100 SECONDS ON THE RED SOFA: Shoki Lin
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 Cinéfondation, part of the renowned Cannes Film Festival, is a programme that searches for new talent, showcasing short films submitted by film students from all around the world. Since its launch in 1988, over 2,600 student films have been submitted to the Cinéfondation – this year, amongst the twenty that were selected, is young homegrown director Shoki Lin’s short film, ADAM.
ADAM tells the story of a young biracial boy searching for his place in the world while having to precariously navigate his troubled family life—a narrative that only came together during the process of pre-production. Drawing inspiration from personal anecdotes and the fundamental human desire to belong, writer and director Shoki saw the film as an opportunity to root the story in universal social issues. “That, in a way, also organically informed the script as I was inspired by the places that I visited and the people we met along the way,” he says.
Shoki sees the film as a medium to further hone his craft in storytelling. Touching on issues of family and racial identity, ADAM explores a different style of filmmaking for him, one that was less on the nose and more subtle in its approach to exploring real-life themes. Naturally, as the story evolved in various directions, Shoki and his team faced difficulties in coming up with a grounded script, staying true to its central themes whilst telling it from a well-informed perspective.
For the Nanyang Technology University School of Art, Design & Media graduate, attending the Cannes Film Festival was not only an eye-opener, but an invaluable opportunity for this fresh-faced director to rub elbows and network with the other Cinéfondation directors and filmmakers. During his time there, he noticed that Eurpoean countries were more open to financially and commercially supporting narrative-driven films as artistic entities, something that lacks in the local industry. He calls for increased financial support and promotion in Singapore, believing it would trigger a snowball effect where less mainstream artistic endeavours like ADAM could thrive in a more mature commercial world.
The award-winning director has also recently been nominated for best Live Action film at the National Youth Film Awards 2019 (NYFA), returning as a past NYFA Best Picture Award winner for his short film Changi.
“I’m most intrigued by stories that unnerve a part of character that we don’t usually witness. And I think these kind of films bring us a little bit closer to understanding what it means to be human,” he muses. For him, the unrivaled sense of reward and accomplishment of seeing all the carefully crafted elements of ADAM culminate in a cohesive body of work, was worth every drop of blood and sweat, and every tear.
Continuing on this path of exploring human truths through film, Shoki is looking to direct more narrative-focused short films touching on subject matter that extend beyond the world of their characters.