Chattering up Cine65 - student entries + Predictions!

Here is part 2 of the Cine65 dialogue between SINdie writers Jeremy and Yizhen. This time, it is the student category. Part 1 of Cine65 dialogue can be read here.
--

Jeremy: It is interesting to see how people interpret Singapore at this juncture when it is a country that in the middle soooo many changes. I mean the election, more online commentary and all

Yizhen: For sure. proliferation of online channels for people to go to for more sources have changed the scene drastically
J: What's are yr first thoughts on the entries?

Y: I think for the entires this year for cine65 is really impressive. it is interesting to see how different people interpret how they see Singapore as home and how they view what are the essential national values. how about u?

J: I see quite a spectrum. The good ones are really good. But there are also mediocre ones that are almost like total defence ads.However, there are no bad ones.... and i must say also that everyone seems to have access to very good quality cameras!

Y: My sentiments exactly!! If it were a few years ago, it'll be harder for people to get good cameras… but i guess that also goes to show how far sg film making has come to

J: Yes. And I bet many were shooting on the all-too-common 5D Mark 2 to give that film and TV ad look. I must also say that some of the student entries were neck and neck with the open professional categories. That being said, of course, students also = film students, not just secondary sch students haha

Y: There was also a primary school entry that got selected!

J: Was it the one with all the boys from the 3 races playing football?

Y: nope, it's "We must ourselves defend Singapore" nominated for best sound design

J: Ah, I remember that, students training in the jungle hahaha

Y: i assume "CCKPS Production" means cChua Chu Kang Primary School Production

Jeremy says: Haha, I did wonder for a while but CCK is a commonly used acronym for Chua Chu Kang in SG!

Y: yeah it is. don't we singaporeans love acronyms?

J: I hate it when people abuse it. And I love it when people use to unintentionally hilarious effect

Y: idea for next year's Sindie national day vid? :p

J: Possible. :) Looking at the student section... Favourite actress? (strange category though considering the little screen time each gets)

Y: yeah, agreed. but i think they judge on how endearing the actresses are to the viewer/judge?

J: Hahaha, that's funny. My fav among the nominees is the mother in why do I keep ticking? She is classic and does not mince her words! I have to say many of the other actors and actresses were more in posey shots.

Y: she is the most natural in front of the camera out of the rest of the nominees and the way she speaks is very relatable as well!

J: Like your mum? Haha

Y: YES

J: So you think she is best actress?

Y: for this category, i personally think its a close fight between Project Home actress and mother from Why Do I Keep Ticking. Si Ling, the little sister delivered her lines pretty well though the screenplay may be a little too staged… have to give credit to her as well, in my opinion.
Project Home


J: In Project Home I preferred the Ah Ma than the girl though :P

Y: haha the last scene when the ahma wiped her tears away got to you right

J: Yah. and I could not tell if the white hair and wrinkles were make up or not, some parts seemed to suggest that lady acting as the Ah Ma was a little younger than the real character.

Y: yeah agreed

J: Moving on, the favourite actor category is interesting. I mean even the Filipino guy in S.I.N.G.A. whi played a bit part got nominated!

Y: hahaha. It is a very interesting choice What's your take on the nominees? my favorite is the prata man how about yours?

J: Not difficult to make that choice, ain't it?

Y: among them all, yeah. he is very genuine when he delivers his lines and is v believable

J: He's the one who makes the most effort and his humour works! He's got such a knack for interacting with characters, especially the small girl

Y: haha yes! and the group of customers when he introduced his Singapore Prata

J: And I bet he did not need to rehearse too much!

Y: why do you say so?

J: He looks like a natural and his interaction with the little girl was a breeze. I think if he needed to rehearse a lot, it would have affected the little girl's performance, esp if she was made to do it over and over again

y: in short, he's a natural actor, somebody hire him already! wait, let him win this category first haha

J: Haha Notice this category is called the 'Favourite Actor' category

Y: so i guess we both agree the prata man should win?

J: not the best actor category. Yes I agree Prata man wins hands down

Y: yeah, so like i said, they are probably choosing actors who are most endearing to the judges not whether they have the longest screen time

J: Like the young in Homebound, he's more like being an eye-candy poster boy than acting his role. And what did you think of Butter Chong, the miniature singer? Haha

Y: true. he can be replaceable with any other good looking boy. i think butter chong is really funny! not bad

J: I would not say funny, but ernest, yes! What do you think of that video actually? The miniatures one?

