Tak­ing A Bow

As the 29th edi­tion of The Sin­ga­pore In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val rolls around, we meet the power play­ers of our film in­dus­try who are shap­ing, mould­ing and steer­ing the vis­ual lan­guage of cin­ema with their be­hindthe-scenes bravado

Singapore Women's Weekly (Singapore) - - CONTENTS - BY NA­TALYA MOLOK

Meet the women trans­form­ing the film in­dus­try here and abroad

The Fes­ti­val Flour­isher Nicole Ong, 40, Mar­ket­ing & Part­ner­ships Di­rec­tor, Sin­ga­pore In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val (SGIFF)

While film­mak­ers bring life, cul­ture and art to our daily lives, it is film fes­ti­vals that help spread th­ese sto­ries to au­di­ences around the world. En­ter Nicole, the newly minted Mar­ket­ing & Part­ner­ships Di­rec­tor for SGIFF, who over­sees the prop­a­ga­tion of high-qual­ity creative films to the masses.

“There are all th­ese film­mak­ers in the in­dus­try but they’re only as good as it gets right? You need to be able to ac­tu­ally spread the good word about th­ese film­mak­ers and their per­sonal sto­ries so that’s where I come in. I make sure that the fes­ti­val gets heard,” says Nicole, who moon­lights as a pho­tog­ra­pher on the side.

“It’s also my role to look at how we are able to change per­cep­tions about SGIFF. A lot of peo­ple tend to think that the films be­ing shown here are very in­ac­ces­si­ble, very indie, and a lit­tle bit niche, but one of our ob­jec­tives this year is to get peo­ple who are not very into film to just come and be open to what we’ll show at the fes­ti­val and come and see the di­ver­sity of the tal­ents that we have in the re­gion.”

In Nicole, the fes­ti­val has found a fresh pair of eyes to take the SGIFF in a new di­rec­tion. She comes from a dif­fer­ent in­dus­try al­to­gether – ad­ver­tis­ing – where she spent more than a decade in brand man­age­ment.

“Af­ter 13 years work­ing with clients, I needed a break just to re­set. So, I did some free­lanc­ing and con­cen­trated on pho­tog­ra­phy work for a while be­fore meet­ing with SGIFF. I was very hon­est about my­self be­ing very new to the film in­dus­try,” re­veals Nicole, who joined SGIFF last March.

“It re­ally was dif­fer­ent from what

I was used to. In ad­ver­tis­ing I was used to big bud­gets so com­ing from that into this non-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion where peo­ple are here be­cause of their pas­sion­ate love for films, that re­ally touched me. They re­ally just want to nur­ture film­mak­ers and the film­mak­ing in­dus­try in Sin­ga­pore. The whole team is very small and it’s very tight-knit.”

What’s Your Feel-Good Film: “I re­ally like the Be­fore Sun­rise and Be­fore Sun­set se­ries be­cause not only is the sto­ry­line beau­ti­ful, but they also took nine years to film the se­quel. They have th­ese re­ally long, un­cut shots so the whole se­ries re­ally feels like a pas­sage of time. There’s also Re­al­ity Bites, which isn’t en­tirely my favourite film, but it was rel­e­vant to me dur­ing my piv­otal years grow­ing up.”

The New Kid On The Block Low Ser En, 28, BAFTA-win­ning Pro­ducer, mm2 En­ter­tain­ment

The Kal­lang-born pro­ducer was the name on ev­ery­one’s lips af­ter pick­ing up an award at the Bri­tish Academy of Film and Tele­vi­sion Arts (BAFTA) last Fe­bru­ary for her 12-minute stop-mo­tion short film Poles Apart – and she’s gone from strength to strength since re­turn­ing to her na­tive soil.

“When Poles Apart won at the BAFTAs, I was speech­less and in shock. I couldn’t be­lieve it. I had worked on it as a grad­u­a­tion project and had a hand in the script’s di­rec­tion and its edit­ing process as well as han­dling the bud­get­ing and film’s sched­ule over a pe­riod of 15 months,” shares Ser En, who has a Bach­e­lor in Fine Arts from Nanyang Tech­no­log­i­cal Univer­sity.

“We were in­spired by a news­pa­per ar­ti­cle about cli­mate change and how it af­fected po­lar bears in the north and griz­zly bears in the south, so we de­cided to take that and turn it into a love story about th­ese bears meet­ing as a re­sult of their nat­u­ral habi­tats be­ing eroded.”

Since then, Ser En has worked on hor­ror flick Zom­biepura as an as­so­ciate pro­ducer for mm2 En­ter­tain­ment. The film made its de­but in Oc­to­ber to favourable re­views. “As a film pro­ducer I over­see ev­ery­thing from script devel­op­ment to the shoot it­self to post­pro­duc­tion, and edit­ing to mar­ket­ing. We of­ten have a role in the creative process and the busi­ness as­pect of a film and we jug­gle mul­ti­ple films at one go,” Ser En ex­plains, adding that her ca­reer choice did re­ceive some push­back from her con­ser­va­tive par­ents.

“When I won the BAFTA, I told my mum and she said, ‘Did you re­ally win? I didn’t see you on TV’, which gave me a good laugh. Deep down I think they are se­cretly proud of me but it was tough for them to ac­cept my job be­cause some­times there are no mone­tary re­wards to show for it.

“I was all right pur­su­ing film pro­duc­ing and spend­ing all my time on set be­cause of my pas­sion, but for my par­ents, they felt that I could have cho­sen an eas­ier path to suc­cess.”

What’s Your Feel-Good Film: “Gat­taca, which is an odd choice but when­ever some­one asks me what movie I would make if I had $100 mil­lion, I al­ways say Gat­taca. It’s a sci-fi movie but it has a very hu­man story be­hind it and it acts as a metaphor for so­ci­ety by look­ing at what will hap­pen to the hu­man con­di­tion if we take the sciences too se­ri­ously.”

NICOLE WEARS T-SHIRT AND JACKET FROM SAN­DRO; SKIRT FROM MAX MARA; BOOTS FROM JIMMY CHOO; AND RING FROM ATE­LIER SWAROVSKI.

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