100 SECONDS ON THE RED SOFA: Potocol
About 100 Seconds On The Red Sofa
100 Seconds On The Red Sofa shines the spotlight on movers and shakers in the Singapore film and media scene, with each episode featuring people that are making waves and contributing to the industry’s growth and enrichment.
The Red Sofa has come a long way and has a rich history, dating all the way back to Sinema Old School in 2007. It’s seen a generation of young local filmmakers come into their own; now we’re dusting it off for another round.
The Atelier is a workshop organised by Cinéfondation as part of the Cannes Film Festival, where directors and producers of selected feature film projects are chosen to participate. Apart from partaking in the festival, they also get a chance to network with one another. This year, among the fifteen that were chosen is Burmese film The Women directed by independent filmmaker The Maw Naing and co-produced by a Singaporean film company, Potocol.
Potocol’s co-production of The Women lies among a long track record of other productions like Brotherhood (2015), A Yellow Bird (2016), and A Family Tour (2018), all of which have been screened at various film festivals abroad.
One of the founders of the company, Jeremy Chua, sat with us on the Red Sofa to share his thoughts about The Maw Naing’s politically-charged and deeply personal story. Growing up in a military-governed Myanmar, The Maw Naing’s first-hand experience with violence and observations of the oppressed despite the onset of democracy prompted the development of this story.
It is this individualistic take on troubling issues in Myanmar that interested Jeremy Chua, a supporter of films that deviate from mainstream content. Such films can bring diversity to a sometimes stagnant and over-commercialised cinema that we are familiar with. He speculates that it is perhaps for this reason that The Women was selected for the Atelier. While the primary aim of the Atelier is to aid young filmmakers in funding, completion and distribution of their projects, it is important that the projects are representative of cultures and address current issues. The idea is to present a fresh perspective of what’s happening around the world to an international audience.
The Women had also been selected for Switzerland’s Open Doors program at the 2018 Locarno Film Festival, awarding The Maw Naing with funds and prestige. The project’s selection into this year’s Atelier is another important prelude to its production that is targeted to begin in early 2020. In bringing together veterans of the industry, the Atelier is where co-production partners can be sought out for financing and distribution purposes. A co-production deal with Bert Pictures, who have an office in Yangon, is also forthcoming.
On the note of film production, Jeremy analogises the entire process as a complicated blueprint with things like manufacturing, delivery, marketing, distribution and points of sale to consider. For him, much of the producer’s job is learned not from film school but from the experiences of working with local and international directors.
Despite the demands that come with producing films, Jeremy remains passionate about producing films that bring diversity and inclusivity into cinema. To challenge the blockbuster machine that has taken over the industry and – loosely speaking – reduced films to commercial products, Jeremy calls for local cinemagoers to indulge in a larger, more culturally diverse cinema diet. Simply put, remain curious and world cinema will have more to share with you than you realise.
He and his team at Potocol are currently working on Motel Acacia, A Love Unknown and Tomorrow is a Long Time among a handful of projects in their post and pre-production stages. You can find out more about their work at their website.