Author: Jason Cayanan, APEX
Hello, my name is Jason Cayanan, a Assistant Producer at Asia Pacific Exhibitors (APEX for short). I will be writing about a specific lesson in a five-day Direction and Production module, conducted by Clifford Ng.
Clifford Ng is an old hand in the media industry, having more than three decades of experience in a large variety of roles. He has been a Producer, a Director, a Radio Presenter, News Anchor, Editor and much more! He has certainly been to places!
Some of his advice seemed to be common sense. Be varied in your compositions, be aware of what your final objective is in a work. Albeit, for many people working in media, it seemed common sense was not so common.
However, several points that he made were a mental equivalent to a slap in the face for many of my colleagues. They were much-needed slaps in the face, though, getting them to pay attention to what was done badly and what could be done to get better.
For example, he criticised the past projects of the company, where the people who worked on them merely followed rote instructions from their clients (who were often not trained in matters of video production) or improvised on the spot. Instead, he said, the best way was to find out what result the client actually wanted (even if it took a bit of poking and prodding to find out).
Then, the production process should be meticulously planned and executed, even if it takes more work and inconvenience than what the client is used to. If it results in an excellent work that portrays the client in a flattering light, Clifford argues, then the client would think it would have been worth it. If the company did the easy way out, and produced half-rate work in the process, then the reputation of the company (and thus the likelihood for clients to hire them in the future) suffers.
A particularly memorable segment of the lesson came near the end.
Clifford showed us videos of a scene that looked straight out of an extremely serious police procedural.
He showed us several variations on that scene, with the same script, actors, and setting. The only differing factor was the blocking, camera angles, and how the actors were directed.
For example, he showed us a scene variation that had the lead actors walk around as they were talking, without any cuts (a “oner”). This made the scene feel more tense and fast-paced, even though the words being spoken were exactly the same.
Then, he showed us even more radically different scenes. These scenes had the exact same script, actors, and setting as the first one, but they were set in completely different genres.
One was a Romantic Comedy (which had the actors deliver them in a coy, flirtatious way), and another was a Situation Comedy (which had the characters do silly things and deliver their lines off handedly).
The lesson we took away here was this: How the camera and actors are directed plays a huge part is how the story is perceived by the audience. In film and video, the story does not only exist in the script, and thus great care must be taken with these elements exclusive to filmmaking.
Overall, I am thankful that such an experienced hand bothered to take time out of his schedule to help us at APEX. He is certainly a fountain of experience, and we look forward to meeting him again in the next lesson.