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Spurring Singaporeans to #StayHomeForSG – An Interview With Producer Jessy Lee and Actor Shrey Bhargava11 min read

1 May 2020 8 min read


Spurring Singaporeans to #StayHomeForSG – An Interview With Producer Jessy Lee and Actor Shrey Bhargava11 min read

Reading Time: 8 minutes

Inspired by Ng Swee San’s Creatives Commissioning Creatives initiative, the MADEinSG x National Youth Council 5-day Creative Challenge aims to encourage members of the MADEinSG community to make the best out of the circuit breaker period. Contestants are to create positive and useful COVID-19 messages for Singapore’s youth aged between 15 – 35 years old.

For its pilot round, contestants were challenged with either creating a poster or to film a monologue. Entries were to be designed for social media and had to be embedded with the key message of #StayHomeforSG.

This pilot round was organised with support from Zoom Singapore. Together with the National Youth Council, the judges each category were Jackson Tan, Creative Director for BLACK, for the poster category, and Alvin Tan, Artistic Director of The Necessary Stage, for the monologue category.

Six finalists were chosen for the poster category, each winning a cash prize of $200. They are:

Liew Xi
Ming Ho
Moses Pang
Muhammad Haziq Jamari
Nikki Ho
The Hidden Good

Check out all their designs here! The overall winner of this round is the team of Jessy Lee, Shariffa Annisa and Muhammad Ghazzalle, taking home a cash prize of $600.

Meanwhile, nine finalists were shortlisted for the monologue category, with each awarded a cash prize of $200. They are:

Lou Shixun
Venezia Lim
Shannen Tan Wei Ting
Chen Wei, Victoria
Larry Low Long Wei
Abby Lai Ka Hei
Wayne Gerard Ree
Pang Sern Yong
Clara Ventus Putri

All of their works can be found here! Taking home the top prize in this category is actor Shrey Bhargava, winning a cash prize of $600 and a Zoom Q2n4k 4K Handy Video Recorder worth $310 courtesy of City Music Singapore.

Sinema.SG caught up with the winners of both categories to find out about their winning entry, how they have been holding up during the circuit breaker period, and what they are looking forward to after the pandemic eases.

Jessy Lee, representing her team of Shariffa Annisa and Muhammad Ghazalie

Tell us about yourself and your work in the industry.

Hi, I’m a Producer with Infidow Pictures. Infidow Pictures is relatively new in the industry, established in May 2018 but we are a team of young individuals, passionate in this industry and have been expanding ever since.

As we are a start-up, besides the usual producing work from pre to post-production, my day-to-day job also includes a little bit of everything. One of it includes quality control (a rule of thumb in our company is if you can’t satisfy the producer, you can’t satisfy the client/audience). It might sound like a lot of work and I do feel overwhelmed at times but the satisfaction is rewarding. Doing what you love sounds simple but means the world to me.

How was the poster conceptualised?

It started with some simple sketches of home but we felt something was missing. We wanted to design something more three-dimensional so we enhanced the look and feel of the home, hoping each activity inside the home is able to resemble a household in Singapore. After we finalised the home design, we decided on the colour palette. 

(Drafts of the winning poster entry / Note: Intellectual property of Infidow Pictures)

As you can see, the shades of the wall were originally of one-tone. It may be the case for most houses to have similar paint but we wanted to boost morale and fun during these trying times so we revised the home to have more colourful walls instead. Thereafter comes the difficult part in deciding which icon was best to represent Singaporeans and its residents. 

(Drafts of the winning poster entry / Note: Intellectual property of Infidow Pictures)

At first attempt, we went for superheroes. We wanted to add a comedic tagline such as “If superheroes stay home, you should too”. However, we felt the superheroes theme seemed overused and we wanted the icon to be closely related to Singapore so we ended up with a lion instead. After all, Singapore is known as the Lion City.

What software did the team use to create the poster and were there any challenges in realising the team’s vision for it?

We used Adobe Illustrator to create the poster.

The biggest challenge was with us having to all work remotely now so we can’t just walk into one room, sit down and point out the changes immediately like we used to – verbal interaction is always clearer with less misunderstanding. However, we have been working on past projects together so the chemistry of combining ideas is there. Part of my job is to ensure the vision turns into creative collateral so that’s cool.

(From left to right: Muhammad Ghazalie, Jessy Lee, and Shariffa Annisa / Photo credit: Jessy Lee)

How was the work for the poster split between the three of you?

As a team, any good idea is welcomed. In general:

Jessy – As a producer, my job is to conceptualise the idea and provide detailed description to enhance every design. I provided my feedback honestly, in the view of an audience and made suggestions on how to improvise the design.

Sha – She was the illustrator of the project. She illustrated and digitalised our idea into reality.

Ghaz – He was the creative director behind this. He decided whether or not the arrangement, icons, overall look and feel was “creative enough” for submission.

Why did the team choose to tackle the key message of #StayHomeforSG in such an adorable way?

