In Her Own Words: Sabrina Poon Discusses Family And Film

 

Sabrina Poon looking away from camera

Sabrina Poon is the director of Pa, part of the Scene City anthology of short films about people and their stories in cities, through the eyes of Viddsee filmmakers. She also recently completed tech dystopia short film Sylvia for 20/20: The Temasek Short Film Project.

We speak with Sabrina about the portrayal of families and relationships with parents in Pa.

Duan hugging Corwin

Still of Duan Wei Ming (Pa) and Corwin Ong (Jayden) in ‘Pa’

Tell us about what inspired the creation of the grandfather character in Pa.
I realised that in my past works, I have always placed the focus around a female protagonist. This is partly because I was drawing a lot from my personal life and perspective in the modern world.

When it came to Pa, it was a similar approach. I was conveying a father’s love from a daughter’s perspective. I drew a lot of inspiration from my father when creating the grandfather character. The habit of being topless when at home, the loud conversations in dialect, the loud TV sound etc, that’s all him! Heheh…

two male cousins awkwardly holding hands without looking at each other

Still from ‘In Different’

Your short films — First Love, In Different, and now Pa — explore the emotional side of relationships, particularly in families. What about it draws you in as a filmmaker?
The dynamics of every family are different, yet at the same time, very relatable. How we interact with our family, be it siblings, parents, grandparents, is very real and comfortable. It’s not the same with friends lah haha.

You can’t judge someone as unfilial for just a moment of disrespect, or expect them be 24/7 respectful and polite when speaking to parents. There’s a certain level of comfort when we are with our family, the way we communicate — I find that real, unique and interesting.

What are your thoughts on portraying meaningful family relationships onscreen?
Three words: Keep it real!

Young girl smiling at her father

Still of Cana Yu as a younger Denise in ‘Pa’

How does the dynamic change when working with Corwin and Cana Yu, the children who play Jayden and Denise, compared with the adults on set?
I do enjoy working with kids on set, it creates a whole new challenge with the art of negotiation! I am fortunate to have Corwin and Cana on set, both are really smart and intuitive! I don’t see a huge difference in directing adults or kids.

At the end of the day, I am breaking down a scene or their character for them as I direct. Perhaps it’s more straightforward with adults.

Denise looking up from open fridge to smile

Still of Darrell Chan as Denise in ‘Pa’

As a filmmaker, what were the factors important to you in the making of Pa?
I didn’t want Denise, the daughter, to be a character we would hate. She’s not unfilial or disrespectful. It’s just part and parcel of life, the way we communicate with our parents. It’s easy to distance ourselves from our parents especially when we are focused with leading our own lives.

The important thing for me was to keep a balance on the relationship between Pa and Denise. Maintain its authenticity while keeping it subtle.

Pa is not a film of regret or reflection of how we should not treat our parents, it’s a reminder of the moments we share with them, and that should be something we hold close to heart. Because love is conveyed in unique ways.

Watch ‘Pa’ by Sabrina Poon (Singapore) on Viddsee!

Another film! ‘Light By Bedside’ is the touching story of a single mother and her independent young son

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