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​AHA Film Fest 2017

Published on: 01-Nov-2017

Weekids create short films about heritage buildings
By Hannah Tay and Debbie Ng

The Architectural Heritage Awards (AHA) Short Film Fest is a yearly event that premieres the works of WKWSCI students to the public. The event is a partnership between the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Singapore (URA) and WKWSCI, through which students under the CS2025 Image and Sound Production module create short documentaries about heritage buildings that demonstrate exemplary heritage building conservation and restoration.

Creating the films was no easy feat. Apart from the pre-production planning, scripting, shooting and editing, there were many challenges such as securing interviewees and finding a strong angle to the story. Many of the interviewees did not speak English, posing language and communication barriers. The presence of many visitors to our chosen building, Wanderlust Hotel, also meant that we were often unable to explore the hotel and all the rooms in their entirety.

With only a few weeks to create the film, we were tight on time, and spent many days in the editing room piecing our project together. Thankfully financial worries were alleviated as we received a $250 grant from URA as seed money to help with the production, like travelling to locations or food for our group.

Nonetheless, the production process was memorable. We had an amazing opportunity to meet the people behind the former and current building. Through their insights and experiences, we learnt more about the building than we could have by just visiting it, and came to realise the impact a building could have on a person.

It was also fascinating to imagine how the building used to look through their stories. With this mental image, we then pieced together what we felt would best represent the building and the people connected with it, trying our best to always keep a balanced viewpoint.

Crafting the story was more emotional than we imagined. Anger, happiness, disappointment – these were some of the emotions our interviewees had as they shared their memories of Wanderlust Hotel and the former Hong Wen School. As we listened, our sentiments started to echo theirs; we felt these emotions more intensely than we ever expected to.

26 September 2017 was the day of the AHA Short Film Fest. The opportunity to watch our films on the big screen was one that will not be forgotten. It is not everyday that we get to see our creation in a cinema with a full-house audience.

It was an incredibly emotional feeling watching our documentaries on the big screen. As the last group in the line-up of 11 films, we waited in eager anticipation, continually turning to each other for reassurance as we felt a mixture of both excitement and nervousness.

When we saw the opening shot of our film on the big screen, we could not help but stare in awe. However, with all the excitement also came the jitters about how the audience would react to our film, as every mistake is amplified. The buzz of critique that followed each documentary, only added to the nerves.

After the screening, we had a panel session where the directors shared their thought processes while creating the short film, as well as answer any queries from the audience.

We hope that through our films others will also share the emotions that we all experienced. After all if we do not tell the stories of the past generations, who will?

Panel session at the AHA Short Film Fest 2017, where the directors shared more about their films and fielded questions from the audience

CS2025 students at the AHA Short Film Fest 2017 screening with URA Executive Architect, Conservation Management, Lee Yan Chang (last row, fifth from left) and WKWSCI’s Dr Kym Campbell (second row, fifth from left).

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