Y: its cute. both actors really put in a lot of effort with all the exaggeration i think it helped to pump up the MV for some reasons i didn't mind the exaggerated acting for the mv

J: Yeah, I think it works and it is really spirited! But I wished they would cut down on the 'big' guy's reactions shots. We could have done with less repetitions. Made him seem a bit 'acting up'

Y: true but the original song they came up w is really catchy

J: Alright, away with the cynic in me, agree. :P

Y: that MV is not bad, they are nominated in other categories as well!

J: Yes, and I think they deserve to win Best Art Direction! Playing with miniatures, cuts outs, was a nice novel way to represent the over-used icons of Singapore. Sorry, correction , nauseating icons haha

Y: such a cynic! but i did enjoy this very lighthearted take about youths no longer knowing the history of Singapore

J: Yes, I think overall, it is very novel.

Y: how about cinematography who should win?

J: So you agree that Year of Independence deserves to win Best Art Direction?
Year of Independence


Y: yeah its the most interesting out of the other nominees

J: What's god art direction for you? I mean Year of Independence is an obvious choice, but if we take that out, which one would you have chosen?

Y: I think 2365. You?

J: I guess so. I am puzzled about the nominations of the other entries, they are good in other ways but art directon? Questionable

Y: hmm

2365


J: I have to say 2365 looks too ordinary though, with the best art decision in the film being the choice of using the shot from the inside of the letterbox. It's an ordinary shot but in the context of all that letter writing, that angle I felt adds visual meaning to the film. So much for a camera angle, haha, let's move on to cinematography

Y: haha alright

J: Whats yr choice?

Y: the singapore river. very iconic but then again, its an easy choice to shoot

J: Argh, we need to find one where we disagree! haha! So tell me why this is your favourite?

Y: hahahahah actually i kind of dislike and like the Singapore river choice

J: OH! Tell me why?!!!

Y: because the Singapore river location is such an easy location to think about but i believe other students would also shoot the singapore rivers as well i really enjoy the beautiful vintage feel or the cinematography

J: Yeah, the smooth and flawless tracking shots bowled me over

Y: the cinematography also works with the narration

J: Yes, the filters...but most importantly, I think the DOP mastered the pacing well

Y: yes

J: and the camera movements were well-timed with the character's reactions and movements

Y: however i found this video very similar to the 2011 SIA commercial (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lto5IomU25k)

Jeremy says: You just hit the nail of what I was about to say! The video definitely very TVC, and even more, it looked strangely familiar

Y: agreed. we seem to be agreeing a lot!

J: I have a complaint about many of the entries. And it kinda shows how some Singaporeans still see Singapore. There is a lack of questioning. Most of the entries are little exercises in taking Singapore at face value and just putting on a rosy set of lenses

Y: then again, this is cine65 is launched by nexus. its a government body and the contest is to help with national education

J: Pretty little works but nothing much to scrape off the film. True

Y: actually i think Homebound could be the only one that might hold a little tinge of doubt from the way it was shot i might over read into this

J: Oh tell me why?

Y: but i feel that in his motion of using photography to capture whatever "essence" he felt he was missing from Singapore

J: What did you see in it?

Y: is kind of a desperate move because, for photography, as well as in film you choose to film what you want to see and in the action of photography, you choose what you already thought you know about Singapore or in the case of the boy, who came back from the States after being away from Singapore for a long time, will know much less of what he thinks Singapore is

J: That's an interesting point.

Y: and if you realize he put up a collage of his neighbours and not iconic Singapore momentos and when he came back from the army, he was greeted by his neighbors and thats where he calls "home" not, the usual singapore locations or icons other entries used

J: It was surreal but it worked for me

Y: and what is unique about this is how the States is similar to Singapore in a way that both countries are multiracial an assimilation of cultures when he comes back to Singapore, this multiracial aspect is what is similar to Singapore so i guess, he still could not clearly identify what is home but then again, i might be reading into too much of such a short clip

J: I must say on my first impression of viewing the film, I did not take too much away from it. In fact, it seemed to be like the boy in Boo Junfeng's Keluar Baris who is rediscovering his country and immediate surroundings, except, being less emotional and cynical about it. BUt it is interesting that you have pointed that it is one of the few films that are tinged with a bit of self-questioning. One favourites appear again in the Best Sound Design nominations - The Year of Independence. What's your take?

