100 SECONDS ON THE RED SOFA: Progress3 min readReading Time: 3 minutes
Progress lands itself in a totalitarian, dystopian society that callously removes rebels of the state, with the use of flying drones and laser-shooting arm-guards. Sergeant Major Lam goes about his day, raiding a rebel hideout as usual, when an intimately familiar voice comes from a hooded figure.
Emerged as a student thesis project from NTU’s School of Art, Design and Media’s film programme, Progress was given a Special Mention under the Media Student Category at the 2019 National Youth Film Awards.
Inspired by sci-fi, action films like Robocop, Terminator 2 and District 9, director and writer Alistair Quak wanted to show that violence-oriented and high-quality visual effects films are possible in the local scene. Having wanted to make films since young, he was determined to see through a film of such a scale and genre that had gotten him into film-making in the first place. Progress was the only student thesis film which demanded such advanced fight scenes and explosions, but it was a technical challenge that was worth the risk as Progress received a Special Mention at the 2019 National Youth Film Awards.
Producer Tan Jia Min shared more about the VFX team that the film team worked together with in order to produce the impressive graphics, a first-time collaboration for both sides. While a lot of research, communication, and understanding was needed, Jia Min attributed the shared drive and determination of both teams in making Progress a reality, “We were lucky that our VFX team was made up of extremely driven, passionate, and creative individuals who helped to push the film we much as the film team did.” The VFX student team was comprised of James Ng, Justin Cho, Ziyaad Siffique, Nicholas Yoon, and Wesley Chan.
With Progress as a final year student project, Alistair admitted that a lot more time and work had to go into making the high-quality visual effects he had envisioned. “It’s intense, especially at a student level where we were learning along the way, from beginning to end. It’s genuinely been super time-consuming and intense, but ultimately very rewarding.” Alongside tight deadlines, Jia Min revealed that they were unable to follow through with traditional industry post-production workflows and “had to get creative”, including chopping up the film into 7 segments.
As recent graduates, both Alistair and Jia Min saw their future still lying in the film industry. Alistair’s passion lies in telling stories that first entertain, but also make an impact. With Progress, Alistair hoped that it would encourage investors to take a leap of faith into such genres. For him, the film has shown that “specific genre films can be made for cheap and be as successful as its other bigger more expensive counterparts.”
Jia Min believed in film’s ability to evoke emotions and draw people together. Seeing a gap between the current local commercial and arthouse industries, Jia Min confessed to wanting to bridge it. “I constantly wondered about how local mainstream films could be made with more depth and quality, and at the same time how independent films could be made more accessible to general audiences.”
Look out for Progress in future screenings!
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.