Singapore After Dark: Jurong Fishery Port is a documentary that aims to provide insight into the hard working lives of odd job workers and to enhance the significance of these lesser known occupations. The main video is compiled with montages of the bustling fishery port and insightful interviews of vibrant personalities to characterize the representation of Jurong Fishery Port. This documentary is presented in the context of an installation space, with two supplementary screens which utilise urban and suburban imagery and timelapses, to create a contrast between the hardworking fishmongers and sleeping masses. Employing the use of interviews, the video intends to highlight that, although the fishmongers work exhaustive long hours in a grimy environment and are subjected to the fish market’s unstable economic turnover, their unwavering optimism and responsibility towards their occupation is worthy of the public’s awareness and appreciation.
Relationship between content and form: How does the idea for the image influence the selection of the image’s content and process of execution
The content of the documentary is carefully curated to suit the medium of installation. To emphasize on the clear distinction between the silence of the resting population and the bustling activity in the fishery port, this video juxtaposes scenes of movement in the fishery port in the main video against side screens with minimal motion and figures. However, instead of using the loud ambience of the fishery port throughout the video, the sound design in the main video is kept at a peaceful rhythm using uplifting piano instrumental music, as to not overwhelm the viewers’ conventional perception of the stillness of the night. In order to maximise space in advantage to the documentary, side screens made of black cardstock are used to convey the idea of darkness in midnight hours, as white screens would be too bright and glaring for an installation with a night context.
Drawing reference from British filmmaker Ben Brown’s “Journey to a Costa Rican Food Forest” and Japan Tsukiji Fish Market, the documentary has a subtle balance between montages of the fresh seafood and liveliness of the fishmongers and buyers that represent the fishery port. Although filming in a busy fishery port was a daunting task, the team succeeded in using handheld filming technique to film various types of shots ranging from close ups to wide shots in order to comprehensively capture the essence of non-stop motion in the fishery port. By fully utilising the infrastructure of the fishery port, the team also managed to film bird’s eye view from the level two overhead bridge which spans the entire width of the fishery port, in which contributed to the many shots of the heavy trolleys that rumbled and pushed through the throng of people in the narrow walkways.
Compiling different images of the many facets of the fishery port to form a documentary is done to minute detail. The documentary opens with imagery and timelapses of urban Singapore at daytime, which are mainly shot in populated areas such as Raffles Place and the Central Business District. The emphasis is on the people and traffic bustling through the day. Following the sunset timelapse, is a silhouette of a huge lorry moving away to reveal the huge building of the Jurong Fishery Port. The blinking time reflects that it is 00:23 hours, and the documentary unfolds by giving the audience a general overview to the fishery port. The accompanying piano music acts as a lullaby, which provides the video a calming atmosphere, to bring out the concept of however busy the fishery port seems at first glance, it too has a pattern of its own to ensure the order and operation of the fishery port runs smoothly. As the music picks up the pace, the documentary introduces faces of the fishery port. The interviews encompass simple and direct questions, to more in-depth enquiry of the business of the fishery port. The different demographic of interviewees also provide an insight of what the fishery port has to offer to different people, be it the local fishmongers or the foreign worker customers. The documentation closes with a thought-provoking sentence, with hopes that it leaves the viewers a lingering thought that every job has its own value, be it a white collar occupation or blue collar job. Forgotten occupations such as fishmongers play an important role in fueling the economy of the nation, considering their hard work and dedication despite working in odd hours and grimy environments, should not go unnoticed and under appreciated by the public.
“Singapore After Dark: Jurong Fishery Port” is a documentary in the form of multiple video installations that contrast the scenes of the bustling fishery port and the stillness of suburban Singapore. Compiling dynamic scenes of the fishery port, stories from the fishmongers and buyers from various walks of life, we bring you on a journey from the grimy, wet floors to the lively interaction within this hidden community. The main screen is complemented by two supplementary projections which utilise urban and suburban timelapses and imagery, showing a clear distinction between the working labourers and the sleeping masses. Inspired by British filmmaker Ben Brown’s “Journey to a Costa Rican Food Forest” and Japan’s Tsukiji Fish Market, this work aims to provide insight into the hard working lives of odd job workers and to enhance the significance of these lesser known occupations.
For this installation project, we wanted to try a different approach to filmmaking, to break away from the narrative structure we’ve been more familiar with for the two semesters. Thus as we were conceptualizing our project, we were introduced to a British filmmaker Ben Brown, who made a documentary about the roots of food at the Costa Rican Food Forest. Hence, inspired by his project, we researched on various food farms in Singapore, which eventually led us to the Jurong Fishery Port. Instead of mimicking his works, we chose to do a fishery port because we felt that the fishery port was a topic that is unfamiliar among the masses. Thus, after we settled on our subject, we started conceptualizing the focus of our video. There were two possible paths:
A) To concentrate on the journey of the fish from where they were caught up till the point of them being served at restaurants
B) Focus on the occupation and stories of the fishmongers at the Jurong Fishery Port.
