To fresh beginnings, & chasing dreams

Five months have passed since I’ve written on my personal blog. The last time I wrote a blog post I was living in a basement in Washington DC on holiday with my then-boyfriend, and preparing to work on my very first film set.

A lot has changed in the last 5 months. Most importantly, this:

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i.e. I chopped off my locks & coloured whatever remained. Also horrible horrible tan lines. HAHAH. I kid. About the change. That was not the most important change. A lot of other more important things happened, so I haven’t had the time to sit down & properly write about all of that. It is heartening to know that people still read my blog and care about what I’m up to, and for that I am thankful. I thought I would return to my world of writing with stories of my chasing dreams. Haha. In a nutshell (with pictures because yay who doesn’t love pictures):

1. Finished conquering NYC with my lovely partner-in-crime Seemin

I never thought it would’ve been possible for us to reunite anywhere beyond Asia, let alone in NYC. This happened on a whim & I couldn’t think of a better way to conclude my exchange in NYC. People always find it hard to believe we only met 2 years ago, but finding this woman led me to discover things about myself & showed me a way to be successful doing what you like. @henn.drawn has become something of a household name & I’m so so happy for this one. Next stop: LA…?

2. Got to produce an advanced short film (that was set in WWII – super cool) while I was still in the United States

To be honest, I don’t know what came over me to volunteer myself for such an ambitious project considering I have never ever produced anything in my life. Being a film producer wasn’t even something I had considered doing. I also don’t know what my director Ryo was thinking, having someone with zero experience produce his film, but I’m glad he put his faith in me because this was quite an experience. Things that happened on set were not things classes at Tisch would have prepared me for, & I learnt so much over the course of 10 days.

It was 10 days of intermittent doses of torture, & a whole lot of stress, but amidst all the chaos there were some rewarding moments and if I could do it all over again I would. This was my first set, and this will always have a special place in my heart.

3. Took a leave of absence from school to do what I want to do in life

Nothing worth fighting for comes easy – this is something I’ve always lived by, so I figured it would be worthwhile if I took time off of school & dedicated it to do what I want to pursue in life. Coming back from NYC made me realise how much I enjoy filmmaking, & I now know for sure this is something I will continue to do.

4. Got to be a back model for the very first time thanks to Seemz!!!

A tad bit amused I’ve put this in my list of “cool things that have happened within the last 5 months” but I was so honoured to have been Seemz’s human canvas, & so happy this lady’s art continues to inspire so many.

A collaboration between NYX Cosmetics & Henn.Drawn:

Also because I really like this picture:

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5. Met up with long-lost friends

Always immensely thankful to catch up with friends who have stuck by me & seen me through my brace face / horrible bangs / bad hairdos / failed fashion – i.e. puberty.

6. Spent a month in Malaysia working as a producer & AD for a commercial (& i spent a week before that on a location scout around Malaysia)

Words cannot express how much i’ve learnt and grown over the course of the two months spent on this project. This will also have a special place in my heart because (1) it would be my first AD experience (for people who don’t know film – that’s short for Assistant Director), (2) it was shot in and around Malaysia – i.e. forbidden territory ’cause “not safe”, (3) i worked alongside lovely people for a month, (4) i’ve discovered my hidden language abilities – saya boleh cakap melayu sekarang. (ok i don’t really know if that was phrased right but i’ve realised i can somehow converse a little bit in melayu?! looking back, i think i picked it up from my ahmah, who was fluent in melayu & hokkien)

Doing this has pushed me so much & so far beyond my boundaries. It was 25 days of non-stop work. As with all kinds of work, it came with stress & problems & mistakes & people & sleepless nights & being yelled at & some tears, but at the end of the day, I truly enjoyed the month of madness. (My instagram feed only displays the fun/good side of filmmaking ok it is a curated gallery of beautiful pictures it does not reflect reality at all.)

I can go on & on about the production, but I’d rather not. Not here at least, so if you wanna hear stories meet with me in real life haha.

7. Worked with amazing talented passionate individuals who inspire me to want to be better at what I wanna do

Filmmaking is a collaborative project that is only possible with an entire kampung. The thing i really miss the most after we wrapped would be the people i got to work with. After all, we saw each other every single day for at least 15 hours a day so…

8. Explored new territories around Malaysia – like a whole lot

I never got the time to take pictures of all the locations we went to, but Malaysia is really beautiful. I will be returning to Penang end of the year to attend the cousin’s wedding, & I absolutely cannot wait to go to Jalan Pantai to have coconut ice cream & properly appreciate the crafts/performances/stalls.

