Thursday, September 12, 2013


the only thing stopping me from absolutely leaving bloggery behind me now, is the fear i would be giving up on what i have worked so hard and so far for … but something will have to give, if i am to properly take care of dad, and it sure as heck it's not going to be dad's well-being to be sacrificed here. TOYSREVIL needs to evolve, or it will perish amongst the forgotten, regardless.

Things I Did In Life Before Blogging: Designed for Television

I had worked for over four years in a local broadcasting station (which meant the ONLY broadcast station in Singapore LOL) during the mid-1990s to end-90s. I had seen the transformation of SBC to TCS, and left the place before it became MCS. I had no television training before this, but knowing Interior Design helped me navigate the waters, so to speak

I was in the 'Production Services' Department, and did primarily Stage Design (what we called "Sets") for Television, in both Short and Long form. Variety Shows were my forte, and I even had a dream to design the MTV Awards!

What i/we did: Conceptualize and designed scenes/sets. Did construction drawings and documentation. Liaise with both in-house and external builders and contractors to make the set. Liaise with show producers for props and set changes. Liaise with stagehands to get the set up and running. Liaise with Lighting Designers to light up the set. Heck, we did all of that, and were credited as "Set Designers" LOL

The job suited me to a T tho - with quick turnaround times (I get bored pretty quickly and easily ;p) and even shorter time-frames (I used to thrive on short deadlines - key words being "used to" ;p), I excelled in my job, and got promoted to being a Senior Set Designer in my second year, for which another long-time serving senior lamented to me; "You know, it took me 8 years working here before I got promoted to 'Senior'…" - which essentially dictated how the working environment was for me then LOL

I learnt designing for tv the "hard way". Fellow colleagues were not exactly forthcoming with teaching me the ropes (most of them anyways = welcome to the reality of working in Singapore, folks!) and I literally learnt everything else (besides 'design') from my crew - folks who transported my set from warehouse to recording studios, folks who carried props for me, folks who used hammer and nails to build sets, and lighting designers who understood and appreciated the fact that I would sit in with them to meet about shows we were doing, and actually discussed with them the moods we would like to do (apparently something not that often a happening with many a designers? wow).

I did not learn much from my peers, but instead from the folks I had depended on to make the sets work, and I am always grateful for their time and patience. The "value" in the value-chain only applies to your pay-grade at the end of the month, but the experience grasped from these "lower-end of the spectrum" workers in the big company, was invaluable to me.

I left because the management would not let me take another 'unpaid leave of absence' to do my third local feature film. Such arrogance of me, right? LOL

I had continued to design for television for the remainder of my decade in the local media industry, but the support structure was no longer the same.

I remember the euphoria for the work done was what I term the "5-minute thrill" - you spend an exhausting time designing and making sure the set goes up, and that moment before the finished set is handed over to the producers of the show, for rehearsals, is the only time you could stand in the middle of the stage, look up at it, and enjoy the full-scene in front of you, even though it was only 5 minutes worth of time spent

That exhalation of breathe, and the joy of it, is harder to grasp and find these days, for me.

Shown here is a just a little montage of the sets I have done in my time, the ones I'm proud of showcasing anyways LOL

But I am always grateful for the chance to design stuff which I am both proud of and ashamed of thru the years, and the chance to see your works being interacted with other folks, is something to be relished.

Design and art is not necessarily a 'one-way-street', otherwise it would only be just "work".


Friday, September 6, 2013

An Ode To Teachers

My utmost mostest memorablest teacher of all time, has to be "Mr Bell" from my Secondary school. An English gentleman, who taught me "Literature", and as well was my form teacher in for two years (secondary 3 & 4 - which meant he saw me at my worst ;p).

I hated Lit, and could not fathom the intricacies and nuances of the language (aka "don't understand fuq all the cock-talked"). And I could see Mr Bell had trouble getting it thru to my stubborn head.

Finding out I liked comicbooks, Mr Bell then taught me how to relate to the story and characters in Literature books ("Merchant of Venice", "Hard Times" blahblahblah hahaha), as if I would comicbook superheroes and villains, and that simple parallel helped me not just understand the books, but widened my narrow perceptions (not the "love-love"-kind, but others in general lol).

Even though I failed Literature in my 'O' Levels still (Scored in my English language tho lol), it was not the result of my exams' marks that proved the worth of Mr Bell's teachings, but of the horizons and possibilities he opened for me, years ago, which has lasted till this day and age, decades later.

But I have to say though, it was not as if I turned out to be a good student too, as my educational results were pretty effin' dismal, no doubt to the dismay of my parents' expectations haha

The role of a teacher is more important than anyone suspects, not just because he/she helps you memorize the textbooks, so that you could regurgitate it later in tests and exams, but because a good teacher can help mold you to be the person you will grow to be, or not to be.

A teacher might not give you "dreams", but they can help provide you with tools, to help you make your dreams a reality, eventually in life.

Help make dreams come true, do not crush them.

Ironically, years later I became an educator at LaSalle for a short few years, but perhaps I was not as effective or inspirational enough to even enjoy being wished "Happy Teachers' Day" hahaha .. but nevertheless, I wish all you educators out there, a very HAPPY TEACHERS DAY!