DURING the 2015 Next New Wave workshop, young aspiring filmmakers were issued a challenge – to create a short film within a week.
But there was a catch. Each team was given the same short piece of dialogue, but had the freedom to interpret it however they wanted.
Today, the four very different short films are premiering on the Next New Wave YouTube channel.
The themes include life after death, the awkward “morning after”, a robbery and politics – all based on the same dialogue.
The challenge was set by Aditya Assarat, an award-winning Thai film director, screenwriter, producer and cinematographer who was a Next New Wave mentor last year.
“I did it to show them that directing is a matter of personal style,” said Aditya.
The participants’ personal styles and ideas definitely shone through in their films.
In the Waiting Room, for example, two men sit in a dark office, gunshot wounds on their bodies. They’re having a conversation, but it’s clear they’re actually dead.
“The dialogue gave me a sense of being other-worldly and that’s what I worked with.
“I have always been interested in discussing the idea of death and the different interpretations we all have of it,” said Sharifah Aleysha, 23, the scriptwriter of Waiting Room.
She said the exercise of creating a film and having a mentor allowed participants to have a more hands-on learning experience.
“Our mentors encouraged us to have creative freedom, but also helped shape our ideas to fit our budgets and the time-frame,” she added. “It was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had.”
Mario Koo, writer and director of Broken Source, a tense short film set in a bar, said it was a challenge keeping up with the more experienced participants, but he was happy to be able to learn from them.
“I learnt that a director must have a clear intention and explanation for everything in the story.
“If you can’t provide a good answer to your team when asked about anything related to the plot, you’re not doing your job,” said Koo, 21, a media student in Singapore.
For film producer Edward Lim, 25, the sparse dialogue given by Aditya really tested his creativity.
“At first it felt like a restriction, but as the workshop progressed I felt it actually helped control the length and the scale (of the film),” he said.
His team produced The Heist, a thriller about an uneasy partnership between two robbers.
At the beginning of the workshop, it might have seemed an almost impossible task – producing a unique short film using “generic” dialogue – but all the teams succeeded.
“To bring out different ways of looking at the same script – that is directing in a nutshell,” said Aditya.
Watch the short films above or at Next New Wave’s YouTube channel: youtube.com/nextnewwave.
Find out how you can apply for the 2016 Next New Wave filmmaking workshop at facebook.com/nextnewwave. Deadline for applications is Aug 7.