You might have heard about local stars taking on the challenge of directing their own telemovies, as the Fresh Takes! initiative roared to life in search of new blood in the local entertainment industry - be it in acting, directing, or scriptwriting.
Local actors Bryan Wong, Romeo Tan, Shane Pow, Priscelia Chan, Joanne Peh and Ian Fang will be making their respective directorial debuts through this initiative, and were joined by production teams from Mediacorp, Wawa Pictures, August Pictures and Studiomonki. Each team was tasked to produce a short film under 30 minutes.
Toggle spoke to the six first-time directors at the Fresh Takes! press conference on Friday (Mar 1), and all of them told a similar story - that they wanted to share an important message, often close to their hearts - with audiences.
Although they might have approached their respective projects with similar intentions, we soon realised that their stories are very different from each other - after all, no two people have walked the same path, and have different stories to tell the world.
The first such message we uncovered is from Shane Pow, who told us more about his coming-of-age story, Remember Us This Way.
His project, which sees two timelines interwoven to tell the story, is of four friends who spent some of the best days of their lives while they were in school together. Before they split up and walked their separate ways, they buried a time capsule in their school, promising to return in a decade. One timeline takes place while they are still in school, while the other is of these friends living their own respective lives 10 years later.
“One of the most important things I wanted to share through this project is the importance of treasuring what and who you have around you at any moment in time,” Shane mused during our interview with him and his girlfriend-plus-lead-actress-plus-advisor Kimberly Wang.
“You might be best of friends with a certain group of people in one point in your life but as your paths diverge and you go on to different things, it’s unavoidable that you drift apart.”
“At times, you try to meet up again, but somehow, such meetings rarely happen as you tell yourself, ‘Aiya, there’s always next time’, ‘It’s okay, we can always meet next time’ or ‘We’re too busy now, so maybe next time’. There’s always this belief that there will be a next time, so it’s something you put off because there are other things that you have or want to do.”
“The message that I wanted to say is to not put things off until 'next time', because you don’t know if there will be another chance.”
This was a story that Shane wanted to tell based on his own experiences, but never would he imagine that such poignant parallels would be drawn between his project and what recently happened in our lives.
“Shane initially wanted to have Aloysius (Pang) to be part of the cast,” Kimberly shared. “But his reservist dates clashed with our filming dates, so that didn’t work out.” Aloysius’ passing happened after they wrapped filming, which hit a little too close to home.
“It was definitely hard,” Shane mused as he continued, “But I felt that finishing this project was the least I could do, and it also served as a reminder to myself that you can never predict what will happen in the future.”
What made them want to work together again?
“I feel like Kim is always casted as the rich b****y girl, so I wanted to write a character that is far from that,” Shane chuckled. “I remember there was this time when we were going through the lines, and I told her, ‘Can you say it again, but more like an ah lian?’ I know that she can do more than the kinds of roles that she usually gets, so this was the perfect opportunity for me to showcase that.”
The couple also often bounced ideas off each other even during the pre-production phase, as Kimberly let on that Shane would have all sorts of suggestions, whereas she, being the more practical one, would ask him in return about how such a scene would be executed. This would either lead the both of them to realise that it was a feasible (and sometimes brilliant) idea, but at other times, it also ended up as a, ‘Oh ya hor, cannot leh’ moment.
“Working together is also quite shiok lah, I would say,” she continued with a grin, “You can go to work together, knock off together, and basically spend time together while you’re working. I don’t say technically working, because we do get work done.”
Fresh Takes! debuts March 15, 9pm on Channel U and Toggle.
Remember Us This Way airs March 22, 9.30pm on Channel U and Toggle.