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Masked Heroes: Telling Our Stories in Times of Crisis

14 August 2020

This National Day, we wanted to create a short film to celebrate what it means to be Singaporean, that also reflected the very real challenges we faced from the COVID-19 pandemic. In these trying times, it is all the more important we stay resilient as a community and show kindness to one another, despite the trials we face. #BecauseWeCare

A creative gathering

It has been a difficult year for many. The pandemic has greatly affected working routines and livelihoods. For the creative and gig community (many of whom are freelancers), they felt it very acutely. We were fortunate to gather a group of talented storytellers, musicians, actors/actresses and production crew to help us bring the video to life.

Here’s a quick look behind the scenes at how we rallied to tell a story in the midst of a pandemic.

Making it work

With the COVID-19 situation, it was hard to find the right talents and auditioning had to be held remotely. Based on the script provided, interested actors and actresses had to film themselves and send in a short clip of their performance for the audition. This was difficult for some who were working and living on their own during the pandemic.

For one talent, it required some neighbourly kindness. She approached a neighbour to help film her audition tape and even had to cajole them for additional takes. It was wonderful to witness the generosity of others and the lengths our talents would go to, to be part of the project.

Daily cuts

Besides casting limitations, the video had to be edited in an unorthodox way. Usually, editing begins only after filming has been completed. But to ensure the video could be shared in time for National Day, editing was done at the end of each day of filming. It was a tall order, but our wonderful crew gracefully and tirelessly managed.

Sound approach

Producing the video involved a unique approach too! Music is traditionally added during video production. However, as the song (“It’s the Little Things”) played a key role in this film, both music and script were produced simultaneously. This National Day Parade classic was re-arranged, performed and recorded to reflect the sentiments of the story, while the story was written to match the melody and lyrics.

Thankfully, our stable of musicians was more than up to the task. We were lucky to call upon a who’s who of the industry! With stalwarts like Mathilda D’silva and Sebastian Ho, the collective resume of the musicians boasted work on musicals like The Lion King and touring support for renowned artistes like David Tao, George Lam, Stefanie Sun, Liang Wern Fook and Laura Fygi.

Reality check

On the last day of filming, as is customary, we celebrated by shouting “it’s a wrap!” in unison. To which a member of the freelance crew jokingly quipped “我们又失业了!” (“We’re out of a job again!”). It was a sobering reminder of the reality that continues for many Singaporeans, especially those in the gig economy and media industry. This made the film all the more poignant, for it was a story made and told by those who could empathise or were living right through the economic effects of COVID-19.

We are our stories

It has been humbling to witness the passion and professionalism of our creative community. What they do will always have a valuable place in society. Stories like these have the power to help us relate, hope for better or simply feel less alone, especially when times are difficult.

To the amazing individuals we worked with: Thank you for being the heart of this National Day video and helping us share a story that matters. Life may be challenging, but we are here with you. We are strongest when we stand together.

Our masked heroes:

MusicVideo & ProductionActing
Mathilda D’silva (Vocals) Calvin Shang (Director of Photography)Aidan Sim (Father)
Sebastian Ho (Music Producer, Arrangement, Guitars)Daryl Nah (Camera Assistant)Anees Hameed (Employer)
Rizal Sinap (Drums, Percussions)Chia Wing Keong (Gaffer)Joan Teo (Mother)
Tang Jia (Cello)Ghufran Jasni (Grip)Noel Tan (Son)
Colin Yong (Bass, Backup Vocals)Patrick Yeo (Grip)Vinnie Mok (Grandmother)
Toni Goh (Recording Engineer)Hadi Liang (Grip)Ng Lee Huat (Grandfather)
Stefan Ye (Music Producer)Nelson Pereira (Sound)Anita Saleh (Teacher)
Mei Sheum (Keyboards)Angel Gwee (Makeup)Kavita Kaur (FairPrice Staff)
Robin Wong (Mixing, Mastering Engineering)Miyuki Seah (Production Assistant)Christina Hon (Kopitiam Staff)
Eric Lau (Colour Grading)

Learn more about the initiatives behind #BecauseWeCare, see:

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