The Ground Up: a short film project on Singapore during the 70s-90s

The Ground Up is a film project which features 15 short films that seeks to uncover the lost and untold stories of Singapore’s philanthropic spirit in the nation building years. In the spirit of giving, this project aims to remind Singaporeans of our inherent compassion and inclusive heart. These stories will be slated for release on both traditional and online platforms, progressively over the next 18 months till the end of 2018.

Dubbed as the “Hungry Years”, it focuses on Singapore’s history in the early 70’s to 90’s, which was littered with grand tales of sweat and grit. They were mostly recounted in broad strokes that revolved around overcoming arduous challenges like bread and butter issues and solving nation building problems. These stories often highlighted the selfless and sacrificial spirit of the general population.

As such, this project was birthed with the intent of retelling these tales but from the perspective of regular and ordinary individuals; and to provide an alternate narrative to the “Hungry Years” when people were not wholly striving to make a living but also thriving as humans.

Daniel Yun, one of the founders of the project and a veteran film producer in Singapore, puts it simply, “the heroic and celebratory…(stories) have already been covered but what about (stories about) the ordinary people about their personal beliefs and even about being politically incorrect?”

The Ground Up features an assembly of local filmmakers from highly-acclaimed veterans like Kelvin Tong who became the first Singaporean director to helm a Hollywood horror film, “The Faith of Anna Waters” (released in 2016) to young aspiring filmmakers like the man behind “Butterworks”, Chong Yu Lun, who has gathered a strong following of 80,0000 subscribers and over 9 million views.

Other notable moviemakers include Eric Khoo (Mee Pok Man, 23:59), Boo Junfeng (Apprentice), Kirsten Tang (Pop Aye), and Youtuber Jianhao Tan.

As such, it has the potential to present a collection of stories that can transcend ethnicity and age, thereby effectively engaging the young and old. Each film will run for 5 to 10 minutes and will be curated from an array of archival sources or from filmmakers themselves. The first short film by Sean Ng is slated for release in June.

Chong Yu Lun, being one of the youngest filmmakers in the community, expressed his concern of having to present history in a new light while having do so vicariously. He was however, prompt in reminding the public that “inspiration is timeless”. Moreover, he seems to be encouraged by the observation that Singaporeans are increasingly nostalgic and sentimental which he singled out as an effect of the “fast-paced and frantic” lifestyles many live today.

For more on the Ground Up, check here.

Written by Jiaeenn Tay.