Ang Geck Geck fell into filmmaking by luck, but she’s an accidental filmmaker no more.
Her short film child sexual abuse ‘Broken Crayon’, won the Best Fiction at the Singapore Short Film Awards, which was produced while pursuing her film major at the School of Art at the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
Since then, she’s amassed a prolific reel of commercials, directed two short films, and is an alumna of the Busan Asian Film Academy.
She’s tenacious and resourceful, working as a model, stylist, blogger, and even in coffee shops and as a banquet waitress. No one can say she doesn’t work hard.
Here are our takeaways from Geck’s inspiring journey:
#1 – Nobody clapped. Everyone was shocked.
While pursuing her humanities degree at the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, Geck’s involvement in film productions were limited to wardrobe or stylist, never at the director’s seat.
She only found an opportunity to direct in her final year project, ‘Broken Crayon’.
The challenge wasn’t just the short film’s controversial subject. She had difficulty putting together a crew as many doubted her abilities. She was perceived as being frivolous and flighty, as she also modelled and pursued lifestyle blogging. The hurtful comments travelled and came back to her, but her critics were silenced and now speak highly of her.
“I wasn’t popular, and it wasn’t easy. I did a lot of research to direct this sensitively, working with counsellors and working very closely and honestly with the child actor.”
After the short film had screened, Geck realised that nobody was clapping. It was because everyone was shocked — she didn’t realise how dark it was.
#2 – Film was accidental, now it is a calling
“I realised that film was powerful. It could give a voice, and it could create discussion about taboos, and topics that are hard to talk about.”
“Young girls and stories about childhood happened to be a subject because they are based on stories from friends and my personal life. As someone in my late twenties, I’m making stories based on my life experience to be able to make an authentic story. I believe that my stories and themes will change as I also age.”
She found the confidence to pursue film through her professor’s encouragement. ‘Broken Crayon’ became the first of a trilogy Ah Girl, and has amassed an impressive portfolio for commercial directing.
It’s still a struggle to make ends meet as a freelancer, and to find that she’s judged for her appearance instead of her work.
Women in film is still a novelty, even in the commercial world.
“There was a rare occasion that I received a compliment for my portfolio, but the general perception of film directors is that they are male, has facial hair, and that experience comes with age.”
#3 – It’s always realistic when you pursue your dream
Geck has her eyes on the prize — to direct internationally and to present at a film festival like Cannes.
“I’m still struggling as an artist, and I need a breakthrough. It’s very painful because you don’t know when it will come.
“But I am very driven. When I have a goal, I want to achieve it. It’s always realistic to pursue your dreams,” Geck says.
Describing her last year in university, she details what it cost her. Three jobs to pay for her school fees, which came to SGD3,000. And she raised close to SGD10,000 to shoot ‘Broken Crayon’.
Geck will work on her debut feature film in a year or two, which tells the story of a 7-year-old girl dealing with her parents’ divorce
“I know that as a filmmaker, it will take me a few years to prove myself, whether through financial stability or recognition.”
“I’ve been working since I was 13. My family is very pragmatic and realistic, but they’re proud of me. But I’m working hard because I want to provide better for my grandparents, as I am indebted to them for my upbringing.”
Read about the two other outstanding personalities featured, the indigenous filmmaker Nadira Ilana and her search for her native Dusun roots
And the producer Bianca Balbuena who only takes on projects that scare her.