In the end, we chose option B as we felt there was more character to the place than we initially thought when we step foot on this port. The sights and sounds of this place were very overwhelming as we were greeted with bustling activities as far as the eyes could see. We wanted to bring out this idea of how each job has its own definitive value and to highlight this importance to people.
Ben Brown’s ‘Journey to a Costa Rican Food Forest’
Drawing inspiration from this video, we were thoroughly impressed by the quality and the content it brings to talk about the journey of the source of our foods. We decided that we wanted to evolve this idea and bring about our own ideas of a fishery port that only operates from 12am to 6am.
NHK Tsukiji World’s Largest Fish Market ‘The Incredible Hands’
We also used this documentary to see how they filmed their shots and their main focus of the show.
Alex Prager’s ‘Face in the crowd’
Dan Mace’s ‘Gift’
We went to the fishery port twice. The first time that we went, we wanted to have the feel of the whole vibe of the place and we didn’t film anything. We thought of all the shots we could do in the place the next time we came.
The shots were broken down into a few places ranging from close ups to wide shots.
Fishery Port Scenes:
Wide shot from AVA bridge
Resting (guy sleeping, people sitting)
Buying, customer choosing fish
People stacking boxes
Teamwork (multiple people carrying boxes)
Weighing of fish
POV shot of fish (GoPro inside icebox)
GOPRO on the floor – filming feet, crossroads
Short interviews of fishmongers
Side Screens Scenes
Quiet neighbourhood (HDB)
Empty shopping malls
Not running escalator
Central Business District
City hall (Funan crossing)
Equipments used for installation
Projector x 1
Mounting boards for projectors x 2
TV x 1 + 1 set speakers
Laptops x 3
Fishing nets x 2
We came up with a few short questions for the fishmongers before going to the port.
1) How long have you worked here?
2) Do you enjoy your job?
3) Is it tiring?
4) What do you do in the day?
5) How old are you?
As we interviewed some of them, their answers led on to even more questions for us to ask which allowed more content for our documentary.
Although our documentary did not have a narrative structure to it, we still needed a suitable song to set the mood for our whole video. We set out and explored many genres of songs before deciding on 3 songs that went really well with each other throughout the entire video.
Initially, we had trouble trying to match the songs together but eventually, we managed to find 3 songs that tied in well with the feel we were looking for, for the entire video.
Final 3 songs used:
Florence Fennel by Roses and Branches
Boe Falter by Roses and Branches
Night Trouble by PETIT BISCUIT
There were a lot of layers involved in our main editing process. Fortunately, we had filmed lots of extra b-roll footage which allowed us to contrast the scenes from wide shots to close up shots.
Whole set up
Fish baits hooked on fish nets
The installation received lots of positive feedback and we are genuinely happy the message of the video has been brought clearly to our audience 🙂
We also had a small surprise at the end of our presentation where we provided the class with potong ice cream that was hidden inside the styrofoam box as part of our contribution to the potluck. We were happy that the class enjoyed their little dessert.
The main challenge for us was time. Having to stay awake throughout the night to film and document this definitely took a toll on us and we knew how it felt to be in the shoes of a working fishmonger.
Getting the shot
With the narrow and busy walkways they had in the fishery port, we basically had to find a proper place and time when we are filming our shots. As much as we can, we need to be aware of our surroundings first before we actually start filming as we do not want to hassle the people working there. That being said, sometimes a good shot can be missed due to these reasons.
The first time we came to experience the feel of the place, we noticed that a lot of the fishmongers were constantly busy and looked pretty fierce. As much as we would want to get an interview from them, we also didn’t want to step on their toes or put a stop to their work. However, the second time round, we actually took the courage to ask a few of them and we were actually quite surprised with the response we were given. They were not actually that fierce as they look and some bothered to even talk more than we had asked for.
First off, the location wasn’t really accessible by public transport so we had to use the car to get in and out of the place. The place was really wet and grimy with the smell of fish right up our noses. We did do our own research about the place first before going there but didn’t expect it even more than we bargained for. We left with clothes stinking the entire car and our feet was just soaked with dirty water.
As there wasn’t a narrative structure, the initial process of piecing together the footages into 5 mins was a tough process. We had to rely on our chosen songs to give us an idea of roughly the start, the essence and the end of the video. However, as we slowly ease into the editing process, it eventually got easier and we just had to do minor tweaks to it.
