Winning Notes from Yahssir, PDA champ

CANHOPE, winner of Project PDA or Project Pitching and Development with Ashok

The core intention of my short film was to capture the essence of an average young man’s life journey of mediocrity, confusion and fear and how just a small change in perspective that occurs in my protagonist in the story as he interacts with a frail elderly Singaporean aunty who collects empty cans to sell to supplement her income, brings him HOPE. It is hope, which binds these two souls together. Hope which the aunty gives the lead character after which he receives the courage to battle the future.

It is hope which give meaning to our lives. At every single point in our lives, human beings are constantly hoping for something to happen which can bring about changes to their current life circumstances. However, many a times hope just remains as hope if we do not take an active role in making it real…in realizing the dreams which our hearts feel so strongly about.

You are on a winning streak, first the Panasonic Digital Film Fiesta, now this? What’s your secret?

I do not think that there is any secret to me winning the competitions. I just gave it my best shot for both the competitions. Furthermore, during the digital film competition, I had Victric Thng as my mentor and from him I learnt something that I still remember today which was to do everything from my heart and for me to feel for it personally. I think that is something which has helped me for both my shortfilms. Furthermore, I definitely have to thank the teams that worked with me for the shortfilms. Without their support, it would have been difficult for me to have done this on my own.

Yahssir, beaming at his win earlier this year at the Panasonic Digital Film Fiesta

How has your journey in making films changed since you won the Digital Film Fiesta earlier this year?

Winning the digital film fiesta has definitely given me more confidence and recognition in the industry. Furthermore, people are definitely expecting more from me as a filmmaker and I hope to deliver. I will.

Can you share your idea for this film for PDA? What was your inspiration?

Actually, after my shortfilm “Checkmate” which was also about hope, I was still thinking about continuing on with the theme of hope as this is something which we see people all around us struggling with in their daily lives. Hence, I can say that “Can Hope” was somewhat a sequel to my previous shortfilm.

How much time were you given to film this and how did you pull everything together?

Basically, we were given one day to film and one day to edit. A lot of people came in at the appropriate times to render their helping hand and their relevant expertise. As mentioned earlier, I would not have been able to do this on my own. I managed to pull it together with their support and encouragement.

Who were you up against? Did you think you stood a chance?

I had really tough competitors in Karen and Ellery. They both know their craft well and they were also able to market themselves really well, which was not my forte. I had the confidence that I would finish in the top 5, but in reality, I did not expect to win.

What were the biggest challenges you faced in making this film?

I would have to say that it was definitely the time constraint. It was a race against time to wrap up everything whilst at the same time deliver a quality shortfilm. My team also faced several challenges such as the rain during the shooting of the main film and also some technical glitches.

Any interesting or funny moments during the shoot?

I think the thing that stands out in my mind would be what my lead actor did during the last shoot. We only had 2 identical cans to shoot the last scene and I was telling him repeatedly not to crush the cans. However, it just did not seem to register with him and he crushed the can. The whole team was running around trying to find the same type of can to continue filming. Recollecting those moments during the shoot still sends the team into laughter.

Have you met Ashok Armitraj (pictured above) in person? How was the experience?

Yes, I met him during the competition. Meeting a legendary producer from Hollywood was definitely an enriching and wonderful opportunity for me. He is someone who is really down-to-earth and willing to share his knowledge with upcoming filmmakers like me. I can’t wait to meet him again and learn more.

If given a big opportunity versus a smaller opportunity in Hollywood, what would you pick and why?

I’ve always had this thought running through my mind. In order to make a feature film box-office hit in nature, I need to do many shortfilms of good quality to gain the necessary experience and expertise. I would consider any opportunity in Hollywood to be a good opportunity. With that being said, I would prefer to start with a small opportunity to gain more experience and to prepare myself to deliver well when the big opportunity comes along. I am sure that if I do well for the small opportunity, bigger opportunities would definitely come knocking.

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