Film Writing for Change

By Brenda Ashwini Krishnan, a Republic Polytechnic Diploma in Mass Communication student

Writing documentary scripts to encourage social change was one of the many workshops offered to both aspiring and experienced writers at the All In! Young Writers Festival 2016, organised by the National Book Development Council of Singapore (NBDCS). The Festival was held from 12-13 March at the National Library Building, with participants choosing from six workshops helmed by renowned speakers, aside from the conference sessions and panel discussions.

“With the advent of digital camera technology, almost anyone who has a smartphone could document a subject around them. However, the choice of words during scriptwriting should not be overlooked,” argued filmmaker Alemberg Ang, who led the workshop titled Documentaries and Development Journalism: Writing Scripts for Change on the second day of the festival.

“It is essential to watch our tone when producing a documentary,” said Mr Ang. “We cannot show the subject in a pitiful or miserable light to avoid demeaning them and this has to do with the choice of words.”

After a 10-year teaching stint, Mr Ang changed professions and started producing for films. His directorial debut, The Rapture of Fe, won Best Digital Feature Film at the 33rd Cairo International Film Festival.

Mr Ang felt making documentaries has an impact on the filmmaker too.  “It may sound cheesy but it makes you more human,” he said. “It adds value to you as a person and makes you feel connected to other people. And because you’re sharing it with someone else, it basically connects the two of you. You sharing it to someone else connects you to someone else, and it basically connects everyone through the stories that we tell.”

Besides Mr Ang’s workshop, there were five other sessions held for game writing, creative teaching, fiction writing and book cover design for children’s books.

Students, teachers and content creators who attended Mr Ang’s workshop found it both enriching and engaging. Some felt concepts covered in the workshop could be applied elsewhere, beyond the realm of making films.

“I was recommended by my teacher to attend this workshop to help me with writing for my campus newspaper, which is my co-curricular activity,” shared Nicolas Huin, a first-year student from Innova Junior College.

Some participants were also moved to tears when they watched clips shown during the workshop. “I got so emotional during some of the scenes that it left me teary-eyed,” said Tan Zu An, a first-year student from Innova Junior College. “Overall, it was indeed a wonderful experience.”