Production Talk - "Jan" by Amos Yee

13-year old Amos Yee won The New Paper First Film Fest competition. He beat numerous entries by older 'kor kors' and 'jeh jehs' (colloquial term for older brothers and sisters). We caught up with him to know more about his 'award-winning piece' - Jan.

Speaking about your film, what’s Jan in a nutshell?
Jan is a little story based loosely on cancer as an aspect to make all the funny jokes and comedy.
What’s the big idea behind Jan?
Jan is jumbled pack of jokes, comedy, and a rambunctious climatic ending. It is a film that expresses creativity and pushes the limit to how much jokes you can merge into a single video. Jan was created as a way to let all my imagination come out and a journal for all the jokes that I have inside my mind.

How did the film come together from pre-production to post production? Did you have any help from your parents?
The film was filmed with a $90 camera, a cheap tripod and edited with a free video editing software called Pinnacle Videospin. The props were all the stuff in my house that I had. So basically I had a $0 dollar budget. I typed the script Jan on microsoft word with a few jokes already planned out in my head like the ukulele scene. As I was typing it, I soon added more jokes like the the scene where I said "JAM!!" and the ending when I sang with dramatic acuity. Once I wrote the whole script, I looked at it and added a bit more clever dialogue and a few more jokes before it was finally completed. Because I had school, there were a few days of my week that I was not free. So, I did all the filming and editing and script-writing at 1 hour-intervals at the days when I am free. I started at saturday and ended at next Friday taking about 6 hours to complete the whole film. I took 1 hour to write the script, 2 hours to film and 3 hours to edit. Because there was a 3 minute time limit, I was able to cut off all the unnecessary parts that wasn't needed and make the video even more exciting. At around 11pm on Friday, I posted my video on Youtube. No help from parents at all.
What were the challenges you’ve met along the way? How did you overcome them?
The true beauty of the video "Jan" was that there were not challenges that I faced, it was just a 12-year old boy making a fun film for fun. Honest and humorous.

Is this your first time making a film? If so/not, how has this experience impacted you?
This wasn't the first time making my film, in fact I have made dozens of vlogs and skits on my Youtube account before that. I self-learnt all the filming and editing by myself by mingling with all the icons in the editing software and the buttons of the camera. Unfortunately, all the videos can't be seen because I went a bit too far by posting an offenive video about racism in Singapore. My school's disciplinary master then ordered me to delete all my videos from Youtube and prohibited me to make any more videos in the future. So I deleted all my videos but as soon as I heard about the competition, I had to attend it. So I sneakily made the video Jan which was not right. And the rest is history.

Will you continue filmmaking? Or perhaps you have something else in mind?
Well I recently made a video called Yvette which was a sequel to Jan. I feel that it wasn't as exciting and was a bit boring as there was no time limit to follow, and the jokes weren't that compelling. The video was just to satisfy the reports that there was going to be a sequel to Jan called "Yvette". However, I have dozens of video ideas, too much to comprehend actually that I haven't pen down yet. I am going to start making more videos at June when my exams are over, and hopefully make a profit from the videos that I posted in Youtube. I look forward to it.

Any plans to make a new film after Jan?
Like I said, I made a video called "Yvette" already and it's currently on Youtube. You should watch it and comment on what you think.
 Jan not only bagged the Top prize and as well as Best Actor over at the TNP First Film Fest.

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