Making a documentary was something I wanted to achieve since the very beginning of foundation 4D. With similar visions set out with this team, I was able to achieve this visual idea and put it out which eventually went further than my expectations. I’m really glad to be a part of the team with these 2 talented individuals who worked countless hours to achieve the final product. As this was the first time we are working together, we set out this project playing to our own individual strengths and learnt a lot from each other. Right from the beginning, we were set on what our subject matter would be and how we wanted the overall outcome of the documentary to be. The Jurong Fishery Port experience was entirely new to me and this place really opened my eyes to this hidden world that most Singaporeans wouldn’t have a clue about. Dodging trolleys that the fishmongers would pull from one end to another end on a narrow lane and trying not to fall from the slippery wet floors is something I would never forget.
I felt that our planning stage was quite successful which led to minor hiccups from filming all the way to post production. We met the timeline that we initially set for ourselves and I’m really proud of my team. It was an interesting experience to be working together on the edit as well. Ziyaad came up with the initial draft of the video and we all worked towards tweaking to match the feel of the video that we wanted right from the beginning.
Overall, I am grateful to have met such amazing teammates, each with their own set of skills, that enabled us to create this visual piece. I’ve definitely had a fun experience from the planning stage all the way to the execution stage and learnt much more about them which enhanced the outcome of the final installation.
I’ve never made a non-fiction video before, so this project was a real eye opener. Since I took visual effects in polytechnic, everything I’ve done has been fictional and sometimes over-the-top. Making a documentary has been a really insightful experience. It was a good idea that we went to recce the venue a week before the shooting day. Having a good idea of what to expect and what scenes we could shoot really streamlined the schedule during shooting day. We didn’t waste much time and managed to get what we came for.
Shooting at the fishery port was quite a fun experience. The paths were narrow and slippery, so we had to be really careful. We also could not use tripods as we didn’t want to block the way. Everyone was busy, but we still needed to get interviews and certain special shots. We tried to be as polite as possible, and while some people didn’t want to get interviewed, thankfully we managed to get a couple interviews shot. We really wanted to set up a GoPro to shoot a scene of the fishmongers emptying a container of fish towards the camera. We had to scour around the fishery port several times before we finally managed to get permission from a stall to get the shot.
I learned a couple of new things from editing the main video. It was really different from editing a narrative piece, because there wasn’t really a set structure for our video initially. I struggled a bit at the start, but after discussions with my group mates, we managed to make a simple structure to follow, which was mainly influenced by the music we used. It starts off slow, and by the end it picks up a bit. We took a ton of shots, which ultimately helped in choosing the various scenes we wanted to show. A lot of the shots were not used in the end, but having more options really helped.
Overall, it was a really fun assignment to work on. Other than the technical aspects, it was great to learn about Jurong Fishery Port itself, which is pretty much the purpose of the final installation; to inform people about this interesting place and its people. I felt that we did a pretty good job. The one key word from the assignment brief that I remembered from the start was “professional”, and I feel that my group really put in great effort to make the installation as professional as possible. We joked about putting too much attention to small details in our editing and the final installation, but I feel that it all paid off in the end.
Looking back on our 4D final project, I am overwhelmed with gratitude to have been a part of this wonderful project. This 4D project incorporated installation elements which was very new to me, and to be frank, even the high standards of filming and editing was unfamiliar to me. However, with patience, guidance and amicable attitudes from my more experienced team members Ziyaad and Azmir, I stepped up to the task and found myself enjoying the journey of creating our documentary, and learning new things along the way.
Although it was our first time working together, the strong synergy among us aided us in contributing each of our expertise into the project. For this project, I mostly took a backseat in filming and editing, as my team members were far more professional in these fields. In pre-production, my role was conceptualizing the central idea and to identify the specific themes we wanted to portray in the video. I didn’t realized the importance of this until my classmate Zhi Xin commented that the video has a touch of sensitivity to it, which has been the overarching theme in all of my artistic projects. In the filming stage, I took on the role as a mediator to approach and interview the fishmongers, as majority of the fishmongers were Chinese. To our surprise, even though the fishmongers didn’t look very friendly, we found out that most of them were willing to let us film them or engage in a short interview with us. As I was the one in charge of conducting interviews, my team members jokingly called me the “Bearer of the Zoom (mic)”, which endearingly suggests my role of recording audio and sound.
