Sunday, February 23, 2014

I Like Flea Markets

I've been thinking about "flea markets" quite a bit these few weeks, sprung from a need for survival via the solution of selling off my toys and trinkets amassed throughout the years, or simply giving up (full time) blogging to go find a job that would pay me what I need to survive and thrive on. Money doesn't "grown on trees" and seems blogging about it is very close (or perhaps I am adamant to acknowledge it already has) to become a virtual fertilizer for a virtual "money tree".

Be that as it may, I've always enjoyed helming flea market stalls, as well visiting them (one of my kryptonites in "life"), as opposed to having a "permanent" brick-n-mortar shop, to operate 24/7- for which I have zero temperament for, admittedly. I am not a people-person, and neither am I a good salesman (much less a "businessman"), so something with the temporary "hit" of hawking stuff, is a downright appealing notion to me. Once a week. Once a month. A decent trade-off for temperament over liquid-cash.

I mentioned "liquid cash" now, because I might not be in it for the "profits" - don't get me wrong, a profit makes the world happy, but at some point, "instant cash" makes me happier, and I do not necessarily have the patience to wait out a "profit" … told you I was a bad businessman hahahahahaha fullfookinstop.

But the flea markets these days have become such a rampant notion, that it is either a "hip" up-market happenings at discotheques or quaint locales for the younger set, or the heartland gatherings in open air public space next to the neighborhood supermarket, barber or bakery - all of which is a by-default way to clear older stock and personal stuff, to earn money hahaha. There's even a listing for them.

Singaporeans have embraced this concept the past few years, when literally over decade or two ago, it was still seen as something as "foreign" and/or "bohemian" a concept … "Why BUY something OLD and USED, when you can buy something brand NEW?"

Spent Saturday evening helping mum set up her first flea market stall (Sis stayed with her to man the stall instead) at the local heartland enclave, and as expected, it was (mostly) literally a hodgepodge of 2nd-hand wares being hawked, compared to many other flea markets that are places to sell modern and new goods, without the expense of permanent long-time space rental attributing to a brick-n-mortar with electricity and rental bills. And there's nothing wrong or demeaning in that, I think, as that's what constitutes a "flea market" in the first place, isn't it?

Through the years, it has evolved into the Singaporean subconsciousness, and in entertainment strapped Singapore, "things-to-do" gets eventual attention, regardless "good" or "bad".

(Table at The Substation)

Memories of my flea market jaunts include my first tenure at The Substation, Sunday Market, early 1990's. Where, for $5 rental per day. we would set up our own foldable table, a beach umbrella, and two stools - all of which were provide for by the location (now housing theoutdoors of "Timbre"), all inclusive of the $5!

Back then it was a literal "bohemian" concept, with impromptu fashion shows with the entire market grounds as the catwalk, or where an aspirating poet would self-publish and sell her own book of poetry, AND have her own poetry readings on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

Other stalls had handmade jewelry, knick knacks and collectibles, while mine was predominantly comicbooks and trading cards, while my friend Kelvin and Jon had their own stalls selling toys. Business was not great but the atmosphere was fun and refreshing (well, my ex(s) might not have agreed on this … ;p) and something "different" from the hustle and bustle of everyday Singapore!

I will always remember that one time when my sales for a Sunday yielded $2.50 (Can't remember what I sold tho), or that the highest ever was over $400, but only because I had advertised in a weekend newspaper classifieds for a comicbook sale!

(Table at Clarke Quay indoors)

Other flea markets had came and gone. Spent a formative few years at the Clarke Quay Flea Market in mid-late 90s (before everything was taken over and changed into the posh nightlife spot it is now known for) and even the outdoor corridors of Tanglin Mall (quite forgettable, really) post-New Millennium, to even the current Sunday Market at China Square Central (most folks there were from the CQ flea market itself), now predominantly known as THE spot to visit for TOYS.

Thinking back, most the time it had been a "leisurely" pursuit, a (somewhat "addictive") hobby to experience, and perhaps even the chance to earn some cash, to buy toys, comics and trading cards too (think "self-sustaining" hobby ;p), but circumstances had changed.

(Video walk-thru of CSC circa 2006 - not much has changed hahaha)

Since having my Stroke in 2010, my physicality has changed. My physical strength is no longer as robust - of course being "older" does no favors hahaa - and the notion of helming a flea market, is now more of a "challenge" than "adventure".

It is not about just sitting at your table making small talk and making sales, it is also about preparing and setting up your stall. It is about the transport of all the wonderful things people pawned haggle the price over, to and fro the venue. It is about hopefully not manning the table alone so that you could visit have a bathroom break (and a cigarette, back in the day anyways ;p). It is also the resistance of not spending your profits of the day at another booth (something which marked my days at CQ hahahaha).

(Table at CSC circa March 2010)

I think of CSC quite often, but the reality of transporting items quells that thought unfortunately. But the local flea market? It is accessible by trolley and a walk (good exercise for me, no doubt hahahaha), although I would not expect to be selling the toys I blog about, but then again, what avenues are open to me? An online shop is currently in the works, but in these lean days, "survival" takes priority, and "liquid cash"; is King. And I need to be it's humble servant.

