The chance for an education.

I’ve always seen Creative COW as a hugely popular information source and discussion venue for all things film and media. Apart from it being reliable, it’s always had a vibrant community. Now there’s 1 reason to like them even more – The Creative COW Foundation.

Launching this April, the Creative COW Foundation will be helping deserving film and media students cover the costs of their educations, not just in the US, but around the world. Fantastic. (see full article on their newsletter)

As a scholarship recipient myself, I know how much of an impact they make on a student’s life. These opportunities open HUGE doors. I remember receiving an email a year ago about Grace Teng, a Singaporean girl who was so determined to study film in NYU, she started her own fundraising campaign and website to raise money. Through her site called ‘Dreaming Big’ she introduced herself as an “amatuer filmmaker and future NYU undergraduate film student”. She knew she was going to make it happen. The money, she hoped, would come from selling her short films on DVDs and appealing for donations.

I don’t know how her campaign’s going today, but I remember being moved by her fierce determination. Not many youths know deep in their guts exactly what they want to do, let alone work so hard to pursue it. Those who do deserve a shot at it. There is no way I would have been able to get the solid education I did at Northwestern if it weren’t for Ngee Ann Kongsi and the Media Development Authority of Singapore. Seeing Grace’s story, I understood the need for funds and I understood that burning passion. So it was really frustrating for me that there was little I could do to help her out at that time.

That’s why I’m so excited for this. Here’s to more foundations funding education like this. I’d love to see more students, like Grace, being enabled to get that education they so deserve and desire.

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Dreaming our own dreams.

When I chose to pursue documentary film making, I knew I wasn’t going to have it easy. Especially coming from a traditional Asian culture where parents dream for their kids to become doctors and lawyers. An environment where I was often told not to spend so much of my time on art because “maths and science is more important”. A place where uncles and aunts frown in skepticism upon hearing my dreams because such careers “have no future”. And a country where locally produced content has played second fiddle to the supposedly better content from overseas for years.

I’ve heard the testimonials. “If your goal is to get rich, then film making isn’t the path you should take.”  I’ve heard the warnings. “How’re you going to put food on the table?” I’ve heard the attempts to persuade me to try something else. “Earn a stable income with a proper job first. You can always use your extra funds to do whatever you like later!”

But i stand by what Jacqueline Novogratz says in her book, The Blue Sweater:

“I argued that you had to start early, understand how change happens, and build relationships and credibility over a long period… I had to be who I was, not someone else until I made enough money to come home to myself.”

Yep, I’m stubborn. And I’m paying the price. I’m sitting here as a recent grad from one of the best colleges in the country, and I am struggling to make ends meet. I thought that I’d just have to work really hard, impress my bosses, and everything would take care of itself. I succeeded with the working hard. My bosses love me and want me to carry on working with them. It’s the getting paid part that isn’t quite happening.

So what do you do then? What happens when you love what you do, and love the mission and values that your content represents, but it won’t pay the rent? If this is what I’m facing here in America, the birthplace of cinema, what will my future hold when I return to Singapore, where the film industry is still in its infancy?

Well, I’ve been told that to predict the future, you’ve gotta create it. It’s a scary and unpredictable road ahead, but I fear not, for I’m blessed to have the support of family and friends. A few bumps on the road ain’t gonna stop me now. Positive social change through film can happen in Singapore. I’ll make it work, somehow.

And when I need a little dose of inspiration, I take in the words of Singapore’s pioneers in film and hope to speak among them one day. Will I have your support?


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