NYFA Interviews Part 2: Christopher Pragasam, Executive Director of *SCAPE
Christopher Pragasam assumed position of Executive Director of *SCAPE on 1 January 2015. He concurrently holds the position of Director, Youth Engagement (Infrastructure Programming) in the National Youth Council (NYC) and is also a member of the *SCAPE Board.
Prior to *SCAPE, Christopher was the Deputy Director of the Youth Division in Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY). At MCCY, he worked with the National Youth Council (NYC) to conceptualise and implement youth engagement and development policies. He was involved in the setting up of the $100M National Youth Fund, Community and Youth Leadership Schools with MOE, Youth Corps Singapore, National Youth Internship Programme and Restructuring NYC and Outward Bound Singapore into an autonomous agency.
We speak with Christopher about his thoughts on engaging talented media students through the platform of the National Youth Film Awards (NYFA).
1. What are your thoughts about the Awards?
I think the National Youth Film Awards presents a very niche, but unique platform in identifying new youth media talents in Singapore. It is niche because the competition is only open to students in media-related courses of study (i.e. film or animation disciplines), and unique because we assess submissions based on existing school work and projects. You do not need to produce an entry specifically to participate in the competition. We also concentrate on the core skills of film and animation production which many similar competitions now lack. This way, we put everyone on the same level and set out to establish a national benchmark in the quality of Singaporean students’ work.
The National Youth Film Awards presents us with a unique opportunity to recognise aspiring youth filmmakers, as well those supporting these youth filmmakers, e.g. cinematographers, visual effects artists, audio engineers, production designers etc. It also serves as a platform to broadcast these wonderful works to a larger audience, allowing for these talents to be discovered.
2. How does the Awards embody *SCAPE’s mission?
The National Youth Film Awards is one of the many platforms that *SCAPE offers for the youth to showcase and express their talents, particularly in areas of media, music and dance. Other platforms include competitions, showcases and performances, etc, and *SCAPE takes a very proactive approach in providing these platforms to our youth to participate in. Besides film (which falls under our media programming pillar), we also hold several screenings, sharing sessions and workshops for youth to enrich themselves in other areas such as photography and content creation. There’s also the upcoming YouTube Fan Fest, which casts the spotlight on Singapore’s youth content creators as well.
3. What can this award do for local filmmaking youths, and for the local filmmaking landscape?
The National Youth Film Awards adds a feather to a recipient’s cap, knowing that the Award is given based on the quality of their submission, across all Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) in Singapore. Quite frankly, they are amongst the best of their cohorts of fresh or soon-to-be entrants of the film industry. Winning an award at NYFA also serves to encourage the recipient (of the Award) intrinsically to further their aspirations in developing their craft and pursuing a career in the film industry.
The NYFA identifies youth at a stage that is not commonly looked at. We concentrate on their potential (via their school work), expose them to industry partners and offer Award Winners opportunities to learn and hone their skills with them.
4. Anything to add?
We’re very heartened to see that so many schools and IHLs and industry organisations have stepped forward in support of NYFA. These linkages are very meaningful, and help us value-add to our youth in developing their careers and networks.