Book Review: Behind the Camera (2013)


Yuni Hadi is most known in the circuit as the biggest promoter of Singapore independent films. She may not remember me but I had briefly met her before during a talk organised by BooksActually a couple of years. During the talk, she had shared with the audience of her time working in the Singapore film industry. I had sat fascinated as she related how things were different back then when films, were really, film. For example, films have to be transported and circulated in VHS. Despite the inconvenience, Yuni still pushed to mail Singapore films in VHS to international audiences, preserving in promoting Singapore film to a wider range of audience. 

Besides promoting Singapore films, organising film festivals and curating films, she has just published a new book, Behind the Camera, Personal Recollections of Contemporary Singapore Cinema under Objectifs, of which she is also a co-founder. The book is a collection of personal essays from 20 local filmmakers, directors, actors and curators, including the likes of Glen Goei to Lesley Ho. 

I had finished the book in a single seating. It is a light and fun book to read, while allowing readers to a peep into the insights of selected filmmakers, actors and curators in Singapore. You get behind the scene still contributed by the interviewees as well, such as this picture below, from Eric Khoo behind the scenes of My Magic. 
Yuni had done little to alter the style on how the interviewees had written for the book, which is a fascinating insight into what kind of person these people are. 

Beside being an enjoyable read, I feel that this is an good book for past, present and future filmmakers, curators, actors and who ever who will be/are/were working in the film industry in Singapore. 

It is a book of memories, past experiences and recollections of how it had been for all these people who had worked so hard to be where they are now. It is also a book of nostalgia for the old timers who had been in the foray during the time when film was actually film. There are people like Yuni and Daniel Yun who still recall fondly of the days. 

This book is important for present, struggling filmmakers. This book is for you, whenever obstacles seem too tough to endure. Look to this book. Look to these list of people who had never gave up in doing what they are doing. They had known nothing else except to just follow through and do it. Persevere, friend, whoever you are out there. Look to this book and know that you are not alone. 

And for future filmmakers, do not be disheartened that you know absolutely nothing about film. Flip through this book and you will realise that a handful of these 20 people on the list had too, no formal education in making films to make films. All they had, and inclusive of you, is a nagging desire to want to tell stories and tell stories through the medium of film. 

What I do hope is that there are more editions of the book to include these profiles of more new, burgeoning local filmmakers, and other important people who had been working in the film industry for a long time such as camera crew, technicians, and many more unsung heroes we should take note for their crucial contributions and hard work. 

- Yizhen
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