29 July 2020
FINDING FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
From directing to scriptwriting at the ATF Chinese Pitch
By Yuuka Ng | Edited by Lulu M
Ang Yee Sien receives her winning cheque.
Here with renowned judges, Xiao Ji Xiang Tian (right) and iQIYI’s Chen Xiao
at the ATF Chinese Pitch 2019
Being part of the ATF Chinese Pitch in 2018, as well as in 2019, was a form of scriptwriting training for Ang Yee Sien. By her own volition, Yee Sien holds over 12 years of experience as a Director. In fact, she has even won Best Drama at the Golden Awards in 2017 for Away From Home (最难忘的假期).
Although Yee Sien enjoys the process of collaborating with writers, she decided to take that step and enter the ATF Chinese Pitch, seeing it as a platform that allowed her to express her story ideas freely, while at the same time, obtaining exposure for her projects, giving them greater chances of rendering them into production.
With the same aspirations, Yee Sien hopes to see more projects in general progress into production. What has kept her fire burning, fuelling her creative energy, is seeing others working hard on their respective projects. This has been a major reason why she has kept in touch with a couple of finalists at the ATF Chinese Pitch, who are active in Singapore scene. This also delights Yee Sien every time ATF comes around, as she looks forward to networking by and large with industry players.
Yee Sien at her day job as a Director
Yee Sien’s project, <更衣室里谁的手机>, which won at the ATF Chinese Pitch last year, was based on her own experience. Being conflicted at how people tend to give away their personal information easily in the digital world nowadays sparked an appealing design for a potential online drama series.
“What if someday your smart phone is stolen, and someone tries to impersonate you as the owner of the smart phone?,” explained Yee Sien. “From there, we developed the interesting persona of the main character, who craves for attention, as she attempts to raise her sense of social presence and self-worthiness.
“When she finds a smart phone whose owner is a well-liked golden girl, and has a character totally opposite of hers, she picks up this new found identity, and eventually learns lessons when indulging herself in a pseudo world.
“We often ask questions like, how much do people in the virtual dimension express genuine care and love? Essentially, how much recognition do we need from others in order to survive? Why is self-love and self-recognition not enough?
“It turns out to be a bittersweet story,” Yee Sien described, “as we begin to relate some of the traits we share with the various characters.”
Yee Sien’s character muses were obtained through observing human behaviour, and the interaction among people of different personalities. She thinks humans, and their psychological makeup is a complex and interesting subject.
Ang Yee Sien (front right) with her fellow winners (front row), and other finalists and judges
After the release of 欢喜大团圆 – a popular Chinese New Year drama series on Astro’s in house Hokkien-generic TV channel, 欢喜台 (Hua Hee Dai), Yee Sien lent her skills to commercial projects to adapt to the post-lockdown situation. “We need to produce faster to fulfil the demands of clients, as the lock-down period was unproductive.”
Yee Sien would like to motivate aspiring creators to take the ATF Chinese Pitch as an opportunity to hone their storytelling skills. “If you follow through the whole competition process, you are actually working on a project for half a year; that's a substantial amount of time on keeping your focus to practise on,” concluded Yee Sien.
Isn’t about time to submit that idea for a theatrical/online movie or/and an online drama series?
Take that step and send in your innovative concepts for new and original scripts.
What are you waiting for?