[GV25 Film Shorts] So I’m in a short film competition…

I was stammering. (Golden Village Cinemas)
I was stammering. (Golden Village Cinemas)

So about two to three months ago, I submitted my entry for the GV25 Film Shorts Competition. I didn’t think much of it at that time (I, er, forgot what title I used, although my premise was the same), since I was pretty sure that they’d pick another, more interesting premise to turn into a short film.

I say that because as much as I would like to see interesting media coming from Singapore, the fact is that most of our stuff is pretty… safe. Safe meaning either family-oriented, or super angsty.

I’ve think I’ve gone on my spiel often enough about how if an outsider were to watch the body of Singapore short films, they’d come to the conclusion that we’re a pretty depressed country since most of them are pretty angsty. To an extent, we are.

Then again, most short films are angsty, regardless of country. I mean, angst is the emotion that people can most easily identify with, and er yeah I did an angsty (okay, a few) angsty short films back in university, so I’m a bit of a hypocrite whenever I go on that rant.

So back to the competition. Singapore being a safe country, I thought that a family-oriented or angsty, emotional short film would be chosen. I had submitted a totally offbeat idea (ghosts of Raffles + Sang Nila Utama arguing about who is the rightful founder of Singapore) that was a comedy (so, not angsty) which you know, didn’t fit into the Singapore idea of “safe”.

Then woah I found out I got selected to pitch.

(From L to R) Janice Chiang and Aaron Khoo of the Tree Potatoes, local film directors Boris Boo and Kelvin Tong, President of the Singapore Film Society Kenneth Tan, and Golden Village's Programming Director Sharanjit Kaur. (Golden Village Cinemas)
(From L to R) Janice Chiang and Aaron Khoo of the Tree Potatoes, local film directors Boris Boo and Kelvin Tong, President of the Singapore Film Society Kenneth Tan, and Golden Village’s Programming Director Sharanjit Kaur. (Golden Village Cinemas)

The Pitch

8 of us were selected out of about 200 entries. 8 of us had to pitch our concept to a panel consisting of many important people that you can see in the picture above. And when I saw the other folk who were pitching, I was like… crap. I am so out of my league here.

I think I was the only person who was doing this solo. Everyone else was in a group. There was this really well-dressed fellow who brought this gigantic suitcase that I suspected had a projector inside, and he had two other kakis to help.

Then there was this other team who went in dressed in singlets and flipflops, I think they were going for a heartlander theme.

Then there was another group I met while going out, and they carried so many bags I was sure that they could have held full-fledged party in the cinema if they wanted to.

Whereas for me, I had only prepared a PowerPoint slide and some handouts (shoutout to my graphic designer for the deck templates). I was doing it alone. To make things worse, I had work right after the presentation that morning (teaching a Sec 2 class), so I already had a lot on my mind that day.

The presentation itself, I felt, was a mess. I swear I was stammering. I could not get Dutch courage since, you know, teaching a class of impressionable young students after that. I was all nerves and stuff. I was perspiring over everything.

8 of us. (Golden Village Mr Popcorn Facebook Page)
8 of us. (Golden Village Mr Popcorn Facebook Page)

The Email

Then about a week later, I got an email saying I was selected (so it’s 3 out of 8 out of 200).


Then, you know, because I was doing this solo and I didn’t expect to get selected, it hit me that I really, really, really needed help.

And cast.

And crew.

And money. (Although GV is providing some grant money, I kind of blew my budget. By a lot.)

And equipment.

3 of us. (Golden Village Mr Popcorn Facebook Page)
3 of us. (Golden Village Mr Popcorn Facebook Page)

The Cavalry

I couldn’t say anything until Golden Village gave the go-ahead, and after this article on Today Online came out, I could finally sort of talk about it. Despite me saying that Singapore should be less safe, I am also a fairly safe and rule-abiding person. Also, I did not want to lose the grant money.

After posting the article on Facebook like every good social media junkie does nowadays, I was bowled over by the offers of help I got.

Publicly, through Facebook Messenger, through Whatsapp, in person – I really couldn’t believe so many people were willing to help. For free or for “whatever you can pay me lah”. I’m not kidding, those are literally some of the messages I got.

At that point I had only asked a diretor-producer to help since I’m not exactly the most production minded of people and I was crossing my fingers that she’d agree (she did!).

I’m incredibly grateful to all the people who’ve offered, whom I’ve approached (and said yes), who’ve prayed for me (you know who you are), who’ve given me advice.

And to Golden Village for this chance, of course.

Most of all, I’m very very very thankful that there are people out there who have faith in me, enough to help me out with this. Like, more than three of you guys.

Thank you, all of you.

My name isn't Sang Nila Utama. (Golden Village Cinemas)
My name isn’t Sang Nila Utama. (Golden Village Cinemas)

Why I’m being so long-winded

I have 10 weeks left to do this (and in my mind, it’s like, oh shit oh shit oh shit).

It’s been a busy month (helping out with Transformers-related activities 😀 😀 :D) and my laptop met an untimely demise last week, creating this huge backlog of work that I’m currently drowning under.

But I think I should document this process. If not for posterity, then at least, erm, so other people can learn from my experiences. I’ll try to post something every week about this GV25 Film Shorts Competition. After I’ve written the script, that is.

And with some blessings, help, and a lot of hard work…

Maybe I’ll be a legit filmmaker one day.

[GV25 Film Shorts] So I’m in a short film competition…

[GV25 Film Shorts] I met my mentors (Tree Potatoes)! Rewriting in progress

[GV25 Film Shorts] I found all my cast! Plus more help appeared

[GV25 Film Shorts] Equipment check and feelings of inadequacy (not that kind of inadequacy)

[GV25 Film Shorts] Secretly kancheong during that nobody would laugh during the script read

[GV25 Film Shorts] Prep before the big day and whining about carrying equipment

[GV25 Film Shorts] The very, very, very long shoot days that we pulled through [Part 1 of 2]

[GV25 Film Shorts] The very, very, very long shoot days that we pulled through [Part 2 of 2]

[GV25 Film Shorts] Editing and the great escape from post-production hell

[GV25 Film Shorts] Animating 16-bit Final Fantasy games and mysterious photo shoots for posters

[GV25 Film Shorts] The finale: I didn’t win and here’s how I dealt with it

Raffles v Utama: Dawn of Singapore

And my hashtag is #RafflesVUtama if you want to check it out on Instagram!

Follow Marcus Goh (me lah) on Facebook and Instagram for more (presumably) good updates!

I’m a a Singapore television scriptwriter who’s written for Crimewatch, Police & Thief, Incredible Tales, and Point of Entry. I’m also a Transformers enthusiast and avid pop culture scholar. You can find me on social media as Optimarcus and on my site.

Send me an email if you want to get in touch!

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