Arts Film Preview Singapore

NYFA 2018: Open To Any and All Aspiring Youth Filmmakers


Started four years ago in 2015, by now, *SCAPE’s annual National Youth Film Awards (NYFA) have become an established ceremony in Singapore to recognise the very best youths working in film today, be it as a director or production designer. But where previous years have only allowed students at institutes of higher learning to participate, 2018 marks the first time the team is opening up entries to nominate anyone between the ages of 15-35!

For those not quite in the know or not too sure if they should take part in NYFA 2018, we’re here to tell you all about what it entails and why if you’re sitting on the fence, you absolutely should submit an entry for the awards. We spoke to Lingual Tan, Manager for Programmes (Media) at *SCAPE, to find out more about how NYFA has changed over the years.

Lingual may only have joined the *SCAPE team this year, but has plenty of experience under her belt, having previously worked as a producer for Mocha Chai Laboratories and with FLY Entertainment. In speaking to her, we find out that NYFA was first started as part of *SCAPEmedia’s efforts to continue nurturing and developing youth talents. Besides the awards themselves, NYFA heralds the arrival of plenty of peripheral programmes, including workshops, masterclasses, screenings, and dialogue sessions with professionals.

NYFA isn’t just a ceremony for appreciation though, it’s a platform that’s fully intended to train youths to enter the industry, levelling them up and bringing them to the attention of potential employers, which is the ultimate endgame of NYFA. Says Lingual: “Everybody wants to be a director, but there’s always a need for people like the editors and colourists. We’re breeding a new wave of filmmakers to enter the industry, and we want to develop real job opportunities for our participants and show the industry the quality works they’re producing. NYFA acts as a launchpad to propel its participants forward to become the next generation of filmmakers.”

Still from That Girl In Pinafore

Lingual continues: “I think we can all agree that a director can never claim full credit for a film. But sometimes the only recognition some of these team members get is when the credits are rolling, when everyone is walking out of the cinema. Chai Yee Wei’s assembly cut of That Girl In Pinafore was 3 hours long, and with his editor, Natalie, they toiled for several months and eventually came up with the final cut of 1hr 45mins. Chai remarked he couldn’t have done this on this own without Natalie’s objective take on the film. NYFA is here to recognise individual people and open up more career paths. What we do is groom and bridge various people to the industry – the middleman who hears from both the youth and the industry to figure out what’s in demand, and supply that to both sides.” As a lead up to the award ceremony, *SCAPE will be holding a two-day conference on the 11th & 12th of May for those interested in learning about filmmaking. Register for tickets here.

NYFA has only been gaining traction over the years: In this edition, the stakes are higher than ever, with the addition of online video streaming platform HOOQ to partner up and stream selected nominees’ films in a dedicated section of the site, reaching countries as far as Thailand and the Philippines as part of their services. Says Mr Adrian Teo, Singapore Country Manager of HOOQ: “We are very excited to be partnering with NYFA and to give young Singaporean filmmakers a bigger stage to showcase their works. It will be the first time that winning films from 2018 and the preceding 3 years will be made available for viewers here in Singapore, but more importantly, we would like to bring more Singapore-made films into the region to showcase the talent from our little island.”

a-movie-still-from-the-best-picture-winning-short-film-changi 2017
Still from Changi, Best Picture at NYFA 2017

Past NYFA alumni have even gone on to work on commissioned video projects with international companies like Sony, Blackmagic Design and HBO, or set up their own studio, while the UK’s prestigious National Film and Television School currently has three NYFA alumni enrolled, out of an average of two to three accepted international students per year.

But the biggest change NYFA is experiencing this year is the addition of the Open Youth Category, creating the opportunity for non-students under the age of 35 to enter films into NYFA, including past NYFA participants no longer schooling.

A scene from PAPER ROOF one of the Best Direction Award nominees
Still from Paper Roof, Best Camera Work, Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing, NYFA 2017

Even if the film’s director is over the age limit, if a member of the cast or crew is under 35, the film may still be submitted to showcase the skill and good work those members have put into it, ultimately acting not so much as a competition but a way to recognise the spectrum of work that goes into making a single film. And compared to other local film competitions, NYFA is truly a free-for-all arena, with few limits not restricted by theme or duration. Says Lingual: “Each year, our reach has been growing, like how last year was the first time we opened up the entries to students who weren’t in media schools. Production values have also been on the rise, and there’ve been plenty of interesting social topics and concepts we’ve seen. You know how films like Mama and Lights Out were based off shorts? A lot of the films we’ve received have so much potential, and it’s a big reason why HOOQ has decided they’re worthy to showcase alongside their Hollywood blockbusters.”

“Ultimately, NYFA’s primary role is to act as validation for all nominees, and to give them that first boost of confidence. I was speaking to Chai (Yee Wei) the other day and he said something that really resonated with me: ‘The need to make films, long or short, is just another way humans express themselves. Like writing poetry and books, storytelling is in our DNA.’ If you’re unsure whether to submit a film to NYFA or not, then listen to the voice inside you that’s telling you to go for it, and just do it!”

NYFA is organised by *SCAPE and supported by National Youth Council and Sinema. Submissions to NYFA 2018 are open from now till 18 May 2018. Register now!

As a lead up to the award ceremony, *SCAPE will be holding a two-day conference on the 11th & 12th May, sign up available here ($5 refundable deposit is applicable for each session sign-up)

For more information, visit the website here.

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