Today I find myself, with a decent overpriced cup of iced black, seated by the glass window at a coffee place near my house - these kinds of seats are my favourite especially when I'm alone. I love watching teenage drama unfold before me. On today's episode: a young lady in her school uniform has just stomped off and her lover in the same uniform goes after her. Five steps, maybe six. He catches her by the arm easily. They stop and exchange words. I couldn't see her face from where I sat, but I saw his. She looks up at him, he says something. He smiles. Then they walk away together holding hands. Ah, young love. Cute, naive and foolishly abiding.
I see two little boys trying to play outside while an older woman I presume is their mother tries to stop them. It has started to pour outside. For a while I was taken back to 2011 when I spent an entire afternoon playing in the rain with my best friend after school. We were 15 but we knew how to have fun. I think that was the last time I played in the rain.
It's already 2019; this time last year I was getting ready to head back to school after a one-year hiatus. I thought it would be easier this time but circumstances are different - all my batchmates have graduated and moved on to "the next stage of life" so I'll be going back to school alone. It's a little bit daunting, but I am excited.
Before my recent birthday post, I was coping with life post-Chicken Up - I had left because the job became too comfortable and I wanted to challenge myself. W̶h̶a̶t̶ ̶a̶ ̶m̶a̶s̶o̶c̶h̶i̶s̶t̶. What I wasn't prepared for - and sometimes still feel a little bit sad about - was leaving behind my ex-colleagues-turned-friends. Though we tried to keep in touch, everyone gets busy and it's different. Even when I had finished my internship at Vicinity (it was only three months), I grew to miss the people in the office.
I am now working part-time at a new restaurant - funnily enough I ended up literally across the road from Chicken Up, and it is proving to be challenging because it's a little bit more atas so they are stricter about dress codes and service. It's been pretty challenging/stressful/exciting. A lot of things have happened since July last year (when I started my leave of absence from school again) and I thought I'd pen those down listicle-style as 2019 begins.
1. Back to Production
A huge part of why I wanted to take a leave from school was to gain more experience in the production industry in Singapore, so I set out looking for a smaller-scale production house and found Vicinity Studio. I interned for three months and I learnt so much it's insane. While I had hoped to be on creative projects a lot more, we were working on a lot more corporate/commercial shoots which led me to realise perhaps it was unwise to believe the possibility of working solely on film.
I've also confirmed: I am not a fan of editing. I suspected this earlier, since I've filmed a lot of things while I was abroad the last two years but never got around to editing them (neither have I finished the vlog I was working on at my last week of the internship haha oops). Skills/knowledge aside, I think what was most fulfilling for me was meeting these people:
They were all extremely talented, driven (on some days) and they all inspired me in some way. It's different working in an environment where everyone was young, full of potential and not quite jaded. Sure, they sometimes reminded me of how old I was and how little I've accomplished, but mostly they reminded me of why I do what I do and why I enjoy video productions.
After the internship, I had the opportunity to line produce for a music video in KL with my director/friend Bella who, by the way, directed this beautiful MV that was recently released. This project was a breath of fresh air for me, especially after not working on creative sets for a while. It was like magic: having so many talented people come together within such a short time to work on something I know will be beautiful.
More behind-the-scenes photos shot on the Nikon F3 here!
2. Perth/Ipoh with the fambam
Our last family trip was to the US when I was headed there for my exchange early 2017, so going to Perth was a nice holiday for all of us (circa Aug 2018). We scored ourselves a really cozy airbnb apartment in Perth - which became very important because nothing much happens in Perth after 8pm. We went without much of a plan, but we managed to cover most touristy things - the Lancelin Sand Dunes, the wineries, the Pinnacles Desert, Fremantle Market and the Caversham Wildlife Park. I was obsessed with the skies at Perth (you'll see why below).
While we enjoyed the nature and the weather, there really wasn't much to do and we met with a series of unfortunate events that were enough to deter me from returning to Perth. Basically we got stopped over by the police because we were going beyond the speed limit and then fined even more money when my sister and I were caught not having seatbelts on in the backseat. Ok, that was maybe a little bit of our fault and a whole lot of bad luck. We paid the fine at a post office - yay to new experiences...
On our last day at Perth after my sister and I had returned the rental car (our parents had left earlier), we were charged AUD1.1k. WTF. That's like SGD 1k. Apparently there was a chip in the windscreen which they blamed on us, and charged the amount straight to our dad's credit card. Thank goodness my sister and I chose to hang out a little bit at a coffee shop before checking in at the airport, so we could still make a trip to the rental office and look at the "damage" ourselves. I'm glad we walked back, because the size of the chip was literally less than the size of a fingernail and the lady claimed the entire windscreen had to be replaced because the chip was at the side of the driver's seat.
