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The making of Becoming Royston: Preface – The Fly by Night Filmmakers

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Suppose you are the average twentysomething Singaporean guy. You follow a routine day in, day out. You wake up the same time every work day, grab the papers and read the LIFE! section of The Straits Times while in the toilet.

When you’re done, you wash your hands, brush your teeth, wash your face and shave. And while you take that third look at yourself (at this point you are slowly waking up), you think about what you just read in the papers.

There’s this guy who’s featured on the cover page, and his story? Well, he probably got to do what he always wanted to and did reasonably well at it, and now he’s the topic of the week. But in the middle of that thought, you look up at the clock and you realise that you are 23 minutes late, and you’ve missed the bus or train that would get you to work on time.

So you skip the morning shower, change into the work clothes faster than Superman and call for a cab. The line’s engaged and you dash downstairs and run to the main road only to realise that you are probably 7th in the “queue”.

While you start inhaling the fresh morning carbon monoxide, you start thinking about the guy you were reading about just a while ago, the guy in the article that you were thinking about that made you late. You remember him saying something about quitting his high-paying job to do something different, something that he always wanted to do even when he was a child.

You suddenly start thinking about life, about your life. You start thinking about a reason not to go to work. You start thinking about how you get to be that guy.

Some of you might be wondering what the hell all this has to do with making a film. Well, the answer is: everything.

I had just resigned from my job in a Japanese multinational, after trying to love what I did there. The only reason I’d joined the company in the first place was to make my parents happy, plus ex-girlfriends used to complain about my lack of regular income without that job. Now I was getting back into gear and rebuilding my day job as a photographer and digital imaging consultant.

October 30, 2005 — Halloween at Zouk. We hadn’t planned to go but for some strange reason, Terence, Randy and myself were at the old studio watching television, and the pilot episode of Project Runway was on air. It was a reality competition programme for fashion designers, about creation, about producing and making something.

Suddenly, we felt a rush of adrenaline and we were thinking of the cheapest Halloween costume we could put together at the last minute. We decided to go as the “Axe Gang” from Stephen Chow’s Kung Fu Hustle, because we had the black suits already and just needed to make some “axes” with leftover cardboard and aluminum foil.

So we went and received so much attention. People wanted us to do the “Axe Dance” and take photos with us! When the night was over, while we were walking back to the car, we shot a short video clip using the mobile phone and suddenly it all made sense. We could make a short film of the dance sequence and put it on the web for fun!

A couple of days later, Randy told me that Objectifs was organising the Fly By Night video challenge again and we could take part in it! There was money to be won! I wasn’t sure at all about this filmmaking thingy. Sure, I’ve always wanted to make a film but this was too soon. Randy insisted that we could do it and, well, we did. He managed to round up the troops (it helps when most of your friends are either in the industry or have studied video/filmmaking) and the rest is history: we won one of the 10 judge’s awards as well as the Audience Choice award.

About 3 weeks after Fly By Night, we were clearly developing withdrawal symptoms; Randy and I were feeling as if something was missing in our lives. The urge was too strong to resist.

We needed to make another film.

(to be continued)

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2 Comments

  1. […] (to be continued) Previous posts on “The Making of Becoming Royston”: […]

  2. 3 January 2007 at 10:26 pm

    Yeah, sidestepping a predictable fate and heading off for the unknown instead – sounds like an expressway to getting yourself into serious trouble. And some fun, for sure.
    Certainly propells you toward that other day when you get up and can’t help but thinking that, wow, it just feels like yourself today!
    The old story, yet ever so fresh. My respect!

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