NTUC U Creative Summit – Lessons from the Creatives

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The U Creative Summit

By Jethro Wegener

The U Creative Summit, organised by NTUC and held on 11 November 2015, provided a platform for Singapore’s creative media professionals and interested students to share the ideas and draw insights from industry experts. The summit discussed different approaches for career progression, while also providing opportunities for networking to the young professionals who attended the talk, and were looking to get into the industry.

Three speakers graced the occasion for the summit, namely – local writer-director Lee Thean-Jeen, production designer Ian Bailie, and visual effects producer for Lucasfilm Ben Lock.

Lee Thean-Jean, director of local series like ‘The Singapore Short Story Project’ and ‘Zero Calling’, was the first to take the stage, sharing his journey from when he was a young boy who could only read about the films he loved so much, to the award-winning director that he is today. With witty and engaging tonality for his portion, according to him, the best way to get into the industry is to get your foot in the door any way that you can, even if the first job you have is as a runner, because it’ll open the door to the more interesting jobs further down the line. 

Next up was Ian Bailie’s, an accomplished production designer who has worked on big budget award winners like ‘Atonement’ as well as BBC productions like ‘The Borrowers’. His experiences working in production design in different countries, from the US to the UK to Singapore, provided the audience an insight to the various cultures and lessons that can be learnt, as well as from the angle of himself and what he learned from each of those places.

Of his work, he said that the most important lesson he could take away was to ensure the sets made help to enhance the story, and not detract from or dominate. Simply put, while some may consider what he do to be of lesser importance to a storyline, he doesn’t see what he do as being so. He also expressed great optimism at the film situation here in Singapore, saying that there is a wealth of talent and that industry giants like Hollywood are soon going to take notice. In his opinion, the local film industry is definitely on the rise.

Ben Lock, visual effects producer on Lucasfilms’ ‘Strange Magic’ as well as the highly anticipated ‘Stars Wars: The Force Awakens’ which opens soon in December, was the last to take the stage. Drawing on his knowledge of the visual effects industry, Lock shared his point of view of what life is like in his chosen profession. Despite it being a busy job that requires long hours and hard work, at the same time it was still an incredibly rewarding experience for those that stick with it.

A common theme among all three speakers was how important networking is, and how a big ego can lead to trouble down the road. If you’re interested in getting into any industry, you have to be humble and always willing to learn. Become a likeable person that anyone would be happy to work with, and you’ll find working getting into the business a lot easier.  

The event subsequently ended with a panel discussion, followed by a networking session where the audience were free to mingle with the speakers as they enjoyed a few drinks amidst the chatter and put to use what they had just learnt earlier.

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