We took some photos and filed a protest. Needless to say, we were refunded 900 bucks, which beats having to pay 1k. Some things I've learnt from this incident, especially for those renting a car for the first time:
As much as possible, don't rent a car from a third party website unless you're sure it's reputable; My dad rented ours on rentalcars.com and they weren't very responsive (neither did they bother to respond to my email at all and we just found the money refunded to the bank account. Great, we got our money back but it just wasn't professional at all.)
Make sure to check the car thoroughly with a staff member present (this would've prevented the entire incident if my sister and I knew to insist they check the car with us. Alamo was the car rental company we got the car from - they didn't have a very good SOP because nobody checked the car with us upon rental nor did anyone do that upon return. I really wouldn't recommend Alamo. My sister and I had already noticed the chip when we got the car at the airport, but we trusted the staff who had checked the car and carried on with the trip. That was our mistake.)
This entire process to get our money back took about a month. So I don't foresee a return to Perth (or any part of Australia for that matter) any time soon even though the skies/stars are really beautiful.
Our recent short trip to Ipoh was more chill, funner. It was our first time even though our relatives lived there. We finished doing all the touristy things within our first day, so the family basically hung out together a lot and I liked that. It was a nice respite from the busy city life. My sister and I hang out a lot these days, but it was a new experience singing with my parents in the karaoke room. I was shookt they could both sing pretty well. Ipoh is a great place to chill with the family, although I think 1-2 full days would have been enough to explore the place.
3. Time with loved ones
Spending time with family and friends has become very precious to me, especially with everyone growing up/old and getting busy. The second half of 2018 brought a lot of surprises: some friendships were rekindled after years. I got to meet with people from my JC days and my JLR internship days. It was heartwarming seeing everyone still the same but grown up.
2018 was really the year it felt like everyone kind of grew up. Most of my friends had graduated and were working. Some had gotten married, some had children. Things like building a family or saving money became commonplace conversation topics. It was all very strange and scary. For me anyway. Knowing that these loved ones took a break from their busy schedules/responsibilities/life to have a conversation with me made the time spent together even more valuable.
4. My friends graduate!
Seeing my friends leave university and enter the next phase of their lives was such a surreal feeling. Honestly, a part of me felt sad/regretful for not completing my studies "on time" so we'd enter the workforce together. Also I'll be alone next semester. Then I remind myself everyone marches to the beat of his/her own drum. I partook in the whole graduation fanfare - buying cheeky balloons and flowers waiting in the hall to take pictures. It was all so exciting~
5. Opportunities here, there
These couple of months also offered me more opportunities in front of the camera and I've come to realise I actually enjoy modelling and acting. I used to be very insecure in front of the camera (and it showed - my skin around my neck area would turn red) but I've gotten better with time/practice. Especially with acting, I found it exciting/challenging/exhilarating bringing a character from script to life. I was very thankful my friend Hao Yu who directed and wrote this film gave me this opportunity. These were some of my favourite stills from the film:
This was by far the most challenging and fulfilling role I had taken up. I played a girl who secretly sells her body to make ends meet at home.
Director/scriptwriter: Khor Hao Yu,
Executive Producer: Jeslyn Ang
Assistant Director/DP/Sound Designer/Editor: Chua Ka Sin
Gaffer: Troy Tay
Boom Op: Hoi Bing & James
Production Design: Loy Ting Yi Faye
SFX Makeup: Hazel Ho Heng Yee
This experience was a different way of being creative and I loved every moment of it. The crew was a huge part of why I could play the character as best as I could in my capacity - they were respectful and very professional.
These were some other things I was up to:
KMS Singapore X D'Sire Hair
Hair by Ted Ng @ D'Sire Hair,
Photographed by Micky Wong @ New Storyboards,
Styled by Evon Chng,
Makeup by Benji Oo.
P.S. I've been going to Ted for 3 years and counting so if you're looking for a hair change before CNY, now's the time to make an appointment~
Photographed, styled and hair by Mazri Ismail,
OBSCR x Isabella Tan
with Ng See Min.
Photographed by Isabella Tan.
Apparel from OBSCR.
So that ended off on a somewhat narcissistic note. 2018 has come and gone. A lot of doors were opened. Something I've learnt over the year is this -
Most doors aren't worth going through, even when the handle seems to turn so effortlessly.
I've learnt to say no, which was something I've struggled with and my body paid the price. Health was something I began to care more about as I aged (this might sound funny 'cause I'm only 23, but I'm already feeling the effects of growing old). I kept in touch with people I love and who matter. I worked on things I'm passionate about as much as I could. Will 2019 be vastly different? I don't think so. It'll be better than the last, I hope. Bringing forward some reminders I wrote for myself in 2018:
Be a better version of yourself everyday.
It’s ok to not know.
People come, & people go. Treasure those who stay, & let go of those who don’t.
Give without expectations. Be kind.
First thing I'm doing this 2019: learn a new language.
2019 is going to be an exciting!! I hope the new year brings you joy, love, happiness, excitement, challenges and good health!