But beyond the "real world" needs, I admittedly miss having flea market stall(s). I miss prepping things to sell, I missing making a sale. I miss meeting fellow toy-lovers in the flesh and face, and talking about toys … I don't miss the transporting of the stuff tho hahahaha


Thursday, February 20, 2014

Things I Did In Life Before Blogging: Directed TV Magazine Shows

I was a "Creative Director" (a term not many people associate with a production company, in the first place) for a local production house for a good 6+ years, after my job at the local TV broadcaster. During my tenure, I was also given the opportunity to direct television shows (primary "magazine" styled shows and short-form documentaries, and somehow even "produce" some of them (in inverted comas, because I am not disillusioned to snatch that title from folks who work hard for said title lol).

On top of that, I was still actively engaged in Art Directing and Production Design for film and television :)

"Directing" for tv magazine shows meant "camera-directing" for the bulk of my projects with the company, and subsequent freelance gigs saw me taking on an entire show, and most times not exceptionally swell at it, so I surmise (folks never did come back for seconds lol).

Hey, I've had my fair-share of numerous moments when I strapped a mini-monitor to my body, while standing alongside the cameraman handheld, with talents moving, okay? not every monitor's comfortably sitting on a table top under a giant umbrella, you know? MUAHAHAHAHAH

I reckon I am an extremely "visual guy", but when it comes to trying to convince people to go my way, to do what i ask them of, sometimes becomes an ego-battle. Most peeps need to be subdued or mollycoddled to do things asked of them, unfortunately - experienced or otherwise. I've done my fair share of battles and wars, and frankly the projects would have been better served if that need not have happened constantly lol ... No small wonder things do not advance more and faster than they should in the industry.

But you know what? I have been out for a pretty long time already, so I sure as heck won't know what sort of tomfoolery happens now, yeh? (But of course I do, I may have left the industry, but the industry has not left me ;p).

But my biggest 'fun" in the scheme of things, was not telling people to do things, but in co-creating television shows, such as music programs and arts programs. Essentially editorializing program content - pretty much what i do with my blog these days, or rather I do attempt to editorialize my posts, not willy-nilly posting stuff hahahaha

I remember the love/hate I had for music-related shows (at one point we helmed 4 shows per week), and the opportunity to "create" content, had with it a swell sense of "fulfilment" (regardless the result, as everything was under the approval of the client anyways lol). One memorable project was a weekly one-hour television show about the "Arts", for three seasons (so don't try to pull the wool over my eyes when it comes to the "arts" LOL *nudge-nudge*) - where we got under the skin of arts and the scene in Singapore, and even some choice overseas talents - I remember even shooting a Sam Flores segment waybackwhen lol

Shown throughout this post are extra-footage of small segments from one of the opening title of a weekly program about "The Arts", for which I cobbled together. The thing is, I left the industry without a single moving footage of my work in the past, and back in "my days", YouTube was a non-existing notion (or rather too 'young', not to mention "copyright" issues) and an entire generation of works were not made for such happenstance. A pity tho, as I am proud of my works, even if it's just me myself that feel that way hahaha :)

If there is one thing I gleamed from my experience in the past, that may well be relevant to whatever current or future projects or work I intend to be in: "the need for archival". In many ways, whatI do for "blogging" now, is in turn an attempt to archive the scene and times, even if my involvement in it is but a minimal brush against the community of the times.

Keep records of all your work with you, be it for a self-portfolio or works, or even an opportunity to reuse it subsequently for print or documentarian purposes - remember to keep all of your work, in high-res, with multiple back-up.

I might go on about my past, but if I do not have visuals to go with my words, they are just "stories" told around an outdoor campfire, when everyone else is sitting in on an indoor central apartment heating system ;p

Andy :)

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Happy Birthday, Fellow Humans!

Today (Feb 6.2014) marks the 7th Day of the Chinese Lunar New Year, which legend say is the day when all of mankind was born.

Apparently the day will be celebrated with a total of seven dishes to be had at dinner time, and everyone will come home for feasting - sorta like a "Post-CNY-Eve Reunion Dinner" - now a CNY Reunion Dinner? Not wholly sure about THAT, but it's a "tradition" I have come to embrace and have a part of my life now haha

Nevertheless, regardless of myth or fact for the day, Happy Birthday, Everyone!

Cheers :)

P/S: Apologies if my handwritten Chinese is not up to par hahaha

"Life" is what you hope it would be, Not a given you are meant to enjoy.

My blog and I were featured in the July 2010 issue of I.S. publication. I would be lying thru my teeth if I said I was not proud of that ~ *beams*

2010 was actually quite a good year, including being invited overseas for events too! All the years' effort of blogging had come to a head ... then "Stroke" happened ... These days I can no longer view or accept "success" in any form - as I had "pre-Stroke" - least I am denied it's fruits again. It may read/sound too "fatalistic" or even negative, but in that sense, it is what grounds me these days.

