and creativity.

My Internet Movie Database listing is at:
Ainan's IMDB listing is at
Syahidah's IMDB listing is at

Our editing, proofreading and copywriting company, Genghis Can, is at

This blog is copyright Valentine Cawley. Unauthorized duplication is prohibited. Use only with permission. Thank you.)

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 2:23 PM 


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