With a smartphone, everyone can make a short film. The Micro Film Competitions provide a platform for locals and immigrants, young and old to express their connections to Singapore through their lenses.
Each morning, Wang Ying Bei catches Bus 32 from River Valley to Chung Cheng High School in Katong. The 30-minute journey is predictable and mundane, until one morning when she filmed the entire journey with her simple point-and-shoot camera.
To her surprise, she started to notice details of the scenes which she sees every day but never paid attention to. Part of the footage from her bus journey went into her micro film, “Singapore Memories”, which she produced with her schoolmate, Joyce Lin, when they were just Secondary 2 students.
Ying Bei and Joyce are both 18 and natives of China, came to Singapore to study eight to ten years ago. “Singapore holds many memories of our growing up years. It bears witness to all our small and big experiences. Therefore, we wanted to capture all the important landmarks and places of interest in Singapore in our film,” recounted Ying Bei who shared how the film-making process was an eye-opening experience which brought them to places they had not been to before, such as the dragon playground in Toa Payoh and a pedestrian underpass in Clarke Quay painted with beautiful murals.
For Wang Yue, who came to Singapore in 2008 for her post-graduate studies and now teaches at SIM University, film is a way for self-expression.
Her micro film, “Endless Summer” revealed the internal struggles of a young man choosing between his dreams and a stable lifestyle. It mirrored Wang Yue’s feelings and experiences as a migrant and her deliberation between pursuing a career in business studies and venturing into film-making.
Why micro film?
When one pauses and reflects on deeper issues such as “who am I”, “where do I belong”, and “what does the future hold”, many different thoughts and emotions may surface. These may serve as the basis for creative works telling captivating stories, and micro film is one such medium that can bring bring ideas to life.
Unlike shooting a full length movie, making a micro film is easier as it is just a short video. For this competition, entries could even be as short as 30 seconds or up to 10 minutes in length, and could be stories, documentaries or animation.
Ying Bei, Joyce, and Wang Yue are award recipients in the first run of the “My Singapore Story” Mico Film Competition organised by the Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations (SFCCA), Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre (SCCC) and Lianhe Zaobao in 2015 to tie in with the SG50 celebrations. More than 100 entries were received, portraying Singapore through the eyes of both locals and foreigners, in stories and documentaries peppered with humour, nostalgia, romance and facts.
Ying Bei, Joyce, and Wang Yue sharing their experiences at a panel with other filmmakers and experts.
For the second round of the competition in 2016-2017, participants were invited to work on the theme, “My Singapore Future”, continuing the narrative from the first round. Again, it hopes to connect locals, new citizens and residents, including those who do not know Mandarin, in a common pursuit.
Dr Zhou Zhao Cheng, Co-Chairman of the “My Singapore Future” Micro Film Competition and SFCCA’s Council Member and Chairman of Social Affairs Committee, shared on the choice of this genre.
“In this current era of technology and social media where people can access massive information at the click of a button on their smartphones and gadgets, the attention span of the target audience can be very limited. Micro film allows for creative expression and yet participants must style their storyboard within a certain time frame so that key messages may be sent across effectively,” he said.
To the future
To engage participants with the competition theme, SFCCA organises sharing sessions and workshops where filmmakers and community leaders share film-making tips and their perspectives. At one such session, Co-Chairman of the “My Singapore Future” Micro Film Competition and CEO of SCCC, Choo Thiam Siew, challenged aspiring micro film makers to interpret “My Singapore Future” not only in terms of “hardware” or “technology” but also “heartware” and “society”
Mr Choo said, “We hope to see films that touch on how Singapore’s society, culture and life will be like in future. What are your own hopes for Singapore? How will you present that through a micro film? Start from your heart.”
At the same session, local director Royston Tan shared his passion in documenting disappearing old scenes and trades in Singapore and how a video can engage the audience deeply. He encouraged participants to explore the connectedness between people and how this was likely to change in future.
Find your story
Indeed, the competition is a creative attempt to bring people together to think about their own story and hopes, intertwined with Singapore’s past and future.
How do you feel about Singapore and what are your aspirations for this country? Whether you are born in Singapore or came from another part of the world, is this your home, a place where you belong? Which of the stories will you see yourself in?
If you had missed the opportunity to take part in the competition, catch the winning films instead. You might also start to ponder these issues as you watch the stories on “My Singapore Future”.
Watch the winning films at http://microfilm.zaobao.com.