"If you want to understand the kind of issues that are on young people's minds, watch their films."David Procter, AAYFF Director
Few would have a better insight into that than David, who watched over 300 films from 62 different schools and 14 countries in his role as Director of the Across Asia Youth Film Festival 2018. He describes gaining a real sense of Asia through the eyes of 10-21 year olds, with cultures throughout the region represented in both vignettes and portraits of people's lives. Often cathartic, the subject matter covered issues very personal to being a young person today, including academic pressure, body image, the impact of screen time, personal relationships, as well as wider themes including conservation, pollution and poverty.
As a teacher who has invested a great deal in developing audio-visual literacy through filmmaking at Tanglin Trust School, David understands the passion and determination it takes to tell a story through film. With the young filmmakers giving so much of themselves, the AAYFF in return gives them the broadest possible audience for their work, with many opportunities to connect with their audience, media professionals and peers.
From the connections formed between each other and industry professionals at the Industry Day, to the live audience reaction at the Gala Screening and the feedback from the judging panel, it is clear that the festival format puts young filmmakers front and centre of the dialogue they instigate by expressing themselves through film.
The AAYFF would not have been possible without the support of the festival partners, Tanglin's neighbours at one-north – Disney, HBO and Mediacorp. The 2018 judging panel included Tom Batchelor, Disney's General Manager of Studio Entertainment for South East Asia; Garon De Silva, Vice President, Original Productions at HBO Asia; and Doreen Neo, Chief Content Officer at Mediacorp.
The addition of the Industry Day this year gave shortlisted filmmakers an insight into a range of pre-production, production and post-production procedures. Presentations by Industrial Light & Magic and Lucasfilm introduced the students to the development of characters from initial conceptual sketches to the screen, using examples from Marvel Studios and Star Wars, brought to life with CGI techniques such as motion capture.
Disney provided the students with a detailed picture of the business of film distribution and marketing using the recent 'Avengers: Infinity War' as a case study. During the HBO sessions students had the opportunity to observe VFX, CGI and editing in situ in the suites of Infinite Studios and tour a working set of Mediacorp's long running TV production 'Tanglin'.
Now in its second year, both the event and the entrants have built on the last. It has been very satisfying for all involved to see both the continuity and development. The AAYFF 2017 filmmakers set a benchmark for quality, which the 2018 entrants have expanded upon in interesting, surprising ways. Submissions were technically more advanced and exhibited a greater range and depth of content. The Industry Day also enabled this year's filmmakers to get to know each other and ultimately support each other's work during the screening.
So what then, is in store for AAYFF 2019? Having founded the festival and directed it for the past two years, David can be satisfied that the vision for the event – to provide a platform for young filmmakers' creativity and to generate international dialogue through their films – has been realised. By connecting young filmmakers, industry partners and educators throughout Asia, the AAYFF has brought together a community that is passionate about film; an IRL forum that should continue to grow and develop going forward.
Before handing over the reins to another school next year, David credits the wonderful community here at Tanglin, including the Management Team, Film Department, Art Department, Events, Marketing and Communications, Theatre and EBT, as well as Catering and Operations, for working together with such energy, creativity and focus to bring the AAYFF vision to life.