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Impact 0493: Local award-winning film director wants to make films for good

Ang Geck Geck Priscilla · 26 March 2022
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Ang Geck Geck Priscilla, 34, has worked with agencies such as BBH, BBDO, Grey, and McCann for regional interstitials. Beyond her achievements in the advertising world, Broken Crayon (2013), her debut short film, was awarded the Best Short film at the Singapore Short film Festival 2013 and has travelled to Hong Kong, Thailand and the UK. Recognised by The Straits Times as one of Singapore’s rising stars under 30, she is currently working toward her first feature, Ah Girl, which won the Open SEA Fund Award at the Southeast Asia Fiction Film Lab in 2018. 

Most recently, her debut short film series, Another Day in Paradise, received much praise and has been nominated at the T.O. Webfest 2021 (Multi-Day Web Series Festival), 23rd Seoul International Women’s Film Festival 2021, and Series Mania 2021. Her work is driven by the desire to give a voice to the weak and she believes a good film can touch the lives of many and make the world a better place to live in. Today she shares more about her passions.

Tell us more about what you do!

I direct commercials for a living. I also write and direct films ranging from shorts,  online series. Hopefully the next one I do will be a feature!

What inspired you to do this?

I didn’t know what to do at the start. When I was younger, I wanted to provide a better life for my grandparents. So, I started working at the young age of 13. I was doing many odd jobs – going door-to-door selling ice cream, doing sales at Isetan, whipping up coffee sets in the morning at a kopitiam, and even giving tuition. I knew I had a flair for sales when I was younger.  

But I’ve always had a passion for drawing and painting. I enrolled in Nanyang Technological University of Singapore (NTU)’s School of Art Design and Media (ADM). When it was time to choose our major, I initially had no idea what I wanted to do. After weighing out all the options available for me, film was the only choice that I considered.  

In saying that, I was still lost when I was in film school. My peers were way ahead of me because they had a film diploma. I didn’t really get to direct much in school and ended up being thrown into roles like make up, wardrobe and producing.  

One day my professor allowed us to work individually to make our own film and that seemed to work pretty well for me. I say that because most of my assignments in school required me to work in a group, and to be honest, I wasn’t in school much because I had to continue working to pay off my school fees. Hence, working in a group was tougher than solo work.  

For that solo assignment, I wrote and directed a short film. The funny thing was I didn’t know what the “standard” of a good film was back then because I had no prior experience. To my surprise, that film was well received by both my peers and professors. From there, I felt extremely motivated to start making films that touch on more sensitive taboos and topics so as to start conversations and create awareness. At that moment, I felt like I had found my calling.

Have you faced any challenges so far? And how did you overcome them?

In our line, we always face rejections. Sometimes, it is really hard to accept, especially if you thought that everything was going well so far. I guess it is harder when you know that you worked sooooo hard for it and yet you can’t do anything about the rejection.

You just have to learn how to let go and move on. Over time, I learnt to not have any deep-rooted attachment. It is a form of suffering!  

The toughest part about making a film is having to raise funds. Throughout my life, I think I have spent most of my savings making my own films. When I graduated from NTU, I had cup noodles every day so that I could raise enough money to make my films and build my portfolio.

If you could share one piece of advice with your fellow youth, what would it be?

If you don’t suffer, you are not doing enough. Be brave.

What are your hopes or plans for the future? What do you want to see or perhaps do?

This is a tough question. As cliche as it sounds, I always hope my films can help to make the world a better place.  I feel that overall, the film industry is still lacking a lot of talents and opportunities. Even though IMDA is making an effort to resolve that, it will take at least a decade to see changes or adjustment. I hope with more Singaporeans supporting the local scene, it will act as a catalyst, to speed up the process for the industry to grow brighter.  

For myself, currently, I am co-writing and pitching a few series. At the same time, I am working on my first feature, Ah Girl. I hope one day I can expand beyond Singapore and push my films to other countries.

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