The meta-narrative surrounding the film Faeryville is part of the film, right?
If its aim is to be alternative and intellectualised, it is overachieving at the moment.
No government funding, no corporate sponsorship and no product placements. And therefore, this makes it unorthodox and inventive because it doesn’t owe anyone a living and can afford to have a lot of things going on in it.
It is not your typical weekend fare, where you sit around and feel tickled watching it. But it does contain a bit of lesbionics to keep things interesting.
It, therefore, will not shy away when confronted with criticisms because authenticity is what will carry this film through.
And with that lofty ambition in the bag, it can fly the flag of alternative cinema in Singapore.
So, there you have it, the meta-narrative of Faeryville that has grown bigger than what the film is about, because that’s part of the point, right?
To add on to this meta-narrative, we sent Tong some questions and here are his responses:
1. What’s the story behind making this movie?
Faeryville is inspired by how the world is becoming an increasingly surreal place. Nothing is right or wrong anymore, just how you choose to intellectualise it. I wonder what it is like growing up in the Post 9/11 world, without these bearings, with misinformation everywhere.
Has youthful idealism become a dangerous thing? I thought it was an exciting concept to build a script around it, and to set it in the world of teenagers. Not set it in Singapore, or in the real world, but in Faeryville College, a hyper-real alternate-universe that exists in the heads of young people. With parties. Fraternities. Losers. Bullies. Graffiti. And guns.
2. How long did it take to make this movie?
It took me approximately eight years. Faeryville has been in development since 2006. It was code-named The FRVL Project. Then in 2007, I decided to quit my job to work on this full-time and try to raise funds for it. I managed to sustain myself with freelance jobs, but my mind has always been made up to get this film made, in the way I envisioned it. Partners came in and came out, due to the size of this project. Many felt that the themes were too heavy for sponsors to want to be part of. Many advised me not to make this film.
I was told that for something to be marketable, it needs to have elements of familiarity. Like stars. Like an adaptation. Either that, or go for themes that sell, like horror or comedy. I appreciated their feedback. But I thought I should just be true to myself, and make the film I started out to make, not worry whether the market is ready or not.
3. How much did it cost to make?
I prefer not to talk about budget.
4. What’s the one lesson you learnt making films?
Filmmaking helps me to understand my own life, helps me to discover myself, and learn about what makes and breaks me.
Let’s put it in perspective, because this is not commissioned work. You’re not doing it because you have to. Or because someone is paying you. You question yourself more. Why do you want to waste your time, your life and your youth, on film like Faeryville? Is this film so important to make?
I started the project because I had something to say to begin with. Along the way, what I want to say was to brought to life in ways beyond my individual ability, by the work of actors, my cinematographer, my makeup team, my crew and my art department. And suddenly, it’s no longer my project anymore. Faeryville becomes the work of a collective, and as director, I owe it to everyone who has put in energy in it, to complete it, and finish it well, regardless of how long it takes.
5. Is there more pressure to be commercially successful or keeping to your artistic vision?
I try not to be too caught up with trying to be commercially successful. It clouds your perspective, and puts you in the wrong frame of mind to get good work done. My priority is, first, to make an honest and authentic film, about coming-of-age in an increasingly surreal world. The pressure is very much to make the film as I envisioned it to be. I am more worried about failing myself. I believe that the money will come, when the film translates to something that audiences can relate to and understand.
FAERYVILLE | M18 (mature content) | 97 minutes, will have a limited Theatrical Release in Singapore, exclusively at Filmgarde Bugis+ from 26 May 2015.
Prebook Your Tickets here: www.fgcineplex.com.sg
29 May 2015 – 7.15 pm – available now
31 May 2015 – 2.40pm – available now
3 June 2015 – 7.15 pm – available now
7 June 2015 – 2.40 pm – available now