How to do a Q&A

After the screening of Perfumed Nightmare (1977) just as the audience was about to rush out, the room grew completely dark and the bongo drums started. The director Kidlat Tahimik came bounding into the light in a loin cloth dancing with his son round the stage. Great film, weird music, cute butt. A potent combination, all of us were too dumbstruck to leave, so riveted we were to our seats. Is he for real? He proceeded to taking a 30 minute Q&A in the same loin cloth. Almost naked. I should try the loin cloth/bongo drum for my Q&As one of these days. Talk about a memorable Q&A. Of course it would help if I made a memorable film too!


Invisible City Tee Shirts

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Tee shirts are a great promotional and fundraiser tool. Tip: Do order women’s cut tees too if you want women to buy it ….and wear it. Most women went directly for the smaller more fitting cut rather than the boxy men’s cut.
pix: Jasmine Ng is seen here purveying quality Invisible City tees to my Mum’s cousin

the ego of the filmmaker

A quote from a presentation given by Slawomir Idziak (Kieslowski’s DP: Blue, Black Hawk Down, Harry Potter 5) at the Berlinale Talent Campus:

“Why are people in film schools not joining together to build a group under the name of Rolling Stones, or Beatles and making the picture and forgetting about ego? Forgetting about something which is very often their enemy.

When the four musicians meet each other, they sit and play music. With filmmakers meet the first time they start to compete who is the better. This is the difference. Our ego, which is very well developed to the education system, the entire system, doesn’t let us to play music with the other.”

A transcription of his talk here

A Malaysian film company set up by filmmakers, Dahuang Pictures

Things they don’t tell you

Invisible City’s press screening takes place tomorrow. This is the screening for press before the documentary opens. I have never read an accurate account of what it really feels like the night before a big screening, so I will tell you. I feel totally vunerable and very fallible. This is the moment where I stand totally exposed before you, unadorned, and I deeply hope I connect with you, the audience, one way or other. If I don’t, ah well, at least I got to visit Snow City. Peace!

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pix by ampulets

insurance for filmmakers

A filmmaker friend asked me whether she should buy insurance for herself as she starts work on a middle budget film that has some overseas shooting. My stand is this: ALL filmmakers (not just directors, but crew members, even interns) MUST buy personal accident insurance for yourselves because of the higher risk of injury that being in this industry entails. I have been in many shoots in Singapore where safety is compromised because of the need to finish fast or where there is not enough personnel to ensure that a job is properly done. Double these risks if you are overseas and in unfamiliar terrain

Don’t depend on the coverage from your company because their insurance is likely to cover their equipment more than it covers you. If you are a freelance crew member, it may not cover you at all.
The genre of insurance to buy is called “personal accident” insurance. You can insure yourself for the scenario where you lose a limb or life caused by accidents. (eg one leg, $50,000, one toe $5,000). The bigger the cover amount, the higher the premium. Some insurance plans cover you for loss of income while you are hospitalised or immobile. Others pay for you to be airlifted back for treatment if you are injured overseas. All for as little as SGD200/year.
Please note that the personal accident insurance does not cover you for hospital expenses. For hospitalisation make sure that you have medishield coverage (or their private permutations like incomeshild or myshield etc). For wall to wall coverage, you should buy the rider too. Hospital bills, especially prolonged stays can wipe your family out.

I googled and came up with some plans: NTUC income, AXA, for personal accident coverage please feel free to add to list

This is a no brainer. Buy it!

Short courses

Continuing on from film school confidential, if you are looking for short film courses, apart from those conducted by DMA, Objectifs‘, look to the plethora of short film/video courses conducted by Australian Film and TV School . I attended the course by Rob Marchand on directing using Mike Leigh’s method of improvisation, it is highly recommended. He was able to articulate the craft very well. NFTRS (UK) has a similar short course programme. Singaporeans/PRs can apply for MDA’s Capability Development Scheme for partial funding.

Ubuweb: Youtube of the Avant Garde

I was looking for Farocki’s Inextinguisable Fire (1969) and lamenting that it would be impossible to find it in Singapore when I stumbled upon an amazing trove It hosts works by Robert Frank, Peter Forgacs, audio of Om Kawara reading One Million Years amongst many others. With this site, one peeps into film from a parallel universe. Link


NYT 14 Feb, “Filmmakers, film-industry types and the journalists who love them often refer to something called the festival circuit, a sequence of hectic, semi-glamorous events that crowd the calendar and circle the globe. But it might be more accurate to speak of a festival system: a complicated, ever-expanding web in which the interests of commerce, art and criticism converge, sometimes in harmony and sometimes at cross-purposes.

Any festival is contingent, ephemeral, something of a pseudo-event. When it is over, there is a brief flurry of evaluation — Toronto was strong this year, Sundance was disappointing, whatever — but those judgments tend to fade as the movies themselves, the ostensible point of the whole enterprise, make their way in the world, or into oblivion, or onto the next festival.” Cont’d reading NYT

Film Traffic

There is always a department in film festivals called “Film Traffic” which has an army of people, usually volunteers, who make sure that all the film reels are in tact, cleaned and taped together in the right order for its screening. It is a thankless but a very very important job. I know this because years ago in the 90s, we had a rare screening of Edward Yang’s, A Brighter Summer Day in Singapore. Its rare event anywhere because the film is 3 plus hours long and the film hard to get. Anyway, the projectionist played the reels in the wrong order, for the three parts of the film, parts 2,3 were switched around. Sadly, a swathe of Singaporean’s know the film the wrong way round. The funny (though inexcusable) thing was, even in the wrong order, the film was still great. Now that takes real skill. This post is dedicated to them tape traffic people. The stills below are from the Rotterdam Film Festival 06 Film Traffic Room

rain dogs (太阳雨)opens tomorrow

rain dogs poster.jpgI have been following Ho Yuhang’s career from across the causeway ever since I saw his first feature Min in 2002 at SIFF. Min, a bare bones DV feature is a quiet film about a Malay bred young woman’s search for her Chinese biological mother. It was an assured first feature and I wondered what he could produce with more resources. Two years ago, Hong Kong company Focus Films, also the sales agent for Singapore GaGa, produced his third feature Rain Dogs. I saw it at Pusan International Film Festival in a cramped video booth and I am still in admiration. Book now, am afraid that it will disappear from GV cinemas without a blip. Rise of Malaysian Chinese Cinema