Singapore’s National Youth Film Awards (NYFA) has discovered a number of talented filmmakers, working as a springboard for that talent to establish their careers and at the same time, raise the profile of the Singapore film industry.
Now in its eighth year, NYFA is looking for the next generation of skilled individuals, filmmakers with a unique perspective just like last year’s winner, Yeow Su Xian who is still grateful for the acknowledgement.
Gaining confidence with animation
“The award has given me the confidence to be ambitious with animation. It has also allowed me to reach many industry professionals who have given me great insight on the realities and possibilities of the animation landscape in Singapore,” explains Su Xian. “Talking to them has been a great pleasure and inspiration. Being able to reach an audience has also sparked a desire to communicate through filmmaking, and winning this award has definitely opened this door for me.”
Su Xian says that not only has the mentorship and networking been of immense help, the various events and programmes that NYFA has organised have also been worthwhile.
“I think people got to understand the methodology behind my film, Full Circle, through these avenues. Many people have since reached out to me over social media to discuss it, which to me is one of the biggest rewards,” she says. “I’ve also managed to describe my film to a wider local audience through segments in articles and in the news. These have been great tools in communicating my ideas and have made more people interested in my thesis film, which would otherwise be limited to my school’s audience.”
Su Xian’s background was in illustration, so branching out into animated film was a huge jump for her, and the development of her work.
“I haven’t really worked on a lot of animated projects professionally, as my background is mainly illustrative, and my position at work is also mainly illustrative. In other words I don’t really think animation is as much a career for me as it is a personal interest and passion project,” Su Xian says. “However, I have been greatly encouraged since winning the award to continue animating on weekends or during my free time. I am currently working on my next film.”
Thoughts on the Singapore film industry
As with many creative fields, the Singapore film industry has seen a number of ups and downs over the years, but the current situation is moving in the right direction according to Su Xian.
“I think Singapore’s film industry is always changing. Especially since our generations are becoming more liberal and interested in creative expression, we see more emerging independent films and experimentation on social media.
“With VOD we are also exposed to a wider range of content, from different parts of the world, and censorship is also a lot different in this age as compared to five years ago when VOD was in a much more introductory phase in Singapore.
“The increased accessibility of film has informed new filmmakers about the different ways a story can be told, and it manifests in the variety of films being produced locally today. Audiences are also opening up to films that may not follow the archetypal narrative, and have started to develop a deeper appreciation for film. As such I think we have been given more opportunities to experiment in the Singaporean film industry,” says Su Xian.
The rise of Asian filmmaking
Alongside the positive changes in the local film industry, Su Xian says that generally the increased quality of regional and Asian film in general is very exciting.
“It’s very exciting to see more Asian films getting recognition on the global stage. I’m a big fan of the emerging Korean films that now have the budget to produce bigger things, and at the same time share their culture and personality with the rest of the world,” she says.
“It could possibly encourage more of Asia to enter the film industry professionally. That would also mean more jobs and a growing community in Asian filmmaking, that sounds very exciting to me. I think VOD has also helped to open people up to foreign language films.
“This burgeoning of Asian films has also patched the gap between Asian culture vs. its representation in a previously western dominated film world. I once found out that the iconic dinner table scene in many Asian films, commonly featuring prolonged silences and subtle comments hinting at their grievances, was intriguing and raw to a lot of my western peers. They were mainly brought up in an environment where expression was a lot more spoken and direct. Such scenes would demonstrate the conservative dynamic of some Asian families, that while not directly airing their grievances, could still be extremely sensitive and transparent,” points out Su Xian.
Su Xian is currently a full time illustrator who also does some animation, although illustration remains her “first love” she does have plans for another animated film.
“I do plan to continue illustration as my job, and use that as capital to fund passion projects in animation and other fun things. I am planning to build a fine art portfolio, and in the not so near future be part of an art residency somewhere overseas, maybe in a small village.”
The National Youth Film Awards 2022 will feature 24 awards across two categories – “Student” and “Open Youth”. Up to 60 films will be shortlisted, and qualify for award titles such as “Best Screenplay”, “Best Editing”, “Best Original Music”, etc. Participants must be 35 years old and under to submit their Animation, Live Action or Documentary films. This year’s winners can expect cash and attractive prizes worth an estimated total of S$70,000 including S$1,000 cash each, prizes from Mocha Chai Laboratories, SONY, Cathay Photo and more.
Submissions for the 8th NYFA close on May 13, 2022. To find out more about the submission details or to submit a film, go to scape.sg/nyfa.
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