All you need is a good story

25Nov07

Technology has made it possible and easy for us all to produce work that looks professional, I think we increasingly tend to forget that what really distinguishes something as meaningful and good is its concept. We all get caught up in creating projects of spectacle, that pander to a notions of professionalism, by using techniques and effects that recreate such a image, but looking a little deeper what you find instead is unmotivated actions that are just plain empty.

24a.jpg That was one major point I felt was missing in a lot of the films I saw tonight at NTU’s Arts, Design and Media (ADM) showcase tonight. Aesthetically speaking, most of these films were a pleasure to look at. Moreover, the filmmakers had professional equipment such as dollies and cranes to work with, but more often than not, they were not used to advance the film. The very important question of why was put aside.

Perhaps what was really sorely-lacking was the ability of story-telling. That is a problem I find myself having to come to grips with as well. Telling a story is often the best way to get a message across; it is one thing to have information, but presenting it in a form that is palatable is increasingly becoming an important tool in a world of information overload. I suppose one way that film-makers turn to is to create an aesthetically pleasing film, but how long and deep can the engagement with the viewer last? Moreover, it has become so easy now that this will become the domain of amateurism instead and one will need to find other ways to stay above the pack.

In a similar fashion, the government’s recent initiative to engage the public using new media formats such as the MDA rap video and the KPE Underground launch are really interesting because it shows their willingness to reach out to us using these new mediums. Perhaps, Marshall McLuhan was correct to say that the medium is the message and by using these platforms, the government believes its message will get to us. Indeed, these initiatives have generated that buzz and a spectacle such that people will take notice. However, I think at the end of the day, what is at the core of the message really matters. The question is how do people perceive it and is the effect as intended?

Thus, at the end of the day, its the story that really matters. A good one performs in all formats, but a bad one needs a good format to help it stand out.

Inter-school collaborations and showcasing work
On a separate note, I think ADM’s efforts to showcase its students’ works is really commendable. I wish my school, School of Communication and Information (SCI), would provide such support too. In this way, more critical education can follow because our works will be scrutinised by the general public and at least each other. Just as importantly, I think our parents and loved ones can see for themselves why we spend hours toiling in school perfecting out work.

Another interesting idea came out of seeing the showcase, that is inter-school collaboration between ADM and SCI. Perhaps, the schools can combine resources like equipment and staff to provide a more holistic environment for film production. After all, both are under NTU’s College of Arts, so there exists a basis of sorts for closer links. Maybe an bi-annual feature film production can happen, where students from both schools send in joint-proposals and funding will come from the school. Who knows, maybe in the near future, both will break away to form a film school?

Alas, we know there is a lot of red tape and politics involve. The easier route would just be for students from both sides to get to know each other and work on each other’s strengths to do films that you love.

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