The reason Lion was used, as elaborated above, is because Singapore is known to be The Lion City. We decide to proceed with the adorable version of a lion as we hope to add some fun in this current situation. A little cuteness can’t seem to go wrong and it seemed fitting for any a

What have you been up to during the circuit breaker period?

Business is as usual for Infidow Pictures. As a Producer, I am actively managing current post-production projects that we have, such as animation and editing projects. During the downtime, I also have more head space to plan and conceptualise ideas for future productions. I also decided to write a script for the first time for the romance genre under The Inciting Incident, diversifying myself as a Producer.

What are your future plans in the post COVID-19 world?

We have been in active discussion with our partners on the upcoming launch of our YouTube channel, which will be love-themed and romance-oriented. Under the channel, we have plans for several reality series, review shows and eventually, original short films. We do believe the world needs more love after this pandemic and we are planning to be the channel that makes everyone feel love! We hope to get more partners on board and hopefully, by the end of 2020, you will see this channel launch with much love! 

Below is an Instagram teaser collateral, which is yet to launch anywhere.

(Note: Intellectual property of Infidow Pictures)

Shrey Bhargava

Tell us about yourself and your work in the industry.

I’m Shrey and I’m an Actor. I’m 25 this year and am graduating with a double degree in Dramatic Arts and Cinema & Media Studies from the University of Southern California (USC) on 15 May! I’ve been acting since I was 5, primarily in school drama clubs, till I was about 15. That’s when I had my first foray into acting outside school with the wonderful Buds Youth Theatre program. 

Subsequently, I trained with Singapore Repertory Theatre’s Young Company, and independently with Haque Centre of Acting & Creativity. After completing my A-Levels, I served my NS with the SAF Music & Drama Company (SAF MDC) as an actor and host, and also got the opportunity to be a contestant on The 5 Search. I finished as a runner up on the show.

Being 19 then, that was quite the experience jumping into the TV industry. I learnt a lot. Following that, I had the privilege of hosting the 28th Southeast Asian Games alongside industry veterans, which was another wonderful experience in my journey and growth. From 2016 – 2017, I had the opportunity to play a series regular on Mediacorp’s Fine Tune, acted in Dragonflies by [Singapore theatre company] Pangdemonium and played a lead in K Rajagopal’s Lizard on the Wall

Since then, I’ve been primarily busy with finishing up college, and have had some invaluable experiences acting in American theatre, web series, pilot video games as well as hosting segments for a local TV series while there.

(Shrey on Channel 5’s reality TV competition ‘The 5 Search’ / Photo credit: MediaCorp Channel 5)

What spurred you to tackle the theme in such an emotionally moving way?

As an actor, I have had the privilege of tackling both dramatic and comedic roles, but I have found that as a writer I incline towards drama a lot more. That’s because I find that writing good comedy is truly much more difficult. 

As such, when approaching this challenge, I wanted to dive deep into a realistic moment of emotional drama that youths might be experiencing as a result of the circuit breaker. And through this character’s pain, I hoped to communicate the ideals we ought to strive towards during this challenging time.

How did you prepare for the monologue?

I found out about this initiative on 21 April, so I had about four days. For most of the time, I was pondering on possible scenarios. Writing something evocative and powerful under a minute is tough, so I took my time to let my ideas marinate. 

On the day of submission I sat down for a focused amount of time and wrote the piece. The initial piece was much longer and I had to find ways to cut it down. I also made sure that the scenario was such that it had to look and feel like a video call – making it easier for me to simply hold the phone camera towards myself and act. Then I did just that – recorded myself practicing the piece till I had what I wanted under a minute!

(Photo Credit: Shrey Bhargava’s Facebook Page)

Other than the key message of #StayHomeForSG, what do you hope to bring across with your monologue?

I wanted to communicate that it is okay for all of us to be vulnerable during this time. That we should take this time in isolation to really confront everything within us that troubles us, so that we can grow in our authenticity. I also wanted to move people to spread love during this time and to be kind to one another, to recognize those that are less privileged and offer a helping hand to our best capacity, even when things get tough. Ultimately, I want us all to reckon with who we really are in order to be able to realize the possibilities of who we can really be.

What have you been up to during the circuit breaker period?

I have been finishing up my final college assignments and classes (which are mostly late at night – so I’ve been perpetually jet-lagged), and spending quality time with my family. I have also been experimenting with Zoom as a potential interactive performance platform with a wonderful group of artists, which I hope will translate into something concrete very soon. 

What are your future plans in the post COVID-19 world?

I hope to continue working as an actor across all three mediums of Film, TV and Theatre. As an artist, I hope to continue to encourage empathy among our community as Singaporeans, and within the world, through the work I create. I have hope that in the post COVID-19 world, we will collectively value such art and storytelling much more and so I hope to make my share of valuable contributions to that end.

Read more:
Creativity in Isolation – An Interview With Filmmaker and Multidisciplinary Art Practitioner Grace Song
Creatives Commissioning Creatives – A Trailblazing New Initiative to Encourage a Kinder Ecosystem Amongst Freelancers

There's nothing Matt loves more than "so bad, they're good" movies. Except browsing through crates of vinyl records. And Mexican food.
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