100 SECONDS ON THE RED SOFA: You Idiot
You Idiot is a film by Kris Ong, which revolves around two best friends and music. As the two boys roam around the streets of Singapore at night, they begin to craft out a song about what’s to come in their happy-go-lucky world.
You Idiot won ‘Best Editing’, ‘Best Cinematography’ and ‘Best Original Music’ under the National Youth Film Awards’ Open Youth category.
Kris Ong is a writer-director who also doubles as the co-founder of Momo Co., a boutique film company which works with emerging filmmakers across Southeast Asia to develop works with culturally distinct content for a global audience. As a writer-director, Kris has written script coverage for a variety of scripts, short stories, and novels since 2016, and her latest short film, Sunday, will have its world premiere at the Palm Springs International ShortFest 2019.
With regards to her narrative film You Idiot, which chronicles two friends who are at the crossroads of their lives, she remarks, “I’ve known my friends for a couple of years now, and I love how gentle their friendship is. Gentleness is not a quality you see depicted often in many male friendships.”
Her friends — Darren Cheng and Adam Jared Lee — are musicians in local punk band Racoonhead, and they play the two leading roles in her film. As non-actors, they were not particularly familiar with a production shoot, and Kris tried to make the set as comfortable and intimate as possible to ease them into the acting process. On their end, they were willing to show as much of themselves as possible in front of the camera, and eventually the playfulness that she loved off-screen started to come across more sincerely in their acting.
“Funny story,” she adds. “I realised early on that I couldn’t tell them to just ‘be themselves’, because it would send them both into a kind of existential type tailspin: ‘Who am I, and how do I exist in this world?’”
As a storyteller, the types of stories she wants to put out in the world are things that audiences can relate to. Much like making a new friend, she wants her stories — and her characters — to have a place in the audience’s hearts. “In life and art, everything begins to have meaning to me when I can break past the fog and feel intimate with what’s happening in front of me. I want to tell stories that make the audience feel like they are talking to someone they know very well, where the audiences can continue telling their story in their own minds even after the film ends.”
To Kris, collaboration is fundamental in filmmaking. Though she might seem articulate when voicing out her thoughts about the production process for You Idiot on camera, most of these come from hindsight — the actual filmmaking process is more tangled and unclear, and that’s where building relationships with other filmmakers come in.
“I don’t think Singaporeans collaborate enough,” Kris comments, in relation to the current state of Singapore’s media industry. “There’s a weird competitive air, that if one person does well it means less pie for the rest of us, or if I collaborate with this person, it means I belong to this or that tribe. In reality, everyone benefits from other people’s successes and collaborations.”
Kris is hoping to make a feature-length film in a couple years’ time, while still creating shorts in-between. With regards to Momo Co., she and the other co-founder, Si En, are expanding their repertoire of short films, and will soon be embarking on a new journey with their first feature — Singaporean Nelicia Low’s God Sister.
Ultimately, though, her goal is simple: to watch a lot, read a lot, make a lot, love a lot — and finally, to get some much-needed rest.
Learn more about Momo Co. here.
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.