Saturday, March 1, 2014


163rd Post...Gotta post something special, cos there's a 3 in the post number, didn't forget the blog-play, haha

Alright let's go.

Today is my first weekend experience from my first ever full-time job. That's something special to me. I will come back to this point again. To start off, let's talk a little bit about the past. 

In 2013, I've made one random post, my first post, and a "I-should-slap-my-face-for-doing-this" post, my second post. Both posts cover nothing about my life in 2013, though they reflect much to me in hindsight and so for blog-sake, I shall explain why by uncovering what had happened in 2013.

For the first 5 months, and plus the last few months of 2012, I was fully engaged myself in writing my first feature-length screenplay for my Final Year Project. It was my last and most important module in the degree course. It was what I called it, "Fulfill Your Passion" Project as I started out doing it, and eventually calling it "(Just) Finish Your Project" Project when the deadline was coming on 8th May 2013, being the ultimate/2nd deadline, in which I must hand in the printed copies or else I will fail the module right away. For those who doesn't know what to do for their FYP, it's "Find Your Passion" time~ One way or another, it pretty much is gonna be Fun/Frustrating, Yawning/Yelling, Perplexing/Purifying. For me, I had gone through all of these and I love every single moment of my FYP.

The passionate ones, including me, will see the project as an important event that one should go all out, to present their knowledge and passion about Cinema, to tell a personal story, to spread some ideas in film or written form, to record something dear to themselves in documentary form, or to simply create a work that would become a memorable gift for themselves as a film student, provided they have given all out. The word, 'Final' in the term FYP, means a lot to us here. It would mean that we might never get a chance to do this again when we step into the working world, and this is truly our last attempt/moment to be part of something we really like, in the role of a creator, or rather auteur in this context. Going all out we must. 

Before I talk about my writing experience, I want to share that I had plans to shoot my own 20-30 minutes film for my FYP as most film students would prefer to do, but I ended up choosing to write instead. For sure I would like to write and direct (and of course, fund) my very own narrative film, seeing my story idea coming to life, through moving images, sound, editing, interesting dialogues etc. If the end result was good, you can safely say that you are some of the luckiest person on earth to have gone through such journey and getting such reward at the end. If the result was bad, it is still a good attempt and we should make better film next time, cheers. However, I still did not do it even though I know it is worth the try no matter what. Reason being I just could not see myself being able to piece up the parts needed to make the film before I had to lock in my final decision for my FYP to the school, on whether I will be making a film or documentary, or writing a screenplay or novel. I just do not want to make a half-ass film, which is going to be a great waste of my effort and resource if I did not prepare well, such as finding the right casts, locations and crew etc. Not mentioning, a great waste of my crew's time and effort if I did not prepare well and wanting to start shooting it for I "had to". Every second of a poorly-made film with half-ass prep work is painful to watch, at least for me. This definitely is the point of view of the Production manager or Producer for a film project, and I did not let the Director role to dictate my judgement at an early stage.  Anyway, the film idea of mine would involve 2 main characters (lots of screen time), and around 8 side characters (little screen time). I kind of like the story, but there was a scene which I find it relatively difficult to realize, and I was not at all confident and comfortable with the whole thing, so I just convinced myself that I should forgo this film idea and try something else, something I can manage, but I just could not. The only other thing that was running in my head and heart during that time was what was going to be the story idea for my first ever screenplay. It would be a sci-fi story in a pretty epic scale. I know I was setting myself up for another deep shit hole, but this time, knowing that I will be the only one suffering the consequences from its failure, I gladly went on to write with nothing to worry about. Also, I wanted to try writing this story because there was something far more intriguing that I had found/felt in this largely undeveloped story world of mine, pulling me in instantly the moment I began to engage it at the early stage. (Extra note: From this evaluation stage for my FYP, it was clear to me that I am extremely uptight before I go on shooting a film. I want to be sure that I have the right people, sets and everything...up to 80 or 90% in control in the pre-pro stage. And I see people's time and intention to help as something highly precious in which I couldn't tolerate if the quality of the film is bad because my story/script or film direction was not well thought out in the first place. The funny thing about film making is that you can never prepare enough for a film, and when you start shooting it, things will take a various different way. You are never ready when you are a part of this living world call film and you have to constantly react to it, experiment, refine, re-examine, retry...with time, budget, resources and constraints constantly fighting for your attention as well. With this said, the way to approach film making is to really do it and keep doing it...with better thinking, planning and reaction-action the next time round as experience adds up. To start off making your film with ease, you must be either 50% insane or 50% stupid The insane ones can see the lacking parts or upcoming problems, but still film it anyway because they live in/for film. The stupid ones can start off with ease because they cannot see the problems. People like me who place high importance in clarity and control for a film project will most likely end up getting little done at the end. We can say that it can help us to avoid investing in a wrong film, but failure is highly encouraged in filming. Only to realize it more as I study film. Failing is exactly how it works. You are just making things up right from the start, and then you are trying to make things look right throughout the process. Nothing is right in filming, from the beginning to the end. And isn't this the best? Now, about the worst of filming, the horrifying lighting, the crappy sound recording, the lousy acting, the noobish directing...whatever the problems, you have got yourself a record of the actual time and space of that moment of actors' life, and occasionally your life and crew members' life in your video camera. That in itself is something priceless and worth keeping. Rare footage from the past are certainly far more precious than the footage of the modern days, but every record is unique, and that's the endless reward that filming can provide you with. Every playback is going to put a smile or crazy laughter on your face. The only bad things that can happened, are again, the inability to make the film/fiction that you want it to be, and the spent money. No need to talk much about the money part, you will understand. And so, I will go on filming, and much insanity is needed.)

