Tzang Merwyn Tong (director of V1K1 + A Wicked Tale) launches a new Music Video Workshop for aspiring rock stars at Republic Polytechnic's Ignite Music Festival. The workshop designed by Tzang for Thunder Rock Music School hopes to empower musicians, Rock, Rap, Metal or Pop, with skills to shoot their own Music Videos, using whatever equipment they have, to create powerful videos.

Workshops will be held on the premises of Thunder Rock School, and is open to all bands and individuals (not restricted to RP). Participants will be mentored by Tzang to build their own MVs.

For more information on the Workshop, visit Thunder Rock School on facebook.com/thunderrockschool, or call 68416806, or email info@thunderrockschool.com
Photos by Thunder Rock.
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Back to the city where a Mid Sommer Night's Dream was born, V1K1 premiered at The Courtyard Theatre Hoxton to a full house crowd. This Poster placed at the entrance of the Theatre was stolen off the wall before midnight.
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In The Media
VIP Magazine Issue 2: Jun 2011

They stand at the fringe of the Art Establishment, sending messages to their audiences in voices that are as powerful as they are unique. Seven young artists provide Singapore with new, exciting ways to look at art.




MAGNIFICENT SEVEN
They’re young, talented and brimming with energy and promise. They are today’s iconoclasts but very likely tomorrow’s icons. By Tara Rushton.

My journey of exploration into the Singapore art scene is one of pure excitement. I meet up with artists to explore their lives and histories and how they used these to lay a foundation to their art. After days of research, phone calls, viewings, skype interviews and even trips to McDonalds, I felt exhausted yet incredibly proud to be living in a country that is the Mother of such creative minds. A country with a flourishing arts community is a country with an expressive society.

5. [TZANG MERWYN TONG]

Tzang Merwyn Tong started making films when he was 19. He had held a camera before, knew how to switch one on but that was it. It was a passion inside him – or what he calls a ‘reckless desire’ – to tell stories that made him pursue it. His first feature film e'Tzaintes, based on teenage misfits living in a fictional world dealt heavily with adolescent issues of belonging, won him various film awards.

Even at nineteen, Tzang was already creating a dialogue that had audiences relating and sympathizing with the protagonists of his films. His stories come from a personal place: “We all have our own little misfit stories.” Tzang followed his debut film with A Wicked Tale – a dark take on Little Red Riding Hood – before changing tack and shooting his first sci-fi film titled V1K1. Tzang has a cult following from audiences who are drawn by unconventional themes and genres that are meshed together in his films.

Tzang is aware that he is working against the grain and not moulding to the formulaic films that attract the most commercial success such as horror and comedy. But he remains ambitious. “I want to offer something different. I’m an artist with a desire to break some new ground. It’s difficult for me as well but it keeps me alive.”

His next project is titled FRVL and he describes it as “Fight Club-meets-Romeo and Juliet’, Again this film delves into issues of rebellion and self-expression amongst teens. Tzang tries to become a pioneer within a system he believes is afraid of being pioneering. By no means is he bitter that an underground or indie film culture is non-existent in Singapore.
He just hopes he can push for a little change. “I hope I can inspire more people to do something different.”

Other Featured Artists
1. Swee Boon: Dancer and Choreographer
2. Kevin Ou: Photographer
3. Jackson Tan: Phunk Studio
4. Traseone: Grafitti Artist
5. Tzang Merwyn Tong: Independent Filmmaker
6. Robert Zhao: Artist/Scientist
7. Stefen Chow: Photographer
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If you’re looking for consistently unconventional short films in Singapore, look no further than the works of Tzang Merwyn Tong, who throws up non-formulaic tales that fuses fairy tales with edgy punk and heavy techno influences concocting a strange amalgamation of genres that always somehow click and work wonders. Known for e'TZAINTES and A Wicked Tale, the latter which took on Red Riding Hood in more adult terms before Catherine Hardwicke's came along, Tzang embarks on yet another tech-influenced project this time with students from a local Institute of Technical Education.