Concluding my update with my faaave crew photo:

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first crew photo at Raaju’s Strawberry Farm, Cameron Highlands. so happy because we wrapped early that day hahaha

So #6, #7, & #8 are basically referring to the same production but we just wrapped over a week ago so I am still recovering from the withdrawal. What I’ve learnt over the course of the month is the importance of having grit, of being street smart and needing to work hard. Again, nothing worth fighting for comes easy so hard work is the minimum requirement to meet if we want to achieve anything. Grit is something I never thought about, but I realise being able to power through incredibly challenging times & not give up is super important. I chanced upon a TED Talk video & Angela Duckworth was delivering a speech about grit & how it influences how much a person accomplishes. It became something I thought about a lot & strived to do. Also interesting is this article that talks about the 5 characteristics of grit.

This opportunity has also shown me how important but underrated being street smart is. It is being situationally aware, being able to trust your gut feelings about people/other matters, thereby being able to deal with whatever problems that come your way. Producing on film sets is a lot about solving problems, & i’m so glad my parents in some way pushed me to broaden my horizons (for lack of better words) & gain experiences that would not have been available if I had just stayed in Singapore & just focused on my studies. I’m not saying being book smart is bad or unimportant, but being street smart is something so valuable especially if we want to make it in the working world. So go try something new, & exciting, & have fun beyond school!

Ok, but I am going back to school next year because I have not graduated. Haha. (@mother if you’re reading this, I am reassuring you that I will go back to school eventually & graduate.) So what’s next for me after such an exciting one-month abroad – WORK WORK WORK WERK WERK. I am going for an interview tomorrow, & if all goes well I will be working at a Korean restaurant basically to make money because I can’t fuel my dreams solely with passion. I need money to live. So in the day I work on my film things, & in the evenings/nights I work at the restaurant. Film wise, I have some projects lined up, & I am so excited to keep on doing what I love.

until next time, xoxo, weishi.

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final short film (at least for awhile)

After staying up one night while I’m supposedly on a holiday with the boyfriend, my final short film is completed!!!!!! This is my proudest creation to date, because it is a story I really wanted to tell and I could finally experiment with colour (although I have come to appreciate the beauty in B/W images) and sound. Thou shalt refrain from saying too much about the film before you watch it. Whoever you are, thank you for taking time to read this and watch the film. It would mean a lot to me if you’ll share with me your thoughts after watching this.

e n j o y:

I started working on this final project a lot earlier knowing I wanted to do something personal and meaningful. My friend’s death was something I never once forgot so I decided I would make a film about him. I had all these ideas but when I consulted my professor with my initial ideas, I realised I never knew much about him, nor had I kept in close contact with him after we went to different secondary schools so that made it difficult to make a film with a story. And being the ambitious person I am, the scenes I wanted to include in the film were difficult to shoot because (1) they were in NYC and (2) I wanted these scenes to be as close as possible to actual memories, so I ended up writing a film that was largely fiction. I wrote it based on my memories of him as a kind, high-spirited person, and I am so happy with the way it turned out even though this is entirely different from how I had envisioned it at the very beginning.

We shot this over three days in three locations – my apartment, the High Line and a random park place I found near NYU. The High Line was the worst location to shoot at because there were so many people and I couldn’t tell them to go away or ignore our presence. But I got lucky with the weather whenever I shot outdoors so I am thankful for the relatively smooth-sailing shoot. Jie Ying & Hakeem were such great actors to work with and they persevered even though stupid people started throwing things down the buildings beside the high line. The high line is basically a very long bridge surrounded by buildings, so people could throw things from these buildings and hit any of us. Urgh I should’ve mission impossible-d that building and smack the perpetrator with my FS100 camera body (without the lens ’cause the lens expensive).

The editing process was the toughest for me because I would get emotional and I wouldn’t be able to continue. @Jie Ying thank you for your support whenever I’m editing at home I couldn’t have done this without you!!! ❤

Feel free to lemme know what you think about the film I’d love to hear from you! I’m now in Washington D.C. touring the country a little bit before I head back to NYC. A week until I have to ditch the boyfriend (미안해요 바보아) and go on set for a week in Pennsylvania, and then See Min comes~

Until next time, xoxo, gweishi.