Storyboard 08 Shorts (Sinema) - Short Film Getai

Storyboard 08 made me feel a little old. Looking around at the way the `teens' dress, the suppleness of their youthful skin, the wispiness of their Japanese-inspired cuts and the way they turn out in a group, I felt envious. A little out of place. I even made sure I swung my chair (like an Ah Beng) into place instead of dragging it the usual sluggish way.

Beyond initial impressions, Storyboard 08 had a very refreshing feel to it, thanks to the way the emcee pranced left and right interviewing people (see picture)like Ryan Seacrest in the American Idol.
Emcee seen hopping around the audience to solicit comments and get director's accounts, very cool.

There was a basket of Belgian waffles and Chocolates that you could purchase and help contribute to the filmmakers who have made these films. From the prices (below), the money could help them buy a bottle of beer to conceptualise the next film, so not a bad way to contribute to filmmakers.
The selection of films was also reflective of youthful sensibilities. A total of 6 films were shown, 1 sch drama, 1 emo type film, 2 gangster flicks, 1 Fish Charr vehicle (sorry keep noticing him) and 1 long Wong-Kar-Wai visual tribute. (No review on this because I left halfway, needing to attend to something else).

My Sweet Secret by Lim Wei Shan
Okay, here is an ugly truth. I was late for the screening. But thankfully, I think the screening must have been late too because I still managed to grasp more or less the plot in the 1st short. It was one of those pure-looking, earnestly told school dramas sans subversions of any kind. Teacher’s day is coming. Cute, scrawny boy thinks hard for what to give as a present during teacher’s day. Teacher is a sweet looking, charismatic Melody Chen look-alike. She was appropriately casted I felt because she looked pleasing to the eyes and had a nurturing aura to her. The boy reminded me of this boy I saw in Tan Siang Yu’s short film titled `Short’ about this short boy who wished he was taller. So physically, it gave me the impression he had the `short’ complex in him. For me, it added to the sweetness of the film, with the teacher towering over him yet being the object of his affections.

I could not help noticing how the shots and storytelling looked more fluid than most of the shorts I saw at Kino Fest (Ngee Ann FMS Grad show) last week. I am inclined to believe it is the liberating effect of shooting on DV. It frees you to compose, extend, make sudden decisions. The simplicity of the style was something you wished `I Am Not Stupid 2 would have. It was accessible and if this event was in Toa Payoh town centre, it would have drawn a huge family crowd and to very good response. Not that tattooed musicians in skinny pants often seen in youth park cannot appreciate, I mean, it was well-received too!

Hey!!! I should really propose to film event organizers to consider alternative screening venues for short films instead of the usual. Hire emcees. Create a Short-film Getai! It would be so fun! I don’t mind being an emcee, it’s like SAF MDC days all over again.

1920s by Elgin Ho
(more comments on

I am very impressed with Elgin’s work here. The last I saw Elgin (was his talent for his class project under Lilian Wang – his professor), he had a fine stroke of a goatee and an easy going demeanour. Guess maybe his buddyish course mate Teck Siang was around during the shoot. But I could also tell he had a deeper emotional core to him for he had his moments of deliberation. 1920s speaks of this side of Elgin. It was a well-written piece featuring a running voiceover that spoke of a rather bittersweet view of life, sometimes bordering on disillusionment. It was bittersweet because the words spoke of weathered state of mind yet the images were of nature and innocence. They evoked a sense of calmness, almost in a Buddhist kind of way.

And then the little surprise for the audience was unravelled at the end when we see how the younger sister of the young man fumbled with the birthday cake knife. She is blind apparently. Maybe it’s the casual kind of viewing setting that has lowered my defenses, I found myself lost in the beauty of the well-shot images. However, I felt the film would have been more memorable if I had a history/exposition of the character and why he felt the way he did.