On my writing experience for my FYP, I would like to talk about "The Spark" that sparked off a new rush of imagination and curiosity that would subsequently spurred me to make the huge decision to writing an ambitious sci-fi story, in which I must mention, is highly unlikely to be fully realized into a film, due to its scale, and therefore I am probably writing just to please myself. I wanted to write it simply because I want to follow my heart, and let it go wild for the final time perhaps, while at the same time, unleashing all my knowledge, life experience and effort to make sure that it is at least a readable piece when it is done. In this sense, I am 50% insane when approaching to write this screenplay. The school system (forcing us early to decide on the type of FYP to make) and deadline also played a vital role to keep me focused, be on my toes, working non-stop and squeezing every single creative/life juice that I have in me. "The Spark" is actually a tiny scribble that I have made on a rough A4 paper filled with many other scribbling. In that few drawing lines, I have found myself a simple set-shot or mood-board to would give birth to a story world of its own, and so I believe. For days, that image just kept reappearing in my head, and my brain seemed to voluntarily help me linked up my interests, concerns, thoughts and ideas to fill up this world. Soon enough, a rough story outline was formed. It all happened effortlessly and following after, I made the switch to writing it as a screenplay for my FYP.

Basically, it took me a couple of months of running the story in my head, including planning the story structures and scene layout, before I start to write the first scene at early 2013. I do have a few other assignments to finish and have to help out my friends’ FYP during the process. Other than that, I put all my time to writing it and barely finished the first draft on 08 May 2013. As part of the requirements, I have written a reflection note which is of 8 pages long, and it documented most of my thoughts and feelings about the writing experience. I will not be sharing the details, too dense! this post as I want to cover other areas as well, but here’s a line (not the last) from my last paragraph of the note, “Lastly, I would like to sum up that this screenwriting experience has been especially inspiring, gut-wrenching, self-revealing and rewarding for me.” Note that I am still working on it, slowed down much, because there was no deadline for 2nd draft maybe.

What’s next after submitting the work? Holiday! Freedom! Pure Joy!

Linking up: The random thoughts from first post of 2013 ended up finding its way into my screenplay, giving me perspective, crystallizing some important themes for the story. Like film, you cannot prepare enough for a screenplay, you will have to write it, and things will always take shape in ways you can never expect them to be. I was thankful for that random post, and that post now rightfully summed up the first half of my 2013. The next half of my 2013 would reflect in my 2nd random post in 2013. It's all wow, and woohoo. Let's take a look.