Y: i think they should win because of the effort they took to write and compose an original song but not fair because they did a music vid let see the other nominees

J: I agree. This is quite a no-brainer category though I must give special mention to Why Do I keep Tickiing?

Y: agreed

J: I liked it because its simple use of the ticking of the clock synched in well with his race to finish his 'Singapore All-Star Buffet'

Y: i enjoyed the way they used the ticking to signal urgency and in-between the meals there were the use of clicking of plates and cups. faster, and more urgent

J: Yes, sound design should not just be about music. Moving on, how about Best Screenplay?

Y: i really liked Why Do I Keep Ticking because of the twist at the endthe rest have cliché endings, except for SINGA, which i really enjoyed as well, so for me its SINGA and Why Do I Keep Ticking

J: I have to agree that the rest of the nominees pale in comparison with SINGA and Why Do I Keep Ticking. Key is like a filial piety ad by MYCS. Project Home could have explored the senility of the Ah Ma more instead of using the 'project' framework which diluted the message. Jeremy says: I felt the story of giving back to Ah Ma already answers the competition brief

Y: hmm actually i think its a bit of woody allen to see the director direct for Project Home

J: Haha

Y: but lacks the speak tot he audience bit. then again, its very expected, and screenplay can be improved

J: I find it a bit difficult to draw the link between Woody Allen and that film though

Y: as i said before i think the girl was very natural in her role in the short clip

J: I have a love-hate relationship with Minimart. Can you guess why?

Y: the screenplay? and choice of actors..

J: Love and hate for the same reasons. love cos the revelation of the girl's blindness added a nice touch to the film. BUt at that same time, it was exploitative. Remember the ad about the blind girl aired during YOG? Rings the bell doesn't it?

Y: yeah. somehow, we have already identified 2 entries that have drawn inspiration from gov ads already...

J: What do you think of SINGA? I feel it's like a roughly cut stone with some potential

Y: that too. perhaps can give a little more backstory on why there is this SINGA test and what are the stakes then will make the story more compelling

J: Yeah, that was pretty random. haha. I found the humour rather kooky but the approach quite refreshing. The Filipion guy was of course a nice touch to the story

Y: which i think thats why he is also nominated for favorite actor, haha

J: That for me, makes Why Do I Keep Ticking stand out as the best screenplay. It is actually a story that work better on literature and the written word than the visual because it is driven by a whim, an almost unrealistic one. But packing the food into the luggage as a visual statement added quite a punch and of course, the nice circular end to the story with Ah Ma's chicken. :)

Y: yeah. the screenplay was well thought out, even with that last punch on remembering he has actually missed out home cooked food by his ah ma. favorite entry for screenplay for sure

J: I am rather hesitant about the Best Editing category because some of the best editing do not serve to help the winning stories That makes it hard to decide.

Y: yeah, I found it hard to make a choice as well. makes me wonder why some of the films were shortlisted in the said catergories

J: Yes, A calculated guess for me would be The Year of Independence

Y: becus of the small magical man ? i wonder what are the criterias for the categories

J: The novelty, but I would give my personal vote to Homebound.Because the editing does more than piecing together a montage. like in 'I am Singapore', it is not linear like 'Helping Hands'. The time transition touch from colour to black and white was quite nifty though. The criteria for best editing?. What do u think?

Y: from what u have mentioned it should be original, and different and at least an effort to make the film stand out ?

J: In a way, yes, but it should work in parallel with the story/screenplay to bring the message across strongly. How about you? what are yr thoughts on editing?

Y: i liked the editing of I am Singapore

J: Really?

Y: looking at this competition to be a competition about national education
J: I am surprised it did not nominated for cinematography
Y: works for me. brings back to the qn on how the films are nominated..
J: mmm... Don't you feel it is too STB?
Y: yes. it is also very similar to this series of tourism clips that recently went viral on fb, from STA travel australia
J: Ha!
Y: instead of move, learn, eat, this film uses the 5 senses
J: But what works in 'I am Singapore' for you?
Y: transitions are smooth while jumping from 1 of the senses to another
J: Maybe that's where I need to pay more attention to craft. Nominees in this category aside, were there actually other entries not nominated that caugt your eye for editing?
Y: just for this category? that'll b why do i keep ticking
Why do I keep ticking?