As such, while the film undeniably has Tzang’s signature treatment all over it, the execution though did come off more as a student project to allow his largely student crew a first hand experience in making a film, never shying away from dabbling with special effects that worked in some moments, while others did come off as slightly raw. But no venture no gain, and hopefully Tzang did manage to influence some of the students to further explore the technical competencies required in filmmaking, and hopefully we do see a fresh crop of graduates skilled in both the art and science of genre and fantasy filmmaking as the years move along, possessing no fear in tapping onto their imagination to tell stories.

And a fantasy sci-fi story this is, with a group of what’s termed as Fairies of Misfortune having to spend time on earth as self-proclaimed agents of change, possessing supernatural powers that remained under wraps until an action filled final act. In the meantime you get plenty of philosophical talk between Fairies, and a scientist who had captured one of them for further research, the former who unwittingly discovers a weak point in the chinks of the Fairies’ armour that provides for an upper hand in negotiations, or so he thought. Ah, the follies of the human being.

In some ways this short film also served as a showreel of sorts to demonstrate the raw energy that the ITE students bring to the table. Granted not all aspects of this film is as polished as Tzang’s earlier works, but you’d realize that perhaps one of the best and more direct ways of learning is to walk the talk. And at times I felt the techno-babble came on a little too strong for the actors to grasp, that their rote memorizing of lines unfortunately rang through to take some shine off their performances. But it more than made up for it with some incredible VFX stunt sequences for a modestly budgeted film.

Still, for its objectives set forth, V1K1 managed to have the Tzang rubber stamp in concocting a tale of the unconventionally engaging, and one wonders just how different this would have turned out with if the writer-director had a much larger budget at hand. For those who are keen to catch this, you can do so this Thursday at Sinema Old School, and details of the encore screening can be found
here. - Stefan S.


About the Reviewer: Stefan S. is a Singapore based film buff and a keen supporter of Singapore films good and bad. He has been writing about Singapore Cinema and Singapore film-related activities since 2005. He is also a contributing writer at movieXclusive.com, TwitchFilm.net, and Sinema.sg.

Taken from: http://anutshellreview.blogspot.com/2011/04/v1k1-techno-fairytale.html
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Part of a new breed of Singapore filmmakers, the alternative film director Tzang Merwyn Tong tells F*** about his vision and his latest sci-fi project, V1K1 – A Techno Fairytale.

By Lisa Twang


Excerpt: How did the V1K1 film project come about?

As an adjunct lecturer at ITE College West, I was approached to direct a short film using a student crew from the Digital Audio Video Production course. We called ourselves the Dreammakers Lab. The goal was to introduce the first-time movie-making experience to these students, and inspire them with the process. But it was these students who ended up inspiring me. Their energy and enthusiasm was highly infectious, and although many of them were touching equipment for the first time, we made a wonderful film that we’re all very proud of.

How would you describe your audience?

Brave, intelligent and curious. Brave and curious because it takes wonder and courage to buy a ticket or DVD for something outside the mainstream; and intelligent, because my films tend to ask questions, that requires the audience to do a bit of thinking themselves!

In your first film, e’Tzaintes, you played a character named W. Ashe Faeke; a makeup-wearing, poetry-spouting goth prophet. Is he your alter ego?

As Faeke, I’m a social outcast trying to rally other misfits into my “world of nonsense and whatever.” I suppose I do share his illusions of grandeur; I believe you have to be somewhat delusional to stay passionate about something. But in reality, I’m a lot less flamboyant than Faeke; I’m actually quite a shy person.

Also, I am not an anarchist at all, but a pacifist! My new film, the FRVL project, is essentially a critique on rebellion. It questions a generation of teenage idealists and activists, and it’s very ambitious. It’s something I’m working very hard to get off the ground, and I’m looking for brave souls who understand it and are willing to invest in it.

