Over the past semester, we saw an increasing vibrancy in the visual arts in NUS. With the recent installation of the Here! Arts Carnival Party in NUS as well as an Art History minor, one remains ecstatic about the prospects of the arts culture in the university.
The NUS Centre of the Arts (CFA), the university’s cultural centre is the central powerhouse that offers the students opportunities to hone their appreciation and passion towards the arts, inspiring strong communities via its programmes, exhibitions and workshops. More than offering activities for students to participate in, CFA also supports the student-run clubs in their individual endeavours. Let us take a look at how CFA supports NUS’ very own nuStudios – a student-run film production club.
On a mission to promote a culture of filmmaking and film appreciation on campus, nuStudios Film Productions produces various films and have their finest participate in both local and international film festivals like the Singapore Short Film Festival and the Asian American International Film Festival. The CFA club offers a diverse range of activities and training programmes that include masterclasses by industry professionals as well as inhouse boot camp sessions to teach the new members some of the basics of film production.
I spoke to nuStudios’ head of marketing and publicity, Judith Ramirez, to know more about how the club goes about planning their activities and exactly how they are able to do so. The planning of nuStudios’ programmes mainly focuses on the production and programmes aspects, keeping in mind of the differing skills of its members.
Here is a rundown of the programmes nuStudios offered in AY2016/2017
- What: Introducing filmmaking newbies to the basics of film production, while offering the experienced student creators to get to know the club better as well as an opportunity to engage in their craft with other film enthusiasts.
- Who: NUS Students
- When: Semester 1
- What: Crash courses from real life experts that shares first hand advise from working in the industry, locally as well as internationally. The mentorships are divided into 6 departments: Cinematography, Directing, Editing, Sound, Scriptwriting and Producing.
- Who: NUS Students
- When: Semester 2
Summer and Winter Productions
- What: A chance to apply what you have learnt from Film School and your mentorships in to a summer or winter long production with other fellow filmmakers from nuStudios. The productions are made possible with the help of CFA, and various sponsors and industry partners.
- When: Summer and Winter Break
- Who: Anyone
Point and Shoot
- What: An annual short film competition organized by nuStudios, giving you the opportunity to plan, shoot, edit and submit the best 3-minute short film in teams. You will only be given fewer than 55 hours to complete this once this year’s theme is released. What a fun challenge!
- When: 16 March 2018
- Who: All pre-university and tertiary institution students
If you are interested, check out the Point and Shoot website here.
Speaking to Judith, I was enlightened on how the general student population is not too aware of the local filmmaking scene. To Judith, there has been a growing attention on local films, but majority of the interest tends to come from people who are already in the film community and still not as much from the general public. She mentioned how Singapore’s filmmakers such as Boo Jun Feng and Kirsten Tan are actually getting more and more attention from the international filmmaking audience and so, it is encouraging for both aspiring filmmakers and even for the general public.
This is why the arts scene in NUS plays such an important role in the university’s education and student life. Educating and exposing the students to more artists and works as well as encouraging them to pursue their artistic endeavors gives us grounds to grow creatively and as people. To quote eminent writer Kilroy J. Oldster, “Witnessing the panoply of beauty in all of nature takes us out of our shell of self-absorption … and is how we stay in touch with the glorious pageantry of living”. As an educational instituition that prides in producing well rounded citizens of the world, an exposure to the visual arts provides one with a wealth of knowledge and appreciation for creativity and innovation. Such can also be applied to students’ majors and fields, inspiring an interdisciplinary outlook on the world. What better way to learn than from being introduced to different art forms in a space that encourages learning and fearless experimentation?
Fortunately, there are such outlets in the arts scene, even with NUS. Like nuStudios, there are many other student clubs that aim to provide students a chance to discover and hone their appreciation for the arts. To Judith, through these outlets, students are even exposed to the arts industry outside of campus, which she thinks is a promising channel if ever students would like to take their love for the arts beyond just a hobby.
The CFA for instance, have really helped the film production club to carry out their film programmes and term break productions via funding and guidance. With the NUS and CFA platform, sponsors and industry partners have also contributed in fulfilling the nuStudios mission – providing a community for filmmaking enthusiast in NUS.
Nonetheless, there is still room for improvement. The visual arts scene in NUS is not as accented as one would like. My conversation with Judith included a discussion of how screenings are targeted to introduce the general student population to local and student film and hone appreciation, but the focus tended to lie with international films. However, as a member of nuStudios and its Publicity and Marketing Team, she remains positive and would take this as a definite sign to up their game in terms of producing better films and having a comprehensive publicity.
“Filmmaking is one of those ventures that require not only artistic and creative capacity, but also technical aptitude. The former is something that we are constantly working on to improve by continuously writing and exploring artistitc possibilities but the latte is something that we tend to face obstacle with.”
The NUS arts scene is one that is still in its preliminary stages, but is also on an ever growing discourse that is on its way to an exponential trajectory. Like how we have witnessed the CFA contribute to nuStudios and their philosophy, we can only hope that the univeristiy’s students grapple on to this opportunity to explore and experiment voraciously, being open to new experiences and giving back to the visual arts community.