I used to have a distinct definition of what "success" was, and entailed, but now my views and expectations have been altered, and I (try to) accept things at face value. Whatever "original intents" or hidden agendas, remain for whomever to keep in their own pockets and store in their brains, while I have my own life to lead, and consequences to survive from.

"Life" is what you hope it would be, Not a given you are meant to enjoy. = is a mantra I keep close to my heart, now.

Cheers :)

P/S: Shout out to Anastasia Tan @zelciia for keeping the trades for me!

Things I Did In Life Before Blogging: Production Designed and Art Directed Feature Films

In my decade-or-so tenure in the local media industry, I had helmed six feature films - starting as an Art Director, and moving on up to the title of "Production Designer" as quickly. Funnily, in the Singaporean context, some folks in the industry think an A.D. held a position higher than a P.D. ("Director" sounds more lush than a "Designer" hahahaha).

So confusing were folks about the credit, I had also been introduced to students as a "Design Director" - a role that does not exist hahahaha or perhaps a literal mashup between a PD and an AD? ahahahahaha

My Interior Design background helped me assess functional space management, while whatever TV-designing I had experienced helped in navigating the visual language of films, but least folks take for granted, the language of film is wholly different as well, and I meant the traditional feature-film-film, not digital cameras of these days. When "Check Gate" meant another step to the end of the shot, and not "Cut" as digital recordings get switched off LOL

It is always an extremely welcomed challenge to receive an empty-space that needed to be made into a functional living and working space, and the way where depth and history is achieved, is more work than anyone ever realizes as they watch the big screen - but perhaps I am over romanticizing the roles and scopes of what needs to be done. I had since stopped these battles for a long time now.

There is a vast difference between aesthetics-based design and art direction, versus one meant for communicative or emotive intentions, and as well instant-gratification, and a long-lasting impression … but perhaps different strokes for different job applications, I guess, as people choose to blur the lines unknowingly and lay claim to whatever exists in the vacuum.

But hey, this is just my personal opinion, and I neither count myself as a 'genius' to quantify my claims, but neither am I a 'naive idiot' for languishing in false fame lol

Truth be told, doing a feature film soon became an 'addiction', where having the ability to do as many as possibly can, somewhat overshadowed a need to do "quality ones" - which saw me meeting more people than I should, and not being able to spend as much time crafting the film (as I would like/loved to), also because the filmmaking culture here is very inclusive of the above-the-line positions, versus the abilities of folks below being able to do their job - they are EXPECTED to, but not necessarily given the information in time, or nurtured to develop, IMHO.

I remember when the resurgence of local films popped up unto the horizon years back - I was helming 2 of the 4 movies being used as examples of the 'trend'. Hell yeh I was proud of myself! But with that inevitably came arrogance and perhaps a single-minded stubbornness to have things done my way (I darn not say I am a 'perfectionist', but perhaps I seldom give in to "substandard realities" lol). I reckon I lost a lot of "friends" while making films too...

I also remember looking at my IMDb-listings and smiling to myself for the effort. Look, folks don't get spectacularly paid for their work here in Singapore, so the value of being credited somehow becomes heightened, to make up for that fact. And even now, "credit" is extremely important to me (be it blogging or otherwise) and as well i try to sit thru the credit rolls for movies I watch - because that is the least I could do, for the folks who work on these films - especially local films tho LOL

I do miss the job sometimes, but frankly with the way I pushed myself and my life (and unfortunately my various crew who worked with me), I burnt myself out pretty quick.

These days I cannot watch a film or production, without having to think; "How did they get that set going?" or "How did they get that prop to work?" … I used to say; "Once Art Department, Always Art Department" - and that is no lie. "Career Sickness" (Zi2 Ye4 Ping4) as we call it. Yes, it is true. hah.

What I remember most about the 'work', was spending an extraordinarily amount of time trying to "convince" folks of the vision I was trying to achieve. And the amount of time solving logistical problems, by far outweighed my time in trying to squeeze the creative juices. Ironically in a field of moving visual medium, getting a whole lot of folks to "imagine" along with you and your schemes, is actually a daunting affair!

So I had to learn fast, to communicate 'visually', versus my abrasive language communications skills (I was a loud grump lol - don't think any of my team/s liked me much ;p). If I cant tell you what it looks like, I have to SHOW you what it looks like LOL

Shown here are various conceptual drawings of different films, which lead to the actual staged set for filming - things that most people do not get to see. Folks need to know it is not just about "filling up space", but also the management of colors and sensory effect, and that it is not just about "pretty props" on show, but the "story" they might tell of both themselves and their owners ... but I guess that is a point lost on most.

I could go on forever, but I tell myself not to these days. This is a side of my passion I keep at bay most times, as I do not want to regress into perpetuating negativity (I already battle the demon on other fronts, so I do not need more from my beleaguered past hahahaha). The irony being, I actually taught "filmmaking" subsequently! LOL

Andy :)