J: yes
Y: and 2365
J: Why 2365?
Y: smooth editing
J: A la I am Singapore?
Y: makes the linear storytelling very compelling
J: That's true, esp when linear stiorytelling can be a let down
Y: lots of cuts closeups and pans with the closeups to the writing of the letter to the long shots to the girl writing the letter. i liked it
J: Okay, I just found it too run-off-the-mill
Y: especially when this film was to emphasis on how singapore has changed from 4 digit code to 6. probably so as well. so for u, which film would you pick?
J: I also have to disagree with you on Why I keep ticking. It is one of my favourite films that largely rests on its unique and decisive storytelling. the editing however, is more a slave to the story, nothing very extraordinary there. what's yr take before I share what I observed

Y: hmm, as we discussed before some are really good. those who are impeccable pale in comparison to some others.

J: Any thing, style stand out in particular?

Y: hmm

J: Any interesting observations made about how the students directed the videos across the board? not just the nominees?

Y:  they like long takes, and then using fast cuts to show anticipation. always from 1 persons' POV.

J: Yes, I noticed that

Y: and to be honest i think for such a short time for cine65 the directing may not be fluid.  they either cover it up with the sound

J: Cover-ups... the cynic in me noticed a range of tools used to fill and cover up storytelling gaps. I felt all the entries were clearly told and the images presented in a polished way.  But the way the direction seemed to lack punch. The storytelling gets too linear sometimes and many of the videos sound like video blogs. In which the narrator, supposedly the lead character goes through a tell-it-all exercise from the point the day begins to the point the day ends. Having said, several entries have come up with rather meaningful ways of representing the sense of home

Y: yeah those entries who did not exactly have an overarching storyline works best for me.  like the postal code, living abroad, minimart 

J: as in those that were more free-form?

Y: yes

J: Any examples?

Y: hmm, postal code as in 2365?

J: yes

Y: why do u say these few films you have selected to have came up with ways that are meaningful?

J: Well, I applaud them for not drawing out the obvious elements like food, HDB flat, Mother's cooking etc

Y: which film is for living abroad again?what is the title?

J: Homebound and Long Ride Home

Y: is it because they focus more on people relations rather than aspects of Singapore life?  thats why they mean something to u? i guess that also represents how u see Singapore as well? because you can relate to those films

J: You brought out a gd point. Perhaps that opinion of mine is a personal opinion, not a qualified general opinion that Singapore to means represents the personal friendships and relationships and ties. Singapore to me means XXXXXXXX

Y: yeah i get what you mean. I think this competition actually suss out what people see of Singapore 

J: Yes, back to my former qn, which entries were u referring to that were did not have an overarching storyline?

Y: oh, like Singapore Prata, conducted like an interview style

J: Ah! 

Y: or the film that's translated into an MV, i think those entries are pretty refreshing. it's a totally different take

J: I buy what you say about Singapore Prata being able to change the overriding beat if the entries, it's refreshing

Y: so what you think should deserve to win that category of best directing?

J:I feel if I said Singapore Prata, it would just end the conversation haha. It is a clear winner in its own right, directed with lots of heart and generous dashes of humour. I need to give credit to the nuanced touch in Long Ride Home, the thoughtful shot compositions in 2365, the pure acting gold in Key and the well-deliberated storytelling in Homebound,

Y: these students did do their best in directing and creating these films. their style of directing showed us what mattered to them about Singapore and what the brief meant to them. As for Long Ride Home, I noticed that homebound is made by a photographer. The film has very good shots, but directing wise, it is not tight enough.
Homebound


J: True, but I liked how it had a circularity to it

Y: the way the actors were placed, the camera angles were all very good for shots, to me, the choices where the angles were placed and how the camera moved did not work tightly enough with the plot. i think it's more of a photography project than a directorial one

J: However, I disagree that the direction only reflected his photography training. I feel there was still a strong, overall narrative direction to the video. everything drove towards the 'surprise' ending. Which part did the shots not meld well with the narrartive?

Y: for me, it was the scene where the 2 boys were sitting in at the CBD area in front of the river.  shot from the boys back/cut/shot from in front of the boys talking. It was a bit unrealistic, and staged. For these shots did not work for me. I understand the significance for the "moment" of the story to be held at the CBD area where they were talking about life and career, but it felt awkward to me.

