It took me that long to realise, I actually want to be part of the film industry.
I know it sounds pretty rdiculous cause I am in film school and I should have already felt that zest when I started out, but those close to me would know that I’ve always wanted to be a vet. Well, not always, but since the age of 13-14 I guess. I grew to love animals when we got Suzie, and I began to care for them way to much. Predator-prey relationships puts me in extreme emotional stress because I don’t want the deers to be eaten, neither do I want the lions to starve. So I worked really hard to improve my Sciences because I am not naturally good with Science. I had a plan to go to Murdoch to fulfill that Veterinary Course but no matter how hard I worked to get my Science grades up, I couldn’t get higher than a pass. So I gave up the idea of being a Vet and really reevaluated my reasons – being a Vet would mean saving animals’ lives, it would also mean getting a decent pay, and maybe being a Vet wasn’t my calling because I would not be able to put an animal to sleep. I would be trying desperately to save it. Being a Vet also means being objective, which I can’t do.
So back when I was 16, when my dad asked me what is my other option should I be rejected for Vet school, I told him this – “I want to be a filmmaker,” to which he replied, “those are very big dreams you have.” Today, I’m in my final year of filmschool in LASALLE College of the Arts. I made it this far. To be honest, I could have done well for my A’s because I was already doing well for the most part of it. I could have had a better JC life if I had known more people instead of being this anti-social, quiet, geeky girl. I was offered to be nominated to be in Student Council, I rejected that offer. I have been in Student Council clubs all my life and in CCA’s, and my goal was to just work hard to get through the A’s to get into NUS for the sake of getting into NUS. I had many chances, I took none, and when I got too emotionally affected, and already won the half journey of my JC life, I decided to just give it all up. I am talking about my grades. I decided that I would like to start having fun for once and to just stop being so tensed. So I stopped studying really hard for it. Although I knew I wouldn’t do as well as I had envisioned it, or as well as my potential, I couldn’t let go of the idea of just wanting to just say “screw this shit, I’m done,” cause that’s exactly what I wanted to do. Wanting to get into NUS was only because I wanted to prove to myself and to some of my relatives that love being nosy about my grades, that I could make it in to a local university, and not just any local university, the top in Singapore! Of course, that never happened and during the holidays after the A’s, I was already in to recording things for the sake of just videoing, and editing them together using free (lousy) editing software such as Windows Movie Maker. I kid you not! So I worked on documenting in video the journey the confirmants took under my church’s youth group, Project Jesus. I was satisfied though now when I look at it, I think “Dear Lord, what shit video did I make.”
Over breakfast one day, my dad’s friends were advising us what to do in Hong Kong for our trip and the wife asked me what was I interested in and I told her that I had recently picked up my mum’s camcorder, just filming random things. Apparently, she was doing a Masters Degree course in Fine Arts in LASALLE, and told me to pop by one day as there is a Film Degree Course there. So I did and she helped me to get acquainted with Gisli, the head of filmschool, and setting up a proper portfolio. I got in, and received this lovely acceptance letter on my 20th Birthday itself. What did I present to them during my interview, a stupid script I wrote because I was so amused with the screenwriting software, Final Draft 8, that one of my Instagram followers whom I have never met, told me about. So I learned how to use it on my own. Don’t know why Gisli was happy with my work cause when I read it today, I think it’s really one lousy script. Maybe he saw my determination and interest and maybe that’s how I got lucky. I don’t know but well, I am here aren’t I?
Upon embarking on my Lasalle journey, I learned a lot and I also learned, every single day, of the challenges of being in this industry. And as that information was constantly drilled in me, my flame started diminishing and I no longer felt that I wanted to be in this industry. I didn’t want to give up because I might as well stay and learn more since that place was offered to me, and I treasured that offer. I told myself that I would stay but I wouldn’t want to enter this industry because it wouldn’t be a stable enough job for me and I don’t think I can be accustomed to it. One year became two years, two years became three. It was only this year that I realised, this is really what I want to do and where I want to be. I don’t want some office job. I would love the pay, wouldn’t love what I do. I want to make films – not as a director but in terms of building the set. I would like to meet and know people through documentary, and experience their lives, wear their shoes and really understand what it really means to be them. This is life.
Just yesterday, after meeting one of my documentary subjects, he told me that he sees I have a very good heart and that my intentions are pure, that he was blessed to have crossed paths with me. I think I’m the one who is blessed to have this topic fall into my hands like that. I don’t know if I really do have a good heart sometimes, cause I feel that’s just people’s first impression of me. I can be really nasty sometimes actually cause I am very temparemental. But yeah, what he said really affirmed me yesterday, and affirmed me of my decision to carry on in this industry eventually. When our lecturers were getting to know us, they asked us this question “what’s your reason for choosing film?” I replied, “To impact and influence.” That was just the first thought that came to my mind, but I wasn’t convinced of my own reply. Today, I have it. It is to discover life, what it means to live through other people. It is to learn and never stop learning. As a filmmaker, I get to be so many things – I have the option of journeying to places I have never seen or been before, I get to see life through many perspectives and dimensions, I get to play investigator and historian in my studies of making films, I get to imagine I am picasso in designing a beautiful set, I get to feel so much and in feeling, I give back. People might tell me that the real deal is to really travel then. Sadly, I do not have the money for it, but not sadly enough, making films provides me that enriched experience of really living and learning new cultures, all at the comfort of being at home.
Jay told me, that maybe when I am 60 I will know why I was where I am now and why it was all meant to be. I think I already know the reasons why and I think I’m currently going through the process of really appreciating it. I am beyond stress with my assignments, but it’s no longer the stress that makes me wanna sigh and cry, it is the stress that fuels my excitement. I know I am so close now and I am filled with so much excitement to really take the bull by the horns for my final year.