Working overseas on international films has been nothing short of inspiring. These shoots bring together a confluence of talents from all over the world – England, Croatia, Australia, the United States, Singapore, Malaysia and France – and everyone is treated with the same level of respect. Be it cast or crew, everyone has an exquisite attitude, knows what they are doing and has such discipline and stamina. You really get a sense of how passion for this industry is shared in ways that transcend geographical and cultural borders. To be a part of this is incredibly invigorating and also propels me further in doing my best.
The bigger budgets enjoyed by these overseas productions certainly impact the level of detail and production expertise on set. There is support in all the right ways, which helps me focus on doing what I was hired to do. Effective storytelling is prioritised, and attention is placed on making the narrative come alive in the best possible way.
“At the end of the day, good art is a universal language and it transcends borders”
Our local industry has some ways to go. Of course, we can do with more freedom and greater faith. Of course, we can learn. But this is the same everywhere you go. We have the talent in Singapore, and there is overseas talent that wants to collaborate with us. But our country can help make this happen faster and more effectively. We just need the right attitude.
I have hopped from one stepping stone to another throughout my 30-odd years working in Singapore without knowing where it would lead. But I made sure each stone I landed on had my full devotion and attention. Carrying too many ideals can cost you gems and insights along the way that can actually be of great help.
It is true that the entertainment industry – be it film, television or theatre – can be difficult to love. The demands are high, the work is challenging and the hours are long. You often don’t get the financial kickback, nor the desired recognition. But this also means that those who are in this industry really love being in it. Now that I’m increasingly taking on overseas projects, I’m being thrust into brand-new environments. I am viewed and tested by new pairs of eyes. It is a big challenge, but one that I signed up for and will see through.
Singaporeans are used to making big things from little places. I want to bring home a sense that this can be a thriving industry, and that pursuing the arts is a viable and respected career. This phase is yet another building block of my body of work as a Singaporean artist.
At the end of the day, good art is a universal language and it transcends borders. There is so much to do, and there are so many stories to tell. The onus is on me to find or create work that can showcase my talent on my own terms.
Illustration by Danae Diaz
This article was originally published in the April 2019 issue of SilverKris magazine