The Independent Singapore (TISG) spoke to Director Kelvin Tong at the recent mentoring session for GV25 Film Shorts, a grant scheme for aspiring Singaporean filmmakers to produce a short film. He was one of the panel which included Director Boris Boo and Youtube influencers Tree Potatoes.
Mr Kelvin Tong is renowned for his motorcycle kung fu story, Eating Air (1999), and horror film The Maid (2005). He was the first local filmmaker delivering a Hollywood blockbuster with The Faith of Anna Waters (2016).
“I feel both annoyed and excited at occasions like this.”
“I’m annoyed because I need to explain the basics of filmmaking as participants are not experienced,” he remarked jokingly.
“However, it’s exciting because as I went through those basics, I got to remind myself of those skills again. At the same time, it’s a humbling experience, to see these young kids with their interesting ideas and enthusiasm – they can’t wait to go out and produce something.”
“I don’t see them as members of the public. With the advancement of the media, anyone is a film producer. It’s nothing like 20 years ago, when film making was a complicated and an inaccessible process. Now, everyone with a smartphone can do films.”
Local filmmaking doing OK
Mr Tong said Singapore filmmaking is making progress.
“The film industry in Singapore isn’t long to begin with. And due to our small size, it’s hard to compare with Thailand or South Korea, where the domestic box offices are huge and film industries are healthy.”
“It’s a lot harder in Singapore – but I’m not complaining because I made it, and I am it, together with my peers like Royston, Erik and Anthony.”
“Platforms like GV25 Shorts should be encouraged. Filmmaking taught in school often exists in a vacuum. GV will place the films on screen, whereby the films will have audience. The feedbacks are important to young filmmakers. The works will achieve more clarity from partial failures through audience awareness.”
More women in industry
Apart from the observable rise of young people participating the competition, Mr Tong highlighted a notable change.
“I see more girls in this industry, unlike in the past, when film industry and studios were largely dominated by males. It’s terrible. Men chose men to direct film. The new pattern today makes me happy.”
“The irony is that the female viewership of movies is increasing. The most recent example is Wonder Woman.”
“We don’t tread water. We don’t plainly increase the number of filmmaking, or do those silly comedies.”
“I do sense change. The variety of the local films is increasing.”
Local director Boris Boo, a prominent local director who brought to audience famous comedies Where Got Ghost, The Ghosts Must be Crazy and upcoming feel-good movie Lucky Boy.
He added: “I’m so intrigued by the variety of genres of the entries. I am looking forward to seeing the three films come to life.”
Janice Chiang of Tree Potatoes, famous local Youtube influencers with over 380k subscribers also said: “We were extremely impressed by the submissions from the eight finalists. It was clear that they each put in tremendous effort into their presentations with passion for filmmaking.”
The three finalists will have three months to complete the film production. The winner will be chosen by the panel of judges and a social media public vote, with each receiving a cash prize of S$3,000 and the opportunity to have their films screened in Golden Village’s multiplexes across Singapore.