In post-production, I was really amazed by the great videography captured on film. Being teammates with such talented videographers truly opened up my eyes to the beauty of filming, hence now I have a deeper appreciation and knowledge for filmed footage. While I edited the side scenes featuring the shopping mall, I also learned to recognize photography techniques such as “depth of field” from Azmir. I also expanded my editing skills on Adobe Premier Pro, as I learnt how to use the Warp Stabilizer to stabilize shaky clips, and manually make a fade-to-black transition. Besides that, I learnt the importance of consciously saving the project every now and then, and the steps in rendering a video. In addition to side screen video editing, I also translated the Chinese interviews into English. This proved to be a more challenging task than I thought, because the subtitles had to be as concise and accurate as possible.
On the day of presentation, along with my team members, I was very glad to see an overall positive response from our peers. However, our instructor Ruyi posed a question to the class that got me thinking: do you think the characters in the interviews connected with the audience? The answer didn’t come to me until I chanced upon a documentary made by the Singapore-based “Familiar Strangers” campaign (https://youtu.be/mwaS5LeMdGc), which features how low waged foreign workers’ respond to positive and negative comments made by Singaporean locals. The three-minute video left a lasting impression on me because of the individualistic characters that was the foundation of the video. Hence, as a concluding advice to improve my documentary projects in the future, I understand that a documentary benefits from having a strong character to anchor the concept and theme of the documentary, because the human individual breathes life into the subject tackled.
This is the final product of my zine titled ‘Transit In Vietnam’. It speaks about my adventures and the modes of transport I took during my week-long backpacking trip with a bunch of close friends from Ho Chi Minh City all the way to Nha Trang in Vietnam. The zine visually narrates about the hectic traffic in Ho Chi Minh City, a train ride across different states and the journey to the white sand dunes in Mui Ne.
I incorporated the idea of each spread being a different place in Vietnam and accompanying it with minimal texts so I could let the pictures speak for themselves instead. Initially there were some printing problems and it didn’t exactly turned out as how I wanted it to be. However, I managed to recover from that mistake and work my way around it and eventually it turned out pretty decent.
Overall, I’ve really enjoyed the process of making this zine, as I sift through the various travel photos I took over the years and carefully ‘curating’ them to my zine. This photo zine was also driven by the idea of my travel photos being stagnant in my hard drive. This project has allowed me to showcase these travel photos visually and yet tell a story from start to end. I’m also thankful for the valuable feedback and ideas Joy has given me as well as learning InDesign which can potentially help me in my future projects.
We were tasked to create an 8-page zine where we can choose to explore our past works or work an entirely new creation. After going through numerous thought processes and conceptualising, I decided to do a photobook zine where I put a bunch of photos into an 8-page zine. The central focus I am looking for in my zine is my travels in the past few years.
I went to search on various travel magazines and zines that could possibly inspire me as well as how I want the layout of my zine to be.
Here are some of my inspirations:
These 2 magazines contains similar styles and I love their minimalistic approach on their photos and text. Everything looks very clean and easy to absorb and it just looks aesthetically pleasing.
Some other inspirations:
I’m inspired by how the layout of the zine can be very simple to give a clean look to the overall zine and the photos are not overwhelming to the eyes.
Initially, I started with 3 main countries that I would like to feature. Mainly, Australia, Vietnam and Indonesia. Each spread will consist of photos from the mentioned countries.
Here is some examples of the first draft.
After reviewing the first draft, I decided to change my focus to one country instead that features 3 main places I’ve visited in that country. For this, I wanted to include short texts about each place, giving the readers a brief context of the place that is accompanied with the photos.
After going through consultation with Joy, she suggested I needed to find a unique selling point for my zine and what I am trying to tell people through this zine. She suggested that I could document my journey from one place to another place. For example, taking a train and taking a bus in different countries so the underlying concept is about commuting to different places. I then decided to incorporate my drafts and this idea together to form my final draft. I kept texts to a minimum and instead only wrote the name of the place in one of the photos.
There was still more ideas that I needed to explore to make it work but I know roughly what I was aiming for and how the concept in my head should turn out physically. My next post will be the actual final piece of the zine.
The binding method I will be going for will be the pamphlet stitch binding and the type of paper I’m using will be between 200-250gsm matte paper.
Azmir explores the different side of the Singapore nightlife, through a documentary that brings you to the western side of Singapore, the Jurong Fishery Port, that only operates while most of the people in this tiny island are sound asleep. He showcases a stark contrast between the bustling fish market and what goes on behind the scenes before the fishes arrive to the neighbourhood markets as well as scenes from the quiet neighbourhoods of Singapore. Drawing inspiration from Ben Brown’s ‘The Great Big Story: Journey to a Costa Rican Food Forest’, the documentary aims to put in light the hard work and dedication of the fishmongers that works through the night to bring fish right to your kitchen.