By Gan Chin Lin (17A01B), Vice-Chairperson
There is something about the sensation of gathering, in the complete darkness of a theatre, with a bunch of complete and utter strangers. That is the magic of film: the need to experience meaningful narratives unfolding on the screen. Combining virtually every definitive art form – music, literature, visual and performing arts – into one chimeric, cinematic experience is what film allows us to do. The roaring head-toss of the Metro Goldwyn Mayer lion, the flashing beams on the 24th Century Fox monument, the ripples that spread from the Dreamworks fishing-boy, the parabolic bounce of the Pixar lamp – these are all hallmarks of an experience that left you with something new, whether it’s a mass of sodden tissues, a surge of adrenaline, or a dread of the dark.
At Film Society, we allow you the opportunity to create your own stories. Every Wednesday, members gather to learn theoretical skills of filmmaking and explore different film genres, as well as try their own hand at shooting, editing and producing films. With teachers in charge Mr Chia Wei Hou and Ms Joanna Ng, the Film Society undertakes an unprecedented learning experience that takes them into the heart of the behind-the-scenes of every blockbuster and silver screen hit.
From hauling tripods, adjusting lighting and fiddling with multitudinous mike wires, you will be readily called upon to utilise the techniques and cinematography skills learnt in practical on-the-ground exercises, where both time and precision are of essence to achieve the perfect frame. Of course, the sessions will include film screenings, where the best of different directors and genres are curated to allow a wider interaction with the different nuances of visual storytelling: from Jay-Z music videos to Wong Kar-Wai’s Chungking Express.
Other than internal activities, members undertake opportunities to produce films in relation to the wider film community. Film Society works with CCAs, the student Council and the school administration to produce videos for events such as Open House, CCA Showcases and the Y6 Farewell Assembly. This teaches members to work together with multiple parties in pursuit of a shared vision, literally: from the pre-production process to the final edits. Members also test the waters of the film scene in nation-wide competitions as well as international competitions, such as the 48 Hour and Heritage Short Film Competitions.
All these activities build up to the final climax of a Film Soc member’s journey – the thesis film, where everything they have learned must be put to use to create their own original directorial conception. The members use the skills they have honed to produce and create their own stories. It is no easy task, involving vetting scripts again and again, location scouting, a precarious balancing act between shooting schedules and studies, as well as working together with other stakeholders, such as actors. Everything they have learnt will be put to the test, culminating in a showcase where the senior batch presents their films to an audience – the showings of their time as a Raffles Film Society member. Despite the harrowing difficulties and stringent standards, the end result of seeing your labour projected onto widescreen for all to see promises sweet fulfillment for the blood, sweat and tears.
Jerry Seinfeld said, once: “If I wanted a long, boring story with no point to it, I have my life.” Indeed, it is no easy task to extract, let alone saturate a narrative with the full richness of the human experience – joy, anger, sadness, fear, hope. But film is the form in which we tell the stories about who we are and what our societies represent – from the Hollywood blockbusters to the avant-garde, they shape our own personal narratives as well as offer a bridge that can sever national, class, economic and racial lines. At Film Society, we aim to embrace this art form fully as a team, to learn all we can and to create with a passion. After all, the lens is mightier than the sword.