As a filmmaker, what is your greatest fear?

Passion. The truth is, I’m worried sometimes that I will be consumed by the films I make. I always put in 200% of what I have; so much that I lose myself completely. It’s something I have to be careful of as a responsible human being. When passion takes over over, I’m afraid I will lose it all by sacrificing myself and real things that are important to me.


V1K1 opens at Sinema Old School 21st April 2011. Pre bookings of tickets can be made here through tix.sinema.sg, You may RSVP on facebook too.


For the full article, read the April 2011 Issue of F*** Magazine.
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Sunday, February 13, 2011 at 8:13 AM | 0 comments  


SINdie - Singapore Independent Films Only talks to Tzang Merwyn Tong on his inspiration for Indie Sci Fi V1K1. Click here for the full article. Includes never-before-released images from the upcoming movie. Not quite what you expect of a Singapore film, I know.

Read it here: http://sindieonly.blogspot.com/2011/02/production-talk-v1k1-by-merwyn-tzang.html (Special thanks to the SINdie team)


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Brave New Asian arthouse film-makers take on the Box Office, reports Dylan Tan


It's been 13 years since an Asian film has won the prestigious award and its director Apichatpong Weerasethakul, who will be in town over the weekend for a charity screening of his movie and to conduct a masterclass, is the first independent filmmaker from his country to receive the honour.

'The indie film-making scene in South-east Asia has been thriving which is evidenced by the strong presence of independent films from the region in the programmes of international film festivals,' notes Karen Chan, acting director of Asian Film Archive, a non-governmental and non-profit organisation founded to preserve the film heritage of Singapore and Asian cinema.
'This is particularly so in the past five years; South-east Asian film-makers have been recognised for pushing the boundaries of film-making, imbuing cinema with refreshingly unique voices and vision,' she says, adding Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia have all made a major impact on the arthouse scene in recent years.

Chan also notes Weerasethakul's win comes hot on the heels of another Asian film-maker, Filipino Brillante Mendoza, who picked up the Best Director award last year for his movie Kinatay.

'Having attended film festivals around the region, I've noticed a lot of new indie film-makers creating good works,' says Thomas Chia, director of Lighthouse Pictures, which has been distributing arthouse films from all over the world here and in the region since 2003.

Like Chan, he too cites Indonesian and Thai indie cinemas as the ones to watch out for. There's a general consensus among industry players that the appeal and following of art films is getting stronger in Singapore.

Local art film buff Norman Loong says, 'Compared to mainstream cinema, indie films are more exciting; no two films are alike, the storylines are always original and th
e makers don't rely on sequels, remakes or gimmicks like 3-D to sell.'


The growth is also evident from the number of screens now dedicated to art films.
From just one venue in 1997 when The Picturehouse launched, there are now other speciality halls of various sizes like Sinema Old School, Cinema Europa and The Arts House that screen indie movies on a regular basis.

'The Picturehouse has always held a special interest in Asian art films especially since we are the first theatre in Asia to dedicate an entire hall to arthouse cinema,' says its spokesman. 'We believe some of the best films in the world do come from Asia.' Among some of The Picturehouse's upcoming attractions are Anh Hung Tran's highly acclaimed big screen adaptation of Haruki Murakami's novel Norwegian Wood and Hindi film Road, Movie.
'Singapore audiences have become more refined and sophisticated in their taste; many regional indie film-makers have premiered their works at the Singapore International Film Festival,' observes Chan.

'Lighthouse has come to be Singapore's 'home' for Takeshi Kitano's films,' says Chia, referring to how well-received the Japanese actor-writer-director's works, including last year's Outrage, have been. Negotiations for its sequel to be screened here later this year are on the cards, he reveals. '(The late Malaysian director) Yasmin Ahmad's Muallaf was also a success in 2009 but it did not come easy as the film-maker and I had to put in a lot of effort to promote the film in the virtual and real worlds,' Chia adds.

