Somewhere to Us – Home

How I approached the theme “Home” was through the way it connected 2 childhood friends and their journey home. In my short film “Somewhere To Us”, we follow Paul & Sam who are stuck waiting at the bus stop after a Halloween Party, this situation gives Paul a chance to tell Sam things he was previously not able to.

After the pitching process, I began working on my screenplay for a short film titled “Somewhere to Us” under the theme of “Home”.


Once that was done, I started the audition process. Firstly by posting an open casting call to invite actors & actresses to audition for the role of Paul & Sam in my short film.

I auditioned about 20 people in total for the roles, it was a long process but I finally managed to lock down on my talents, Shaun & Rebecca.

It was quite an interesting story as I almost didn’t call in Rebecca when she emailed her CV as I felt she didn’t look the part of the role I was going for. But in the end, she blew us away during the audition & was definitely a great choice for the role.

Some screengrabs from their audition clips.

Location recce & test shots

I went out at 2am on a weekday to recce the location. It was just outside of school & would be convenient for us to transport the cast & crew there during the shoot day. Also, it was relatively empty and had a big road in front it with little cars which were ideal for the shoot.

BTS from the location recce.

Test footage stills

We shot some test footage as well so I could try colour grading it after to see what picture profile would be the most ideal to shoot in for the low light conditions we were faced with.

Script read

I got the talents down again once more for a script read as well to let them try out the costumes for the shoot. The panda suit was kindly loaned to me by Kylen & I ordered the space suit online.

Shot list

As it got closer to the shoot date, I started work on the shot list & callsheet.

I had 2 shoot dates. 1 was the main overnight shoot & the other was a short scene that takes place in the early hours of the morning. I sent it to my cast & then came production day!


BTS shots of the production of “Somewhere To Us”

One of the main challenges on set was sound, as the roads had cars occasionally driving by even in the wee hours of the night. We had to pause in between takes to allow cars to pass before continuing.

To make things harder, there were a people doing sticking their heads out of a van that was doing joyrides around the road we were shooting on, also a couple of ah bengs who were fighting on the opposite side because their e-scooters broke down.

Another scene which was a challenge to shoot was the dance scene, as the first shot was a 1 take continous shot, we had to shift all our production stuff into the car which was driven far behind to be hidden from the set. Also, cars were driving by, and safety for my cast & crew was an important thing to be wary of.

All These Sleepness Nights (2016)

The way we shot the dance scene was inspired by this Polish film called “All These Sleepness Nights” recommended to me by a friend just before we began production. I showed it to my DP and it was through that how we planned & choreographed that single take first shot.

But all in all, we got the shots we needed and wrapped on time!


Some stills from the film

Keeping to the duration of the assignment was a challenge as the film had a lot of dialogue and silent moments that I wanted to keep to create the sense of awkwardness between the 2 characters.

But thankfully, with the feedback from friends & Nicole, I trimmed out dialogue that didn’t move the story forward & still allowed some leeway for the awkward silences in between, while still keeping the rhythm & pace I wanted for this film.

Even before the shoot began, I already had a song planned in mind to use for the dance scene, we actually even had the people who came to audition dance to that song. I initially reached out to a composer whom I’ve worked with previously to try to recreate a similar tune of that song. But due to my own budget constraints, I reached out to the band & their manager via email & they were kind enough to allow me permission to use the song in the film! And with that, we shot the scene while playing that song in the background so the actors could feel the mood & tune of that song in the location itself.

I Don’t Know You – The Marias was used for the dance scene

Also for the end-credits music, I reached out to another band who also allowed me the usage of their song. It was quite a fortunate outcome as I couldn’t have imagined using another song for these 2 scenes. And the lyrics of these 2 songs do provide a sense of meaning for the story between the 2 characters as well.

We’re Not Just Friends – Parks, Squares and Alleys for the ending scene.

I was happy with the way the film turned out & in particular the pivotal dance scene between the 2 characters!

Final Thoughts

It was a challenging lead up to the production of this film as I was stuck with coming up with an idea even before the pitch.

Initially, I didn’t want to do a romantic-dramedy type film again as it was something I did enjoy doing but have done before. I was trying to go for something different instead of something so conversation-driven. Personally, I felt the addition of other elements in the film helped to make it more distinct and different from just your usual romantic-comedy & I was happy with the result.

With the support of my friends who provided me with so much feedback & encouragement along the way, it allowed me to push through & create this film that I am happy with.

This Way Up – a 7 shot narrative

For project 1, we were tasked to create a short film told with only 7 shots under the  theme “the seen & the unseen”.

Due to the limitations of shots, how I approached to best tell this story was to set limitations for myself.

These 2 things were set in mind before I even began pre-production, which was to keep the film within a single location & following only a single character.


I first came across this lift by chance in an industrial area & knew I wanted to use it as the location for this film. I figured having an unsuspecting character trapped within the confinements of this space would be something interesting to explore.

The character I came up with was a deliveryman who unluckily gets stuck in the lift while making a delivery. The genre I was trying to go for was a bit more towards something like a dark-comedy. But those are the hardest things to write.

However coming up with what happens next was the trickiest process, I spent a long stressful time trying to figure this out. But, long story short, I discussed the idea with a group of friends & bouncing ideas off each other definitely helped to come up with the idea you see in the film.

The key point that we made in the discussion was to play on the words ‘this way up’, as that was what is normally printed on the front of parcels as to avoid damaging the contents.

Placing that in the context of the lift, I figured it would parallel how the lift is also going up. Which led me to the final idea of the box being a controller for the lift.


