• Joshua Ow Yong

The Magic That is Film

Like every other craft, there are just too many interpretations of what filmmaking is to each individual. Some view it as entertainment, a form of expression, an escape, perhaps an art form, or a business?

Film has too much potential just to be entertainment or business. It is not a product that can be mass-produced. Sure, commercials and corporate videos seem to fit a template that can be utilised over and again, but the effort that is shown in a good piece of work requires passionate love of the craft. When I first fell in love with film, I fell in love with the way it can create the perfect moment or image. The beautiful setting for a confession of love, the finale performance of someone who has been training their entire life, down to a simple scene of walking the street to the beat of a soundtrack. It makes me happy. The perfect moment— that was my pursuit. But that’s easy.

When I grew older and delved deeper into filmmaking I realised how intricate this art form is. Not just in the way it creates a perfect moment, but the way everything comes together in perfect harmony to create a single image so it can tell a story. I fell in love once again, this time so much more.

There is an undeniable effect in storytelling. This meticulous construct of set, actors, music, colours, lights, angles and so much more, carries a message in its make. As they unify to bring across a narrative, individual elements fade into the grander piece like a mosaic. Then comes the punch— the effect, when the audience see the bigger picture, perhaps a single message that was brought across through the plot. It tugged at their heart strings, it resonated with their experiences. Some stories so realistic that they drew tears. Here the effect takes place, viewers would have a response to the narrative they were presented; laughters, tears, motivation, becoming inspired. This is the moment where the message hits home, this moment is simply magic. By credits roll it would have been made clear that every single name on screen had spent long hours and contributed to the creation of an intricate art form so that someone in their seat would be impacted. The never-ending list of names roll on and rightful appreciation is demanded for the production crew.

Sometimes the impact of a film leaves people shaken to their core. These films change lives. Not all at once most of the time, but little by little every lesson brought about will change lives. Now this, this is difficult. When I experienced this and understood its effect, I knew that my pursuit of the perfect moment doesn’t just consist of a pretty image. A pretty image doesn’t do justice. It isn’t simply a feel-good scene. The perfect moment is when I, the viewer, am left dumbfounded and shaken to my core. It can be ugly, it can be the most revolting feeling that the film gives you, but in this discomfort there is a lesson to be learnt and it can only be brought across through such means. So in this reality a picturesque scene serves only as a tool to the story. Story is king and everything else is slave to story.

And so, a story presented, a message brought across. Film has become something more, it has become a vessel of influence. In the midst of meddling with what seemed like pretty pictures on a screen, I realised its potential. I realised the power and responsibility I had as a filmmaker to inform and influence for the better. What a weight!

The fascination for stories will never die. Stories fuel us, inspire us, motivate us, they entertain us. They keep us alive, and it’s these stories that have impacted me and in some way changed my life, which I’d like to emulate. I keep wondering if I could bring the same impact for someone as my favourite films have brought for me. That’s the magic of film I keep believing.

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© 2019 Joshua Ow Yong