J: Yeah, a little too deliberate

Y: and the filter of the shot also made it seem very "photography". if i paused that scene. it will look good. and if i paused the scene where the shot was of the boys' backs, these 2 shots will be part of a photographer exhibition of the same theme. perhaps if directing wise, you can do the faceshot/cut/shot back and forth at another location will work better.

J: My peeve is more the acting and the casting. The way the taxi's son interacted with his father at the end seemed he was self-consciously delivering a punchline. But I still its nomination is justified, even for best film. What's yr take on the nonimees for Best Film?

Y: What are the factors for best films i wonder. what should be considered? all of the other sub cats?

J: Well, I feel in the best film, the sum of the ingredients do not make the cake. It is beyond 1+1=2. What's yr view?

J: if thats the case is very subjective right?  if criteria not set in stone.  but question again is how to justify good films. i think best film should have a unique interpretation of the brief, good storyline, and directorial style

J:  Agree. I feel it can be an entry that may not have appeared in the other nominations.For me, it's a gut feel thing. If you walk away remembering a film, its done its job
yizhen says:  if a film have to leave an impression on you, to walk away and remember the film, i argue that it has to have a strong content, storyline and together with tight directing, then it will leave impressions on people.Which of the films then do it for you?

Y: to me the obvious is Singapore Prata. it is original relatable acting and the directing and editing are seamlessly. Topnotch.
Singapore Prata


J: For me, it is a tough choice between that and The Year of Independence.Both spirited in their styles

Y: besides being spirited.why the year of independence worked for u and why they should win overall film?

J: Putting an endearing guitar strumming guy amidst miniature cutouts of Singapore landscapes.
It sings for me

Y: directing skills? what do u think of that film

J: Brownie points for conceptualising, not necessarily directing.
Y: ahhhh, ok

J: I only remembered a lot of grinning in that clip lol

Y: for me it was a lot of exaggerated actions, but i was laughing along

J:If you were to walkaway remembering only one film, which on would it be among the nominees?

Y: actually, it will be SINGA

S.I.N.G.A


J: Interesting

Y: because of the storyline, not necessary of the choice of actors, directing skills or cinematography. that was the only film that poked fun at our fear of the ISA, overtly used it in their "SINGA" test as the source of fear and then turned back and questioned. what we should be as Singaporeans. we don't need a test to determine whether we are Singaporeans. we should know we are.  those Singapore icons, locations, food, relationships, need not necessary make us singpaorean. we should know

J: A film that has BALLS, that what you like :)

Y: wahahhahaha

J: Yes!

Y: i guess, it also reflects what i have been feeling recently about singapore, with the influx of foreign talent. with the various actors used in the film, and the ridiculous answers that were given, it shows of the "multiracial" aspect singapore gov is aiming at. it is also reminded me of the test all immigrants in US have to take to pass before getting their official green card

J:I'd like to take the 'ballsy' stance too but the romantic in me is also just as loud

Y: do we necessarily have to have that test implemented in singapore, to determine whether one needs to have a PR status as well? i mean, yeah sure. but these systems all have flaws. i like a film that questions the systems. not just a romantic or nostalgic or a demoralized view about Singapore, which almost all films have captured

J: True true. As a final note, I can also see that Singapore Prata is quite ballsy too. In not trying to lyrical and art-housey

Y: yeah.

Our Predictions for the Winners
Overall Best Film
Jeremy: Year of Independence
Yizhen: Singapore Prata


Best Direction
Jeremy: Long Ride Home
Yizhen: 2365

Best Editing
Jeremy: Year of Independence
Yizhen: I am Singapore

Best Screenplay
Jeremy: Minimart
Yizhen: S.I.N.G.A.

Best Sound Design
Jeremy: Year of Independence
Yizhen: Why Do I keep Ticking?

Best Cinematography
Jeremy: Year of Independence
Yizhen: 2365

Best Art Direction
Jeremy: Year of Independence
Yizhen: Year of Independence

Favourite Actor
Jeremy: Butter Chong, Year of Independence
Yizhen: Ahmed Ali Khan, Singapore Prata

Favourite Actress
Jeremy: Ah Ma, Project Home
Yizhen: Mother, Why Do I Keep Ticking

Share:

0 cent worth