It was a dark and stormy night and the rain fell in torrents, and it is here that our story begins. Well, okay. It wasn’t nighttime. It wasn’t even night – or stormy – or torrentially rainy. Not even a little bit of rain. It was a swelteringly hot day, although you wouldn’t know it seated in the back rows of F208, a moderately sized but utterly freezing screening room that has now become iconic to my years in The Puttnam School of Film. And all around me, an odd circus of people were filtering in, hawk-eyeing their surroundings and awkwardly trying to figure out where was the least awkward place to park their bums. In the first row, I even spotted an afro-like haircut on a Chinese-looking boy. “How does that hat even stay on his head?”, I wondered. Gosh, these people were weird, and by the time introductions had begun, and one guy had professed his undying love for cats, I was even more convinced of that. Now, three years on from that day, and reflecting on the countless nights of blood, sweat and tears producing a plethora of different films together… I can most definitely say that these people are very, very, very, weird, and the proof is in this year’s LASALLE Convocation DVDs (where a bunch of us decided to join in the slated dance performance, hat, gown et al).
We literally revel in our weirdness, and I couldn’t be prouder. We have breathed it, challenged it, grown with it, made films about it, and most of all, we have come to terms with it. Through our years together, editing in the wee hours of the night together with countless cans of Redbull lying around, to 4 AM call-times to shoot the rising sun and planning crazy ideas to shoot, these three years have been an intense roller-coaster littered with many adventures. Trekking through jungle to find an obscure, abandoned mansion to shoot in, visiting Mustaffa centre in the dead hours to hunt for props, playing real-life Tetris with the equipment at the back of a truck, getting rained on, muddied, then sunburnt (sometimes within one day of shoot) in the name of getting that one scene just right…these have all been some of things that we have gone through as a batch, and through these experiences, we have laughed, cried, yelled at each other, broken down, and celebrated with each other.
We have weathered a lot in our time together, seeing both the best and worst sides of each other. Someone once told me that showing your film to your audience is like standing naked in front of a whole crowd of people staring at you. While I am not suggesting that we have literally done that as a batch, we have shown each other our vulnerabilities, and as different as all of us were, we accepted each other. Were we the most harmonious batch? No. We are a weird bunch of people that celebrated each other’s differences. We were proud to be different, and through our differences, we have grown together, showing each other the value of looking at things through another person’s eyes, and that is the one thing that I have valued the most during my time at the Puttnam School of Film.
Now, as I look through the many photos of us adjusting each other’s hats and sashes at our Convocation day, throwing the gold paper-planes at the sky (and at each other) smiling and hugging and laughing, does it really hit me: it’s over. Our time as a batch has come to an end, and I am no longer bound to this particular bunch of people. Now, we have parted ways, ridden off into a confetti-strewn sunset, embarking on other journeys, crafting out separate careers. There will not be a need to give each other wake up calls before class, or even see each other most of the time. From awkward strangers three years ago, now I face the reality of missing them. The end of my years at an educational institute has started and finally, ended with them. For better or for worse, these strangers have influenced, and changed me, and through this epic journey that we have shared together, they have now become a part of me, too.
But all that blood, sweat and tears, has it really come to an end? No amount of words can truly describe my experiences during the Puttnam School of Film, and Convocation, the symbolism of our hard-earned success as a batch, with its parade of gowns and hand shaking with important persons, did not really feel like an ending. How can you put three years of memories into one video taped ceremony? The truth is, you don’t. And while it may the end of our lectures at F208, convocation does not mark the end of our time together. These three years have seen strangers turn into the closest conspirators. So here’s to seeing all of you at the next pre-production meeting.
Victoria Stephanie Tay is a recent graduate from the class of 2013. She now works as a Junior Producer at Sixtoes/TBWA.