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'I Like Twisted, Surreal Stuff'

NTU grad's short film to be screened at National Museum on Sunday

Michelle Cheong may be an art director by profession.

But the 23-year-old is also trying to carve a name for herself in another creative field – that of film-making.

Her latest short film, The Wedding Avenger, was selected for the 8th Singapore Short Cuts, a programme of the National Museum of Singapore Cinémathèque in partnership with The Substation Moving Images.

It will be shown on Sunday at the National Museum of Singapore's Gallery Theatre.

Boasting elements of Ms Cheong's distinctive style – she's fascinated with symbols and colours – The Wedding Avenger is a fantasy-comedy revolving around a newlywed who battles post-wedding jitters and faces her insecurities in an arcade world inspired by games like Tetris and House Of The Dead.

Ms Cheong graduated from Nanyang Technological University's School of Art, Design and Media two weeks ago with a degree in fine arts.

She is now working as an assistant art director at Artison Asia, which is part of media production company The Shooting Gallery.

She told FiRST: "I filmed The Wedding Avenger (in my final year) when I was going through a tough time (in my personal life), and facing a lot of changes in my life."

But she added excitedly: "My whole 'kampong' (referring to her friends) is coming!

"Most of them have watched it before, but they're coming to support the screening."

She has received positive feedback for her film so far.

"People told me that they were second guessing their marriages too, which is what the protagonist does," she said.

"It made me realise that it was a very real issue, and I was glad people could relate to it.

"I hope that after watching it, people will dare to face life. After all, in life, change is inevitable."

The Wedding Avenger is her follow-up to her first short film, Mouthead, which was screened at the 6th Singapore Short Film Festival last year.

In Mouthead, the biggest visual prop was a mouth instead of a human head.

She explained: "I'm a very visual person. I believe in the use of props, since I myself have a short attention span...I like twisted, surreal stuff."

That said, horror isn't her thing.

She said: "I'm actually quite a chicken when it comes to gore."

Ms Cheong began dabbling in art when she was a Pioneer Junior College student in 2005, but stumbled on film-making when she enrolled in NTU two years later.

She said: "I thought I'd try it out, but my first film was crappy, I can't watch it."

Despite a less-than-favourable result for her maiden attempt, she liked the process of filming and decided to major in it.

To her, the similarity between art directing and film directing is that "both help you to tell stories, and that's what I love".

For now, Ms Cheong will be focusing on her day job, though she will set aside time to pursue film-making when she can.

She said: "Previously, if you wanted to try film-making, you'd have to experiment with a camera on your own.

"The scene in Singapore is becoming more vibrant – there are so many more courses that encourage film-making."

– Tong Su Yee

Source: The New Paper
Date of Publication: 11/08/2011