RADIO DJ and YouTube filmmaker Jin Lim never expected he’d become a household name in Malaysia. He talks to Sarah Lim about his rise to fame, JinnyBoyTv and how he wants to be a voice for his country.
Do you want to be famous or not?
That was the question that started it all – at least, for Jin Lim, Malaysian radio DJ and one half of the Malaysian video-making sensation JinnyBoyTV.
Before he became renowned for the short films he now puts up on his YouTube channel – which happens to have 50,000 subscribers and counting – Jin lived just like any other Malaysian.
The 27-year-old grew up in Subang, a suburb close to the bustling city of Kuala Lumpur. In 2006, he went to Perth, Australia, where he studied marketing and advertising at Curtin University.
“Actually, I wanted to be a pilot when I was young,” Jin reveals.
“But I wear glasses, so I gave up on that.”
He then returned home and started working for the promotions department of Hitz.fm, Malaysia’s leading English-language radio station. But it wasn’t long before he was offered a gig as a radio announcer for the station. It was then that the ultimate question was thrown at him – “do you want to be famous?”
He was apprehensive and unsure of himself, but Jin answered yes. And soon words became reality.
Jin soon set up a YouTube channel under the name “JinnyboyTV”. It was meant to be an avenue for him to post videos of his radio interviews so non-radio listeners would have the chance to watch them. He had no intention of being a filmmaker.
“I bought a camera for myself, and my mum said to me that she believed I would use the camera for only three months then put it aside for the rest of the year,” Jin recalls.
“So I used that as motivation to make just one short film.”
Looking back, the idea doesn’t seem so unnatural now. Jin says he had been an avid viewer of clips by US YouTubers Wong Fu Productions and David Choi. Plus he loved the challenge of trying something new.
So Jin made Ah Wing – Malaysia’s Number 1 Salesman. And what was meant to be a one-off became the start of a new adventure.
“I thought to myself that at least, when I grow old and die I can tell myself that I’ve made a film before. I don’t care how many hits it makes.”
The video surpassed any of his expectations. It racked up 103,000 views in four days, the channel was getting subscribers and Jin’s email inbox was overflowing with people saying they loved the film.
Despite all that encouragement, Jin admitted he actually didn’t think about shooting another video. He just couldn’t be bothered.
But the emails kept coming. Finally, Jin decided to ask Reuben Kang, the star of Ah Wing – and a good friend – whether he wanted to make another film. And that was the start of their partnership.
Since then, JinnyboyTV has enjoyed even more success in the forms of ABUDEN?! and My Generasi. The latter received one million views in four days, after going viral on Facebook.
“We never expected any of these videos to have such a huge response.”
“It really is insane,” he says, still sounding like he can’t quite believe his luck, even now.
So what does the future hold for Jin?
Having worked in both radio and on online platforms, Jin believes it could be in new media. He says online media could overtake mainstream press such as newspapers, TV and radio.
“I do think that people still need radio though,” he says with a smile.
Jin offers some advice for students wanting to craft a career in new media – don’t try to make it big in the industry, just do what you love.
And he’s taking his own advice, keeping himself busy with his many projects including a sequel to JinnyboyTV’s latest short, Unfold.
“We’ll keep making videos because we love what we do,” he says.
“But the reason why we are so passionate about what we do is because we want to show the world that Malaysia has a voice.”