Flowering on New Grounds - Benjamin Tan's Short

I helped out on one day of this 9-day shoot. Shucks! What a scorching afternoon it was! Avoiding another painful skin-peeling aftermath, I did the driving around to get props. Props.... I am not sure where to begin. My heart skipped a beat when Junbin the producer told me about the making of a hundred cardboard flowers in the shoot the previous week. The picture above is evidence of the labour of love of many pairs of hands, mostly female I presume cos Benjamin looks pretty charismatic with the gals at Sinema Old School.
Mike the mixed-blooded DOP
Benjamin's factory girls

The experimental short combines elements of Pontianak and

Battling against noise - a cricket game was going on in the background
It's surreal, so no need to mug in this study room.
If the wind blows, that's it.
Da Feng Chui (Big Wind Blowing in Mandarin)

Dunno who took this back shot of me!!!

Here is a chat with Benjamin on his labour of love.
Jeremy (S): Wow, 8 days of shoot, what inpsired you to do this film?
Benjamin (B): Haha. It's 8 days so far, one more coming up actually. And then little little pick ups for the montage we have at the climax of the film. But yeah, what inspired me was the fact that the script was so open to interpretation. It had a lot of room for experimentation and that was what attracted me to do this. The chance to do something surreal, which is an area that is seldom explored in the cinematic form these days, especially in Singapore.
J: What's the storee actually?
B: It's a tale of reconciliation between mother and daughter. It's a story about growing up and growing calloused to the world in that process. Ultimately she finds redemption through her daughter. But the story is told through the little girl's eyes and we retreat into her dreamworld with her every now and then.
J: You strike me as a blokey guy, yet this story seems a little feminine.
B: Haha. I guess I wanted to do this because I could relate to it. Its not so much about a mother and daughter then a parent-child relationship. It could have very well been a father and son story. But yeah, the story is about growing up and maturing and losing our innocent perception of the world along the way. I could relate to that. Growing up and becoming very desensitized to a lot of things around us. And I think its a very pertinent story for a society that's as fast paced as Singapore where we rush through our childhood. Kids hardly have one anymore these days. And in a way its a social commentary as well.
J: What inspired you to write this story?
B: I didn't write it actually. I read the script online as part of this 48 hour scriptwriting competition. This piece got shortlisted and I found out the girls who wrote it were theatre studies people from my batch back in VJC. So I got their contacts through a friend and asked if I could do this because, like I said, I could relate to the story, at the same time it gave me a lot of room to experiment and try different things, which I love. I mean a simple line like 'and she floats away on her red balloons' - there are a million and one ways to do this and I wanted to play around with this.
J: And you chose the severest form to treat it, why go through so much trouble?
B: Well for one, I tried to stay true to the script. Which was written like a stage play to begin with. So I treated the film as a stage play. I tried to interpret it as would a stage director, and then make it for the medium of film. That was how I arrived at the decision I guess. But all that trouble - I suppose its just me that if I want to make a film I'd want it to be perfect. So I'd go through anything, take as long as it takes to get it done perfect. In my eyes at least. Haha. And also to do the film justice, because I had to actually shut it down after 2 days of shoot back in January due to schedules and all. So this is really a rework and I wanted to do that shutting down some justice. That coming back to it now, it was worth the shut down, and the long wait, because we're doing it bigger, and we're working a lot harder now.
J: Where do you get so much drive to shoot 8 days!
B: Haha... I guess the desire to see the end result of one giant crazy experiment propels me to do this. I've never tried doing what I'm doing before, and certainly not a lot of people have and I'm very excited about wanting to see the completed film, to see how what was just up in my head look on screen, materialized. That kinda pushes me to head butt through consecutive sleepless nights and crazy set ups under the scorching sun week after week for about a month now. > Did you always you you wanted to be a filmmaker?Not until 3 years ago, no. I had always loved films, and loved the craft of making one. I just never thought I'd do it myself. I took the advices of elders and thought it wasn't practical. Then when i graduated from jc I just decided to make one for the heck of it since I had time on my hands. I did something and surprisingly, it was invited to screen at a very small upstart festival in Mumbai. I wouldn't even call it an achievement, its by no means comparable to anyone who's in the industry right now, but it did serve as a little pat on the back and it made me want to do my next one. So that's how I ended up doing what I'm doing now. I certainly did not plan for it, nor do I think I'm cut out for it still, I just do it cause I enjoy it. Won't be my bread and butter, definitely. Haha.
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