Connection by Ray Pang

This is the first of the gangster flicks or flicks with traces of gangster-like behaviour (unless Elgin Ho was an ex-gangster and his monologue spoke somewhat of it). Gangster beats another gangster up. The victim surrenders. Years later, he marries a girl who has a habit of smiling at her own funny thoughts (sorry just exaggerating!). They experience a joyful wedding filled with a bevy of joyful, funky haired `beng’ bestmen, all probably with tattoos under the clean white shirts that defined their masculinities. Then, during the wedding, `Beng’ groom listens to his wife’s tummy to suggest it was a wedding of 3 and not 2. And not long after, her waistline changes. Though that laughing to herself remains.

Here comes the best part of the short. The fighting. I really felt I was part of the action. I mean after watching Ah Long Pte Ltd and raising my expectations of fight scenes in Singapore films, this was really good, esp for a short film done in school. The editing was faithful to the vigour of the action. And the blood-drip…I mean, Shaw brothers with their countless Kung Fu flicks had worse blood-drips on screen than this. With the only punctuation being the `self-amused’ world of his pregnant wife. When the credits came, I had no doubts, the filmmaker has a few really cool grungy friends. It was an earnest film made with a lot of heart and personal experience.

When We Were Bengs by Alaric Tay

I heard quite a fair amount about this short film. Now I know why. It would be the flag-bearer for the `stop-depressing-local-films-movement’. It was zesty, surprising, funny, entertaining and consistent throughout. One more, Alaric has transported the best of his forte as an actor and his association with actor buddies into this. I think this film also helps me know Alaric a bit better (first introduced by Cherlyn Tan at Singapore Short Cuts). His style is very strong here. A cartoonish kind of slapstick comedy about 2 blokes who try to be Bengs (no way compared to Ray Pang’s stone-throwing Bengs). Alaric is one of them and another more nerdy looking one is the other. Alaric digs a hot chick who appears in the arcade but gets into trouble. A well-costumed bunch of gangsters run after him and his buddy. They end up near a port (great for kidnapping scenes). And face a final showdown. Not much of a showdown though cos it’s 5 against 2. But it’s deliberately lame twist at the end that puts a rather satisfying end to this 12 min farce.

I have a thing for good acting (who dosen’t). That’s why this film works well with me. Unfortunately, Alaric was not as funny though the `Noose’ because Michelle Chong stole all the thunder. Even from the weather girl, Windy Miao (Gurmit Singh). So I sometimes think actors are quite vulnerable. If the market is not playing your genre, you may not get a chance to shine. The other perky thing was the sharp and sleek editing, that could give whoever edited `Cut’ by Royston Tan a run for his money. Maybe they are the same pple??? My words will not do enough justice to the editing `stunts’ but if I have the money, I will look for his editor for my next short film.

Old Times by Chew Tee Pao
The film got better as the story evolved. While starting out a little scratchy, I got used to the disorientating back and forth intercutting between the present and past. Like one moment you see Fish Charr and the next moment, you see Vincent Tee (picture below).
It was a treat for the eyes to witness the transformation of Fish through time as the flashbacks shifted from one time zone to another one. But I just felt could have been tighter. Maybe cos it was too stretched, like their reminiscence started all the way when they were kids. But this is really just my preference. I would have preferred more focus on the more painful scenes. For me, it was the scene with Fish and his girl in bed right after sex. He was smoking and probably starting to get distracted while she was still testing him out for love and attention.
I liked how it all ended because the last reaction from his wife said it all and answered all questions that were raised.
This is a rather old film by now already. So my comments come a little late. Tee Pao must have braved the critic's claws or had his back pat many times to a job well done.

This picture above is a tribute to Tracy Soon whom I saw the true colours of in the short film. She acted for me in `Girl in Red Sarong' before as the `lao ban niang' (lady boss) of this boutique. I subsequently dubbed a very `auntie' voice over her lines and my memory of her was cemented in that way. Today, I saw her in her full acting glory.
Some films get the right connections (pun intended), Old Times is watchable online here.
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