In January last year I took a long intended trip to visit a friend and fellow filmmaker in Western Australia. On my way back I stopped off in Malaysia and was met at the airport in the dead of night by my good friend Martin Chong and his wife Moon. Although we had kept in touch via facebook I had not seen him since he had graduated from the Northern Media School in 2004. Below is his account of our time together.
“Which sequence can be removed?” She asked.
It was year 2004, the first class I attended in Sheffield Hallam University, Jan Worth taught script writing for the MA course of Digital Media and Film Production.
Expecting to learn story development constructively, her destructive question caught me off guard after a short film showing: The English Sheep, not on pasture but flocking in to a flat, a girl wearing Maoist uniform, The Far Eastern face with hidden uncertainty; all images flashed back and forth, we were no more audiences, but started to take scenes in and out of context, as we did a year later in editing suite, as years and years later in film and media industry.
It was a great experience for 1st day class: Scenes been removed, not only the story survives; it becomes better.
Time slips, in 2013 Jan attended a screening of her film, and also conducted a script-writing workshop in a university in Australia.
I met her again at a former British colony, a humid peninsula, and a highway knitted city where high-rise buildings randomly sprouted.
We escaped to the old town, the conversation varied from Korean new wave Cinema to PhD proposal. The joy of reunion complemented by Nyonya food, Japanese rice wine. Inevitably, it fell back to storytelling like a boomerang.
“Can the story be removed?” I asked.
It was an unintended question; I can’t remember how we reached there.
“Yes, but the characters stay.” Jan said.
Jan started to describe the characters around us; the different colour faces from east to west.
For storytelling, I always believe less is more; save the best and remove the irrelevant. When the backbone is removed, elements keep adding in like pieces of jigsaw out of law.
Or that might be the disillusion of the combination of Singaporean lager, Chinese tea, American cigarette and chewing gum; under the punishing heat and neon lights, resonated with Korean Pop Music and street cries, promoting exotic replica goods shipped in from China. It is Chinatown.
Jan, we have to talk about storytelling.
- MA of Digital Media and Film Production, Sheffield Hallam University, U.K,
- Director Timemute Films.
- Senior Lecturer of The Design School, Taylors University, Malaysia