New Year, New Features: Ric Aw on 'Building Waves'


1. Congratulations on being selected for the New Talent Feature Grant (NTFG). Could you tell us a bit more about this film (tentatively titled Building Waves) that you will be developing? 

Thank you very much, SINdie. Appreciate it. I’m thankful for MDA/SFC for NTFG. It is indeed a great encouragement. Truth and all, getting this grant helps to realize a life long dream - that is to make a feature film based on what I'm truly interested in. Building Waves reflects the lives of damaged souls who find solace and salvation from the reservoir of Singapore. It connects 4 stories, each involving characters facing loss, death, hope and love, and ultimately swept away by unrelenting waves of change. 

2. As funding is slightly less of an issue now, are you hoping to push the boundaries—stylistically or technically—with what you want to achieve on this film, which you couldn't on others due to budget constraints? Anything bold the audience can expect? 

I wrote the script based on research, imagination and memories. I just hope to make this film as honestly as I can.

3. Even though all of you are Singaporeans—and thus draw a great deal of your inspiration locally—do you think the programme's thematic requirement that you create specifically Singaporean content potentially restricts your vision as filmmakers? 

I think that’s the most important element of the grant – that is to present Singapore through cinema. I see the need to recognize the culture and heritage that we have. This grant cares about our cultural capital. It creates more opportunities for me to present my vision as a Singapore filmmaker.

4. Name one single thing or incident that happened in your life that planted the seeds for the idea of this film. 

I've always been interested in reservoirs since my parents brought me to Pierce Reservoir when I was 7. It became a weekly Sunday morning trip to Pierce or MacRitchie Reservoir for jogging. I suppose that was how it started. The memories of this large body of water inspired me to write Building Waves. When I'm much older, I realized the importance of the reservoir, at least to me. The reservoir is life-giving and at the same time, life-taking. The reservoir is a heritage treasure as it serves its important purpose to Singapore - that is to supply us with liquid sustenance but that body of water has also taken away many lives in reference all the incidents that occurred at Bedok Reservoir. I am interested in the relationship between man and the surroundings. The reservoir spurs the wayward characters into motion - into action to change their lives. Central to the lives of these characters, the reservoir can be a source of hope, life, fear, pain and love.

5. Why the idea of a reservoir as a connecting site for Building Waves? Did you draw inspiration from the Bedok reservoir incidents? 

True incidents that occurred at reservoirs sadden me rather than inspire me. I hope my stories reveal certain truths about our present human condition and shows that reservoirs represent hope rather than death.

6. What are your wishes for the local film industry? 

I hope more films are made based on the need to tell simple and honest stories. I wish for a prosperous 2013 for the local film industry.

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