4D (II) Project 1: Alter Egos – Miss You Process and Execution

How do I see the world? What am I looking for? How do I define myself?

Three very difficult questions.


Many stories were written based on the author’s experiences. These stories feel more authentic and believable because they are based on actual thoughts and feelings on issues that matter to the author. Through this project, we are expected to develop characters that resonate to us and to use central issues in our lives in our story telling.

Easy at first glance, but extremely difficult when attempted. I have always perceived myself as an open book. But am I? There are things that I thought I would be comfortable to share with anyone, yet I still hesitate. Then again, I can talk about my problems to strangers and be fine with it (and half-regretting it later). 

The point is. Am I ready to delve into issues that actually matter to me? Truth is, I’m scared. I’ve always been an escapist. Instead of tackling my problems head on, I conveniently run away. Even up till this point, I’m still hesitating. 

Irregardless, here is me listing down characters that intrigue me or that I like.



The Little Prince – The Little Prince
I loved this book (now also an animated film) ever since I first read it for my literature class back in Secondary 1 in Indonesia. The book exposes the many facets of “adult” behaviour through the lens of a child-like narrator.
The Little Prince is naive, imaginative and pure in a world where adults strive for adult things. In his own little world he manages a routine that is important to him, and in his journey he meets adults who have their own superficial priorities.

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Sakura Mikan
 – Alice Academy

Alice Academy is a manga written and illustrated by Higuchi Tachibana. I grew up reading and loving these types of stories where the characters are young and have a special power in school settings.

Mikan is the main protagonist. She is bubbly, optimistic, good-natured and determined, but clumsy and foolish at times. Despite her background growing up with her grandfather and no parents, she has a positive outlook and treasures her friends like family. She is courageous and would always stand up for her friends. 

Mathilda Lando – Léon The Professional
I really like this film for its heartfelt showcase of humanity and love in unlikely characters, and of how unfair the world is. Also the band Alt-j made songs based on this film which I listened to before watching this. I was completely dumbfounded when I saw the scenes where the lyrics were taken from as I could instantly make the connection (OMG THIS IS WHERE THEY GOT IT FROM).
Mathilda is young, but she is forced to mature beyond her age as she attempts to avenge the death of her brother (and perhaps her family, although it was dysfunctional). She puts up a brave front and finds a father figure in Léon.

Hugo Cabret – Hugo
Hugo is a movie based on an American historical fiction novel written by Brian Selznick. Martin Scorcese’s take on Hugo is visually stunning and the world of Hugo Cabret is a mystical one for me.
Hugo Cabret is an orphan living in the walls of a Paris train station (love the idea of secret spaces). He is secretive and anonymous, and has a great goal to achieve: bringing his late dad’s automaton to life. While he is not exactly a role model, his actions are driven by circumstance and in searching for answers and a connection with his father, he is bold and unstoppable.

Sadie Kane – The Kane Chronicles

Like I said, I like stories with gifted children in fantasy settings that intertwine with the normal world. Peppered with Egyptian mythology and teen angst, this Rick Riordan series is one such story.
Sadie grew up apart from her father and twin brother after their mother’s death. I liked her being of mixed-ethnicity, that she has a twin, and that she has magical powers. I also related to her want of being closer to her father and brother but not very outwardly showing this.



Vincent Van Gogh
Vincent Van Gogh was a post-impressionist painter who remained unknown and poor until after his death. He struggled with mental illness and died at the young age of 37 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. I like how he could express himself through his art and how the circumstances he was in and the state of his fragile mind was reflected in his paintings. Similarly, I would like to be able to express myself through my art.

Nyle DiMarco
Nyle was the first deaf winner of both America’s Next Top Model and Dancing With the Stars, two popular American TV shows. Despite being born with a disability, he could still accomplish his goals and to top it all off, he is also very sweet and down to earth.

Anna Akana
Anna is a Youtube personality who not only makes video content, but also writes, produces, directs and acts in her own short films. She is also a comedian and performs stand-ups, while managing her own clothing line. I admire her for having the willpower and determination to overcome her obstacles (her sister Kristina committed suicide and she herself struggles with anxiety and panic attacks) and achieve the things she wants in life.

Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (Ahok)

Ahok is the current governor of Jakarta, the second with Chinese ancestry and also the second who is Christian. In a largely Muslim society, he has faced his own share of racism and groundless opposition from extremists. However, he is headstrong in his conviction and exercises his plans as promised, while also being personable. He is known to be forthright, harsh, and iron-willed, facing corruption and other issues head-on effectively, in comparison to previous corruption-laden administrations.

Bethany Hamilton

Bethany is a professional surfer who lost her left arm in a shark attack. Despite this, she was able to eventually return to professional surfing – and emerging victorious at that. Her love for surfing and the sea was greater than the obstacle she faced at the time, and along with her unfaltering faith, she managed to rise back up from despair.



My reason of being.


Grew up with a disability and lack of understanding from people, especially his family.

My constants, though we are all in different countries now and rarely stay in contact.

My circle of support who shaped me to become who I am in Singapore.

School caretaker and operations manager (sorta) in his 60s (I guess) whom I’ve known since Primary 2. Lives in school with no wife or children. Cares for me like his own child, but since going to Singapore I’ve rarely seen him.

OK so things are going to get  p e r s o n a l.


I find that I have an affinity for a variety of characters.

Some have otherworldly powers and abilities, which reflect my constant day-dreaming of having a power that nobody else knows about. (Mikan, Sadie, The Little Prince) On a deeper level, this also reflects how mediocre I feel in the world and compared to those around me.

I also find that I am fascinated by characters who are weighed down by less-than-fortunate circumstances, whether it being an accident, a disability, or an illness. (Van Gogh, Nyle, Bethany, RK) These are very brave people, I feel, that they are able to face the world like everyone else. From my close interaction with RK, I know that it is definitely not easy, and behind the smiles there might be way more tears – but they endure it nonetheless. I applaud these people – their courage inspires me and pushes me to always try to overcome my own obstacles.

Lastly, and maybe most personally, I also find that I am drawn to characters who have lost their father or lack a father figure, or figures who are dependable, strong and caring. (Mathilda, Hugo, Sadie, Ahok, OA) Thankfully, I still have my father around, but growing up, I resented him. I do realise that he is still my father nonetheless and have learnt to love him in recent years. However, I did not realise that I’ve grown apart from him. There is this huge feeling of disconnect, no matter how much I try to establish rapport (or maybe I don’t even try). It slightly bothers me how I’m not entirely comfortable with my own father, and that I might actually don’t really care anyways. I realise that I subconsciously look for a replacement figure and like figures who are dependable and strong.



Here are three profiled characters from each list.

(Disclaimer: Profiling of real life characters are based on my own observations and the internet, they are not reflective of how these people truly are)



I find it fascinating how true it is that we are attracted to, subconsciously or not, characters that resonate with us.

Writing this wasn’t easy because I had to deal with some very personal issues. I rewrote sentences many times and deleted paragraphs when I felt too exposed. I considered approaching another topic that I still cared about, but it didn’t feel.. right. This may be a very small attempt to address the issues that matter to me and bother me, but I hope that it opens up new possibilities and help me understand my own thoughts and feelings about the matter.


Initially, I wanted to have a story set first and a general idea of what kind of look I wanted it to have, inspired by some films.

From all of the above scenes, I really love their common use of metaphors. While used and presented in different ways, they really brought out the mood and the meaning of the scene better. They also reveal parts of the protagonist in hints.

I kept in mind what we learnt in our first lesson about creating films where all the elements point back to its main message. (Dialogue, subtext, mise en scene, props/metaphors, etc). I had a few ideas on how I wanted the 1 min dialogue to be like.

However, I became stuck when wanting to finalise the script and the story idea. I felt like the characters were flat and not well defined. I paused and tried to research on how to write good dialogue. 

I found these quite helpful. 



I remembered the clip of the man and the nun Ruyi showed us on the first lesson. We can learn so much about the protagonist even though he barely says a word. This, I realise, is achieved through illumination by the sub-character’s dialogue and actions, and the protagonist’s reactions.

I am also reminded of this movie that I watched upon reading my senior’s post. It really is an impactful scene that not only describes the relationship between the two characters, but also reveals the protagonist’s flaws and acts as a turning point in the film. And again, the protagonist barely says a word! 