Such is the difficulty indie film-makers in general face when trying to make their movies on a shoestring budget, then trying to promote them with little or no money.
The problem is worse for Asian independent directors because the audience base is not big enough to sustain an already niche genre.

Gathering momentum: HK's Derek Tsang co-directed Lover's Discourse (above left, starring Kit Chan and above right, Jackie Heung and Mavis Fan), which earned its stripes premiering at the Pusan Film Festival and travelling the promotions circuit before recently opening on general release in Asia.

'Every time I release a movie, I lose money because of the advertising and promotions, so I'm not sure if it's worth it, even though I would love to show it at home', Unce Boonmee's Weerasethakul tells The Hollywood Reporter.

'The population of Hong Kong is not like the St
ates,' says Derek Tsang, co-director of Lover's Discourse, a low-key Chinese ensemble movie that earned its stripes premiering at the Pusan Film Festival and travelling the circuit before recently opening on general release in Asia.'People who make indie films in Hong Kong do it on a very, very low budget and even then you don't get a lot of your money back,' he adds.

Citing the example of Wong Kar Wai as an exception, Tsang explains, 'There's a misconception people have about Wong; he's an artist first but he's also a very smart businessman. His market is different from a lot of other Chinese directors because his films get released in a lot of different places in Europe and he makes a lot of money from there.'
Others like local underground director Tzang Merwyn Tong says independent film-makers remain at the mercy of the gatekeepers - distributors, exhibitors, censorship regulators and festival programmers.

'Being an independent film-maker is really about a spirit; it can be heartbreaking trying to make your way through a world that will give you more reasons to give up than continue,' he says.

Tzang, however, beat the odds and enjoyed worldwide success with his movie A Wicked Tale, simply by giving it away.

'The movie took a life of its own after I allowed a group of German teenagers to screen my films in their underground film festival. It became a little bit of a surprise hit, with audiences asking for copies to bootleg it. I gave them permission to do whatever they wanted, and before I knew it, different groups of people were screening it to different audiences in pubs, clubs, house parties and venues, in Berlin, Potsdam, Munich and Frankfurt,' reveals Tzang.

'A Wicked Tale then travelled to Canada, with tickets sold out to a full house crowd as the Closing Night Film in Montreal FanTasia - the festival that first introduced (Japanese horror movie) The Ring to western audiences. And then somehow it found its way to Toronto, Lund, Leeds and Tel Aviv through small screenings organied by groups of people I don't even know,' he adds.

ASIAN arthouse cinema found itself in the international spotlight when Thai film Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, picked up the Palme d'Or at last year's Cannes Film Festival.

Similarly, Malaysian-born, Singapore-based director Lee Thean-Jeen foresees a changing landscape for indie films in the way they're made, marketed and screened, due to new media as well as former arthouse directors like Michel Gondry and Jiang Wen moving towards commercial films with The Green Hornet and Let The Bullets Fly respectively.

'Film-makers like David Lynch are making movies and posting it on YouTube or their own websites so a lot of people who used to go to cinemas for art films are getting them from other sources instead,' he says. 'The game for film-makers now is not whether you want to be arthouse or commercial anymore; it's how you want to tell a good story and where you want to find that audience.'

'I've learnt that a film with its heart in the right place will somehow find its rightful audience,' says Tzang. 'You just got to be rock 'n' roll about it.'

The Singapore Premiere and charity screening of Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (with director Apichatpong Weerasethakul chairing a discussion ) take places tomorrow, 7pm at Cathay Cineplex. For tickets and more information on Asian Film Archive and Weerasethakul's masterclass on Monday, click on www.asianfilmarchive.org. Lover's Discourse is now screening exclusively at Cathay's Cineleisure Orchard and AMK Hub. Copyright © 2010 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. All rights reserved.


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