When I first watched Vengeance is Mine, it came across as a deliciously campy, over-the-top psycho-thriller leaning on the edge of a slasher flick Singapore-style. I won’t spoil it for you but suffice to say it had blood splatter in all the right places. It was dark, it was fun, it was gripping and it held my attention right to the end.
As a film then, this succeeded in its intent to tell a good story. But this was no ordinary Hollywood B-grade. The short 20-minute film was made by a motley crew of film students from the School of Design’s Digital Film & Television course for their final-year project.
But clearly I was not the only one gripped by the film.
Vengeance is Mine went on to win the Best Editing Award at the National Youth Film Awards last year. Then earlier this year, it became the only Singaporean student film to win a finalist position at the prestigious New York Festivals of Film & Television. Recently, it won gold at the 18th Digicon 6 Awards. It will go on to compete in Tokyo against other international shorts.
The awards keep coming and we at the School of Design are thrilled for this group of students, now alumni of the Digital Film & Television course.
Andrew Ngin, lecturer in the Digital Film and Television course, recounted the high points of the journey the little film that could.
“First, the script went through more than twenty drafts. Half the script was tossed out and had to be reworked when the students were doing their internship. When the script was finally approved, the production presented several challenges.
They had to shoot at night. They had to build coffins. They had to find a basement and it is very hard to find one in Singapore. But they managed to create the illusion of a basement.
What makes the wins even sweeter was that this group had never done such a thriller before. In every monster movie, you have a gathering of “unlikely candidates” to fight the beast. And this beast was this thriller. And this group could not get more unlikely.
Siti the director is the most cheerful and bubbly director ever to shoot a story that featured severed fingers. And the girls in this group, when they were doing location recce, scared themselves silly each time they heard leaves rustle behind them, and this was during day time. And yet they went ahead, overcame their fears, and shot all those night scenes in an abandoned military camp. Every obstacle thrown in their way never cracked the shield of their good humor. Every time I demanded a rewrite, they came back the next day with a new script with all the changes done. Sometimes even on the very same night. They faced every production challenge squarely and took it on, never backing down. Short of a tsunami, nothing was able to sweep away their resolve to bring their script to life. And remember, these students were not technical wizards. But what they didn’t know, they asked, researched, tested, and learnt.
Maria the editor, is a very quiet and shy girl who is the last person you expect to be able to cut a gripping “torture” scene, but she did, with panache.
This group, with their “never say die” attitude that took them through the storm of reshoots and pick-ups, is deserving of their win and even if they didn’t, in my heart, they are winners many times already.”
Vengeance is Mine is scripted, directed, produced, shot and edited by Siti Rahimah Binte Mohamed Idris, Nur Shahira Bte Kamairudin, Joycelyn Yeoh Xing Yen, Rahmat Matin Akmal Bin Mohd Kamal and Maria Angelyn Tan.
Watch it here on: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=312DvdpWt-g