The inspiration for my film? Erasers

NOSTALGIC: Kenny Tan's short film, Priceless, is about a boy who is reprimanded for getting into a fight over an eraser bearing the Singapore flag. It won the top prize in the ciNE65 competition.


    Jul 24, 2013

    The inspiration for my film? Erasers

    A short film inspired by a childhood eraser game clinched the top prize at the award ceremony of the biennial ciNE65 short-film competition, held at Golden Village Grand in Great World City on July 9.

    Visual director Kenny Tan, 30, won Overall Best Film and Best Screenplay for his short film, Priceless, a story set in the 1980s about a boy who is reprimanded for getting into a fight over an eraser with the Singapore flag printed on it.

    He speaks to My Paper about coming up with the short film on national identity.

    Why do a film about erasers?

    Country Erasers, or what Singaporeans like to call "rubber", was a popular game we used to play as kids in school in the 1980s and 1990s.

    The eraser which had the Singapore flag printed on it was one of the most valuable pieces, and the instinct to protect and value it came to us naturally, even though we did not have much understanding about nationalistic values and had yet to go through national service at the time.

    I wanted to explore that innocent yet powerful idea in my film, as a reminder to Singaporeans who have since grown up.

    What was it like growing up in the 1980s?

    I was a typical Singaporean kid who lived in a Housing Board flat and went to a neighbourhood school.

    Life was very much analogue and tangible back then. We met friends at the usual time and place every day, and even had secret hideouts.

    We created our own games with whatever we had during recess and after school.

    How long did it take to film Priceless?

    It took me around two weeks to brainstorm, finalise the concept and develop a script that I was confident in and comfortable with.

    I was very fortunate to be able to put together a crew - all of whom volunteered their time and resources to help me out with this project - at the last minute.

    The actual filming took only half a day.

    Were there any challenges?

    I think the biggest challenge for me was the brainstorming and conceptualisation stages.

    I wanted the film to be subtle and poignant, yet relatable to Singaporeans.

    At the same time, I had to fulfil the requirements of the competition, which were to convey a strong message based on the theme "I'll Be There For You, Singapore", tell a story and evoke an emotional response from the audience… All within three minutes.

    Where do you get your inspiration?

    I get a lot of my inspiration from observing current affairs and trends, be it stories in the papers, online blogs, people ranting on social media or random uncles chatting at kopitiams.

    Inspiration for stories is always around, and some of it can spark some really great ideas.

    What will you do with the $3,000 cash prize?

    I intend to invest the cash prize as seed funding to develop my next short-film project.