At Tanglin, Year 12 and 13 IB and A Level students participate in the school's Creativity, Activity and Service (CAS) programme. CAS provides opportunities for independently managed, experiential learning beyond the classroom.
One such project, was the Elements of Yunnan Film Premiere, where 16 film and non-film studies students conceived and produced a short documentary film exploring the landscapes and people of the Yunnan Province, China.
During Term 2 the group met at lunchtimes to research the area and its varied cultures and to begin storyboarding ideas for the film.
Krista Magee, Tanglin's Film and Media technician who has extensive experience in the Film and Media industry, organised and facilitated the various production aspects involved in the programme. In collaboration with outdoor adventure provider, Asia Pacific Adventure (APA) students and staff travelled with Yunnan for a week in July 2018. APA founder, Stuart Sharpless, also specialises in drone cinematography. Together, both Krista and Stuart were able to facilitate the students' ideas and development of their film footage acting as executive producers.
Filming took place from dawn till dusk as the group immersed themselves in the culture, visiting ancient towns, forests and one of the deepest gorges in the world, and interacting with Yunnan's ethnic minorities.
On their return, the students used the school's state-of-the-art film facilities to produce a high-quality cinematic documentary. The film creates a sense of peace and tranquility, focusing on the sounds of the vast and beautiful landscape interspersed with close-ups of peoples' daily lives and relationships.
After six months of planning and producing the film, the students were delighted to invite members of the school community to their premiere at independent cinema, The Projector. Thank you to the TTS Foundation for supporting this event.
Below, two students, Maddy and Viktoriia, share their experience of this CAS project.
I am currently taking film as an HL IB subject. Through this CAS project, I hoped to gain first-hand experience of a full crew film set and develop new filmmaking skills, which would aid me in deciding my university course.
We had sessions on the first day of the trip that taught all of us how to use the different film equipment, and so those with no prior experience were able to learn how to handle the equipment.
I enjoyed the freedom we were granted during the production process. As the Director, I was responsible for a large amount of the creative process which ran throughout pre-production, production, and post-production. Our group was given complete artistic license as to what message we wanted the film to portray, the narrative, and the final shots that made it into the film. I enjoyed the creative process of storyboarding and cinematography, as I was responsible for what our team would film whilst on set, which enhanced the experience as we feel that the final film is a true reflection of our experience.
Our filming method was fairly similar to a guerrilla filmmaking style, as it wasn't uncommon for us to show up to a location with very little pre-production planning and improvise what we felt would work well with our short documentary. This led to a large amount of footage being shot, which was time-consuming to watch and assess during post-production. However, this allowed me to develop skills in adaptivity and improvisation.
I was extremely excited for the premiere as we were finally able to share our experience and what we had been working on, and I feel that it was a complete success. I was a host for the evening, and I really enjoyed being able to answer any questions the audience had
I learned so many new skills throughout this experience, including practical film skills and logistical planning. However, I feel that one of the most important things I learned was the importance of teamwork, collaboration, and flexibility to produce something we are all proud of. I also learned a lot about the diverse culture of China and broadened my perspective on the different tribes and native cultures that exist in Yunnan. Moreover, I feel that I have learned the importance of preserving different cultures and traditions in our constantly developing world, which provides me with a culturally diverse viewpoint on different subjects.
Viktoriia, Director of Photography
Despite being completely new to me, I chose film as a subject for IB. Since then, I have developed a great interest both in filming and photography. I also study Chinese and have always been interested in Chinese culture. Yunnan was a trip that allowed me to pursue both my artistic and cultural interests.
I really enjoyed working outside of a classroom setting and exploring the world beyond Singapore. It was a one-time opportunity to utilise my prior film knowledge and with joint effort create a final piece that combined everyone's ideas and visions.
While the production period was definitely both physically and mentally demanding, the post-production process of putting together tons of footage was equally challenging.
I have learnt to work together with people of different skill sets and experiences. Adjusting to everyone's capabilities improved our teamwork throughout the trip. I have also learned a great deal about filmmaking – both technically and artistically, and I was able to see a side of China that I had never seen before. The memories of the food, people, singing, dancing and the beautiful sceneries will stay with me forever.