The script for the film was fairly simple, just a 2 page script of what happens in the film.

Location recce & test shots

I headed back down to the location to have a look at the lighting & the space. I also shot some test stills to understand the limitations of the space & to know what lenses to use for certain shots.

Test shots

Backup location

But as with every production, unfortunately after emailing the management of the building, they did not allow me to use this location for the shoot & I sourced for a backup location.

I planned to go forward with the shoot at the 1st location done in secret from the security & only kept this one as the backup location. I tried as much as possible to avoid using the backup location as it didn’t really suit the look I was trying to go for. (More on that during production)

Shot list

This was my shot list consisting of the 7 shots, it was crucial to have each shot progress the story due to it’s limitation.

My main challenge was the opening shot which I wanted it to be a 1 take shot introducing the character as well as setting up his predicament.

From a story point of view, the 1 take also symbolises the smooth-sailing unsuspecting deliveryman as he journeys into this magical lift. The first cut only happens when he trips over the box which sets things in motion.

Other considerations were also having the actor physically mimic the lift stopping shake in camera so that the stopping of the lift could be added later on in post-production.

One exception was my 3rd shot, I did 2 variations of the same shot, one handheld & the other, a still shot. This was in case I needed to add a digital camera shake in post.


I was initially going to do casting for this film, but it was quite fortunate that a classmate of mine worked with my lead actor, Christopher before.

I’ve seen Christopher’s previous work & he has also auditioned for a previous film of mine before. I knew he could convey the mannerisms & expressions of the character with no dialogue & would be a great fit for the role.

Fortunately it all worked out as he was free during the production dates & was interested in the story as well.

We met a couple days before the shoot for a rehearsal & also just getting to know each other better.

Production design

The box was crucial to this story, I had to find the perfect sized box as well as the little details that went on it, especially the ‘UP’ label. I designed a specific label for it to be placed onto the box, having it blend in with the box but at the same time being noticeable enough for the story.

Prepping the stencil to spray paint on to the box

Some fake labels which I created & printed on to sticker paper

Final box


Production day was tricky! My plan was to shoot in secret while not alerting the security, I made sure the crew that came to the location did not sign in with the guards so as to not alert them.

I also specifically told my cast to wait outside the building & I would fetch him to bring him into the building.

But as with Murphy’s law, things that went wrong, went wrong. My cast ended up talking to the guards while waiting & revealed to them that we were shooting today & the guards wanted to confirm with the management whether we were allowed to shoot there.

I spent an hour trying to convince them to allow us to shoot there, but they rejected all our requests.

I initially felt a bit defeated & exhausted from trying to convince them, but my crew & I packed our stuff & headed over to our backup location.

We were supposed to start at 8pm & end around 12am. But we reached our 2nd location at 1030pm, started the setup & began the shoot at 11pm.

Production BTS

But thankfully, we managed to wrap the shoot by 1:30am. Only taking about 2 & a half hours to finish shooting as compared to my planned timing on the callsheet which was about 4 hours.

Extremely grateful to my amazing team which really came through for me & for giving me tons of moral support I needed especially when things went wrong. Also for the quick setup & assisting me wherever needed.

The change in location also ended up being a blessing in disguise as the padding of this lift helped create an environment that looks similar to the inside of a box. Also, since this location had no security, I was free to shoot here as long as I needed & had more time to do more takes & rehearsing with regards to how he plays with the box.

Since I was directing & shooting this film, this allowed me to also have more time to frame better while rehearsing at the same time.

Kiwiduck films!

Shots breakdown

Shot #1:

For the first shot, it was a continuous long tracking shot which I used to establish a couple of things.

One was the character & him entering the lift, secondly was when we show the box which the audience may or may not take notice of, thirdly was when he places the box down & the lift stops, lastly was when he shouts for help & steps back.

Shot #2:

This is when the character tips over the box, I used a single shot for this to place emphasis on the box.

Shot #3:

The 3rd shot was to show the effects of the lift when the box is out of the character’s hand. I ended up using the handheld version of the shot as it felt more natural & the movement matched the character’s.

Shot #4:

The 4th shot was the moment of messing around & discovery of how the box works & relates to the lift. I had to let this shot play out for a bit as I wanted it to have this comedic element to it & also to control the pacing of the film.

Shot #5:

This was an important shot as well as it was the moment of realisation for the character & how he can use the box to control the lift.

Shot #6:

This shot was to show the character’s understanding of the box as he rides it all the way up to his desired level. However after reaching his floor, the lift doors remain closed. He figures maybe cutting open the box to see what is inside will help him understand what’s going on.

Shot #7:

The last shot happens outside the lift, as he opens the box, it correlates with the opening of the lift door, symbolising the box as the lift he is in. He looks inside & smiles, but it is never revealed what is inside the box. This was just to add a fantasy element to it & leaving the audience to wonder what is inside it.

The seen & unseen element of the film was how this unsuspecting label on the box that we usually never see ends up being of crucial importance to the mechanics of the lift. We journey with the character as he begins to see & discover the label as well.


Final timeline

Sound design was crucial to this film as we never get to see the levels of the lift, it was important to convey the movement of the lift through sound.

The pacing of the film was also important as it had to have this gradual sense of discovery as we learn the truth about the box with the character. The climax had to come in in a way that felt just nice & ties the whole film together.

Before & After

With the colour grading, I went for something a little green-ish, this choice was to match the aesthetic of the lift as well as giving it a somewhat dark yet magical look.

Final film

It was definitely a crazy & fun-filled process leading up the final film, but it was all in good fun. Do enjoy the final film!