From July to September, I returned to Singapore for 2 months, staying at my sister’s boyfriend’s place. Utterly grateful to my sis and her boyfriend for letting me stay for so long, and we sure had some great time together, awesome. The trip is all about catching up with my sis, my friends, Singapore and the food there, haha. Had a truly great time doing so, and I wish I could have stayed longer, but the fact that I should be getting a job and start working right away so as to truly establish my adult life, (I do not regard myself as an adult when I was still schooling as I still take pocket money from my parents) about being a professional worker, earning salary, manages my own life etc…I realized that there was simply no time to waste anymore. Previously I even (insanely) planned to spend the next half a year or more to just draw the things I want to draw, something I really want to fully focus on, had to be postponed indefinitely. Shame on myself for not growing up.
Once I was back in Hong Kong, I went full force developing my portfolio as a concept artist/ illustrator. It took me a while to finish it and start applying for jobs in both Singapore and Hong Kong. Here comes reality. I had never research or think about what kind of job I can get in these places. I know I will want to work on something that requires me to draw and design, and I have been working on this during my free time, but I have never prepare for it in a professional manner. I have no idea why I have overlooked this. Perhaps I thought these days are still far away from me when I was in school. Wanting to give my all for my FYP certainly took away lots of my attention, but I still should spare some time to think about my life about University studies. Surely, I was in a comfortable spot, with my parents still living around me, and having nothing to worry about, except for getting better as an individual. Still, I fell short…way short in this real world…way way way short in the entertainment industry which requires 2 to 3 years of relevant working experience for low paying, long hours entry level job. I thought I could fulfill their requirements as I applied for the jobs, namely as 2d graphic artist, but most of the time, I did not get their reply and the several times I went for my interviews, I did not make it to the second round. My lack of working experience and software skills had put me somewhat a useless person who only has one skill, drawing, and not really of high standard too.

Reality hits hard, for reality has always been around.

I have been living in a fantasy world, the switch of lens, or seeing the world in a different angle, where money, marketing, profits, target customers, promotions etc. are what truly matters, I pretty much have nothing to offer. Being jobless since the day I start applying for one is yet another unique and even fruitful experience for me. For all I know, I somehow always see negative stuff happening in my life as something good for my personal growth; there is a lesson to learn somewhere. The lesson got larger as days gone by, I felt like a useless person. Went to jobsdb website every day to look out for job openings, and applied them even though I do not wish to work for them. I do not wish to contribute to something that has no intention to make the society a better place. My knowledge about the righteous way of living does not make sense in this real world in so many ways that I helplessly worried about how I am going to live in this world. And I have not step into it yet, just in the middle of nowhere, in the midst of a very cold winter, feeling terrible, thinking pessimistically. I was super unproductive when I should be churning out artworks of high level, in top speed, fully focused every day. I could not. I had no idea how time passed by, quickly when I did not want it to be, and slowly when it was all awful.

Fast forward. On 24 February 2014, I finally landed my first full-time job as a 2D Game Artist for a start-up company developing a mobile game. I got to mainly use Photoshop for this job, I got to help design the assets for the game, the travelling part is alright, the co-workers are cool…I like my job, and more importantly, I am entirely grateful for this work opportunity. I have finally fit in, and see myself functioning in this real world without too much friction. The time for me to feel sorry for myself was over. Now I am fully focused during my job, wanting to make the game work, so that the company can grow, so that I can grow, while hoping that our game is not causing much harm to the people in any ways so that I can sleep well at night, so that I can work hard again the next day. I have yet to see how this work loop will work for me, but I am pretty sure I am fully into the next phase of my life, building up some real parts of me. Whatever will be, will be.

One fine day, when I am strong enough I will resume my half-a-year to a full-year “Draw My Passion” Project. I will escape into my own world again and produce things that I believe will make myself happy or benefit mankind. My 50% insane theory has to kick in again, or hell with it, I am talking about 100% insane right here, lol. Cool, it’s getting real late for me, few more minutes to 3am as I am writing now, cannot think properly already. This is how I have spent my first day of my weekend after 5 working days. I wanted to blog after my FYP, but I was too tired to type anymore, and so I waited till I return from Singapore, but I was busy with portfolio stuff. And then came the jobless phase. Finally reached to this point where I think I can breathe properly and post something blog-worthy…and I want to do it in one shot. Was looping this music piece while typing this post, the play counter recorded 190 plus times played, took me some time to type this post man. Nice piece btw.

Earlier on today, I watched Dallas Buyers Club online. Totally enjoyed the movie, charmed by the acting of the lead actor and the supporting actor, and I liked the story, the character relationship, the execution and the editing. The whole thing flows well and I particularly like the last shot and a few scenes of show. It was a good movie and I should have watched it in the Cinema. Sorry guys for not supporting. A highly recommended film.

Yup, gonna watch some interviews and read some reviews about the show tomorrow. I will also start to draw my own stuff, hone my skills and escape from the real world for a little more while.

Qn: What’s special about this 163rd post?
Ans: Eh, I wrote a lot?