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Impact 0212: A day in the life of a young film director

Alistair Quak · 30 September 2021
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Alistair Quak is a film director whose work spans an array of genres. With years in the film industry, he strives to push the boundaries of storytelling with his visceral cinematic style. His works have been featured at Cannes Film Festival and the National Youth Film Awards among other platforms. 

This year, he was selected from thousands of applicants from Southeast Asia for the HOOQ Filmmakers Guild 2020, to develop “PROGRESS”, an action sci-fi web pilot.

8:00 am

After my fifth alarm, I am finally roused from my slumber. I see on my phone’s Notepad app what I’ve written the night before: “Go for a run.” 

I set another alarm for 10am and fall back asleep.

10:00 am

I’m awake for real this time. I get up, just in time for a work meeting. I quickly set up my laptop and try my best to pretend that I’ve been awake for the past hour. It’s typical HR stuff, so my mind wanders. 

I admire the poster of “Reservoir Dogs” I have on my wall, and that’s when an idea hits me. I quickly open my Notepad app and record it under the segment of “Film Idea Bank”, along with hundreds of my other ridiculous ideas. Man starts a burger chain only to realise the industry is run like a mafia operation.

Sounds good enough. Back to the meeting.

12:00 pm

Lunch. Since work-from-home culture started, I’ve been having lunch with my family a lot more. My brother recounts a boxing class he attended the night before. 

My day sounds mundane, but filmmaking isn’t always about making films because funding is tough to come by (especially for the type of films I try to make). On a typical day, it’s just me at my job as a video editor, trying to get through life as I look for ways to get funding.

2:00 pm

It’s back to editing work. Honestly, video editing is great, even though my passion is for writing and directing. I personally feel that it does help hone my sense of storytelling. 

When I’m working on a personal project, I try to make films that are more action or horror oriented. And as much as I believe there should always be some sort of message interlaced with the stories I tell, I think that it should be entertaining first and foremost.

5:00 pm

Wow, time goes by quickly. I send out my edit for review and chill for the rest of the day. Feedback typically only comes in the next day, so I have time to reflect and look through my Notepad app. Of course, sometimes, I just take a nap.

6:30 pm

I wake up from my second nap, just in time for dinner. I usually zone out amid the dinner conversation, thinking about my latest film ideas. That one on the hamburger gangsters definitely needs more work. 

9:00 pm

I’m usually playing video games or just watching YouTube videos at this point of time. I immerse myself in things that help me forget about real world problems, even if it’s just for a little while. I personally feel that dissociating momentarily helps me cope and deal with the mental load of life better.

That’s actually why I make films for people. Films help people forget about their problems for that short span of time. Total strangers have reached out to tell me that they appreciated the content I’ve produced, that my films gave them a moment to forget their worries and be immersed instead in a world that is not their own. 

10:30 pm

I force myself to go for that run.

12:00 am

I lie in bed and think about my film ideas one last time – I think I know how to make the hamburger mafia story make sense. I scribble down my notes, and am satisfied. Time for bed.

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