Scene City Singapore: TV series

In May and June 2009 we went into production for a series on digital photography for Channel News Asia, in Singapore. I partnered with production company Originasian run by Randy Ang, with executive producer Lionel Chok.

It had taken Lionel a year of gentle prodding, then we forced the issue by saying we’d fly to Singapore specially to seal the deal. We met the commissioners over – Singapore veterans will have guessed it, some food  – and they must have taken to me, for soon after we got to haggling over budgets. But that’s how it goes; soon after we got the commission.

It was huge fun. As I wrote the script, I had to learn lots about Singapore very quickly. (God bless Google, Yahoo! and Bing.) The script took us to unlikely places such as a tropical island paradise (actually it’s where they dump the ash from burning Singapore’s waste, but we had to paddle with the PR stream) and PSA, the Port of Singapore Authority which handles the most containers of any port in the world (though I learnt that Shanghai beats Singapore by tonnage – all that whiteware going to USA).

The last episode – was the trickiest to script but in some ways the easiest to shoot. We went on a cruise to nowhere. That’s right, the destination was in the middle of the Straits of Malacca where I watched the ship’s instruments indicate the props were turning over less than a rev a second to keep the ship in position against a 3-knot current. And there we stayed for most of the night while the other patrons gambled and gambolled the night way with shows, cinema, food and drink. Well; it turns out that it was this episode that won us a Bronze in the New York Film & TV festival. Director was Wilson Yip, who also directed three of the other episodes. Well done, all of us.

A DVD has been made of the series, due out early next year. It’s distributed by the splendid Objectifsfilms in Singapore, and available for SGD 23 here. As it says, “Journey with U.K-based photographer Tom Ang (“Digital Picture of Britain”, BBC series) as he explores the hidden urban beauty of Singapore. In each episode, Tom ventures out into the island with young photographers sharing photography tips and taking an adventure with their cameras in hand to find the extraordinary in the ordinary.”

Episodes and first broadcast

(all have been repeated … and repeated):

Resorts World & School of the Arts (2009-08-19)
Singapore Dance Theatre & Timbre (2009-08-26)
Semakau Landfill & Pulau Ubin (2009-09-02)
Kim Keat Lane Bakery & Changi Fishery (2009-09-09)
PSA & Print Dynamics (2009-09-16)
Pearl Bank Apartments & Margaret Drive (2009-09-23)
Southern Ridges & Sungei Buloh )2009-09-30)
Star Cruises (2009-10-07)

The series was taken on by Passion Distribution and was moderately successful, selling to several countries with a good success in Norway.


Production shots

This is what happens when the director calls for a ‘360’. On the inter-tidal walk on Pulau Semakau.

Presenter’s eye view. A few minutes, the crew filmed me duelling with a monkey. Well, he snarled at me, and I snarled back.

Group shot at the top of Pearl Bank Apartments, one of the first and certainly the most individual of Singapore’s tower blocks.

Relaxed moment checking footage (or so they said; Facebook catch-ups more likely) at end of day’s shooting.

Setting up a two-heads shot by the side of the pool at Peninsula Excelsior Hotel.

Rare time to flop while waiting for sun to set on a Changi fish-farm. Waitaminnit; does that mean everything else on script’s been ticked off?

Setting up one of the early shoots: lights with dodgy connections and presenter with dodgy skills were a bit trying at first.

Hard-hats for all while working at PSA with, arm, unofficial exemption for the sound man who can’t get his head-phones on otherwise.

Even on a cloudy day, the crew had to shade the viewfinder so the director can see what he’s aiming at.


COPYRIGHT © TOM ANG/Tom Ang Partnership

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