New Year, New Features: Jason Lai on "Ms J Contemplates Her Choice"

The year 2012 will come to pass after today and looking back it has been an exciting year with scandals and gossip. The news we have been reading in 2012 have not really been news but rather, various ways of story telling on how and why these people do the things that they do. Be it committing adultery, paying an underage prostitute to service them or siphoning money to fund a fading rockstar dream. These people had the free will to choose not to do the things they had done but they did and they had no choice but to suffer the circumstances after their crimes have been under the spotlight of our media.

How we move into life is about the choices we make today isn't it? Going into filmmaking is a choice.  To choose film as a medium to tell a story is also a choice. We find out in one of the 8 recipients of the New Talent Feature Grant, Jason Lai shared with us a little about the film he will be working on and how it is also about the various choices one makes in life, and about free will. Read on...

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

Our film is an anthology film consisting of three stories with interconnected characters. The ending reveals the secret that ties them together. A listener calls into a radio show asking the radio DJ to choose between saving either a corrupt politician or an overcharging doctor. As the listener force Ms J to make a series of startling choices live on-air, a pair of young lovers, plus children on a summer camp complete this battle of wits about what it means to make choices. Thematically, the film is about social tensions and free will.

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? Funding for local films in still an issue. The new scheme does not require filmmakers to find matching funds, this helps a lot. But it does not remove the funding issue. The fund is important and precious to us. It alleviates some of our budget constraints, but we’re still going to have to be very resourceful.

Budget issues aside, we always want to push the envelope on storytelling. This particular film however benefits more from an even hand, than something stylistically or technically too forward. However, we do hope to impress the audience with a refreshing casting choice.

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? 

Actually I am not aware of the thematic requirement of this fund. Is there one? In any case, I didn’t feel restricted in any ways when crafting this particular story.

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

The idea for this film is a result of talking to many talented people whom I worked with for my TV work. Two people in particular - Raihan (who also got the funding) and Yvonne, the writer.

5. What are your wish for the Singapore local film industry? 

One day, when people can make a living from working on the film industry. Right now, most people who work on film projects are working on little money. Done out of passion and favors.


This writer cannot help but be kaypoh and ask another question, just a follow up to Q1.

Bonus Question: What was your inspiration behind creating Ms J Contemplates Her Choice? It seems to resound a little of top scandals that had happened this year so far. 

Actually the plot points for this script was in development for more than 2 years, Hence we were't taking reference from recent news events. But as it turns out, life often imitates art, and vice versa.


So here, we have Jason with his hand written wish for Singapore local film industry for 2013!! Thank you for reading.

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