From these two scenes, I realised that dialogue does not need to be complicated or fancy. As how interaction is in real life, we find out more about a person from natural conversation and questions. Action and reaction. I also decided to develop the dialogue by using the character profiles, instead of jumping straight to the story only. 

So, I already had a theme in mind: Family relationships. I decided to develop two original characters based on the two detailed character profiles I made on Hugo and Anna, altering and adding in traits from other characters to fully deliver my theme. 

The main thing that I wanted to show was that the protagonist misses her family. In this scene, I wanted to reveal how the protagonist was so occupied with her academics that she rarely contacts her family. However, she doesn’t express this outwardly. To highlight this, the other character had to be contrasting, i.e. has a close relationship with her family. 


The next step is to decide how to show this. I wanted the sub-character’s dialogue to reveal the protagonist’s feelings. Yet, how do I make it such that it is not obvious? 

I’m an international student myself, who has grown up away from my family. I felt that I haven’t been contacting my family as often as some of my previous roommates. This is where the idea came from: The two characters could be roommates, and through B’s phone call home and conversation with her family, La’s hidden longing for her family could be revealed through her reactions.

From here, I developed the script surrounding the idea of La listening to a phone conversation between B and her family. However, I felt that it wasn’t enough to show La’s longing. 

In the end I decided to have a preceding dialogue which shows how La hasn’t been visiting home for a long time. This will hopefully intensify the scene. 




I asked my roommate to act with me so that it would be more natural. Coincidentally, she was also my roommate when I was in secondary school. 

At first I wanted to shoot on the bed area but in the end I chose to use our desk setting because I thought that using symmetry, similar to Wes Anderson films, could amplify the contrast between the two characters.

I rearranged items on our desks, taking away things that were too distracting (because of the colour), and adding things to illustrate each character’s personality. 

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The protagonist’s side is filled with projects, books, and her laptop. Monthly planners are pinned up, and no pictures are seen except for a poster of an ice cave. I also changed the desktop background to a dark colour because the previous lighter colour was too distracting. 

The roommate’s side, on the other hand, is filled with pictures, soft toys and memorabilia. There is almost no sign of school-related things except for the neat organiser at the corner. 

By doing this, I hope to highlight how disconnected the protagonist is from her family by providing a contrasting character right next to her. 

I originally took 4 different angles.

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However, while editing I found it difficult to piece up together, and it was becoming a little too distracting for such a short dialogue. I decided to take a step back, keep it simple and re-shot with just two angles. One from the back and another to show my facial reactions. As for the bathroom scenes, I kept it at one frontal shot, one mirror shot and one top-down shot for the ending. 


Editing was basically me warming up to Premiere Pro again. Anything I couldn’t do I Googled and it was okay. I also borrowed the Zoom recorder from school and used it to record good audio.

I hunted for appropriate music and tracks. Since it was unproductive and I couldn’t really find anything that fits, I decided to try looking from the pool of music that I already knew. I wanted a piano sort of beat at the start and so started listening through Tom Rosenthal’s music. I eventually found “The Snow”, whose intro was exactly what I wanted to use. For the last part, I was listening to Dessert’s songs when I realised that the lyrics of “Back Around” were somehow fitting to my character.

I was born to tell a lie, I could never change your mind, even when I tell the truth, there is nothing I can do, nothing I can do

She isn’t honest with her feelings, so she “tells a lie”, and there is seemingly nothing she can do about her dilemma of focusing on her academics but also missing her family. 


Overall, I’m satisfied with what I’ve done for this project. I’ve learnt so many things, from how to make a good film/story, how to put forth a theme in a story, to how important it is to have characters who are real, because they make the story so much more engaging, relatable and believable. I tried my best in applying all of this in my work.

Another important thing that I took away from this project is my finding out the issues or topics that matter to me. I realise that while I am concerned or interested in relationships between father and children, or how disabled people can go about their daily lives, the general idea is that I am interested in human relationships. This was a Eureka moment for me. I realise that what I am essentially interested in is the dynamics of human interaction and how this affects every single individual.

Well, I’m glad good things came out of this project and hopefully this will carry on to future projects.

Thanks for reading!

Watch the final product in my final post!



P.S. After more than half a year of not going home, I will be enjoying my time with my family during recess week 🙂


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Clarita Saslim

I love curry and I dream of mala in my sleep.

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