STOP10 Apr 2017: 'Paperboat' by Ong Kah Jing and Yong Yan Hee

Paperboat is one of 32 short film entries for the Point and Shoot 55-hour filmmaking challenge organised by nuSTUDIOS Film Productions. Although it was not in the top 10 films by the jury's vote, it proved a hit with an online audience and clinched the Audience Choice Award with a stunning 2.1k Likes on Facebook. 

Kah Jing and Yan Hee have done a admirable job with this film, despite being novice filmmakers and having a 55-hour time constraint. It manages to draw on a well of emotions through a simple, beautifully told narrative. The titular paperboat is not singular, but actually a fleet of paperboats set to float free on a pond. Each sheet of paper has words written on it, houses a story within.

'Do you know the struggle of a paperboat?' the narrator asks. Paper doesn't float on water, and yet, given the right conditions, it does. The paperboat is really an analogy, tapping on the insecurity many of us share: that of being inadequate, especially when it comes to creative work.

It is like a love letter to all creatives and those who feel like they're not good enough: I see you, keep going.

We interviewed the team who produced Paperboat, Ong Kah Jing and Yong Yan Hee, to get their thoughts on the competition process and on winning the Audience Choice Award.

You only had 55 hours to shoot and produce this film based on the theme ‘Bloom’. How did you prepare for the Point and Shoot competition, whether mentally or otherwise? 

It was the first time that both of us worked together. So two weeks before the competition, we tried to get to know each other more by watching films that we recommended each other as well as ate meals together just to know each other’s life story. Those interactions helped us to sync up our thoughts and we ended up developing a certain style that we knew we wanted to achieve even before the theme was released. 

What is the inspiration for Paperboat? Does it draw on a personal struggle of being a creative? 

Paperboat is actually inspired by Jeff’s rowing (dragon boat) experience. He views his life as similar to a boat race, in which he has to keep going or he will be left behind. He views himself as a novice in the filmmaking industry and thus identifies with a paperboat, one that is vulnerable to the waters that surround it and yet still is able to keep afloat. 

Was the time limit the greatest challenge throughout production or were there other obstacles you faced? 

We felt that our greatest obstacle was our inexperience. This was the first time that we helm the production of a narrative short film and so there was much uncertainty throughout the entire process. The time limit definitely added pressure to that as well. 

The iris shot is mesmerising. How did you achieve that and whose eye opens and closes the film? 

As the narrative was about the awakening of one’s will, we felt that the iris shot is a perfect representation of it. The dilation of the iris was quite aligned to the theme of bloom and we wanted to make for an unforgettable shot for it. To capture this shot, we placed a 100mm Macro lens incredibly close to Kah Jing’s eye. An strong LED panel was placed beside his eye to illuminate the details. We captured his iris dilating as the light was turned from on to off and reversed the footage to achieve that shot. 

How do you feel about winning the Audience Choice Award? 

Prior to winning, we felt defeated as we didn’t achieve what we desired to in the main competition. The Audience Choice Award allowed us to showcase our work to many people, and we were incredibly heartened by the response, both in terms of the support given during the voting period as well as the comments received. We would like to take this opportunity to thank the over 2,000 people who voted for us and SINdie for featuring us in this article.

Watch Paperboat here:

At the same time, you can watch all 32 films, which were vying for the Point and Shoot Audience Choice Award here.

Written by Jacqueline Lee

For the full list of April 2017's 10 films under STOP10, click here.
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