Alter Ego – The Purpose of Art

Having not actually filmed much and also adopting the Werner Herzog philosophy of having a broad idea of what I wanted to shoot and going to the locations to let the shots present themselves, in place of having a storyboard, I took quite a number of shots.

Coincidences always happen if you keep your mind open, while storyboards remain the instruments of cowards who do not trust in their own imagination and who are slaves of a matrix. If you get used to planning your shots based on aesthetics, you are never far from kitsch.

Werner Herzog


Coincidentally, Sabina is against kitsch too. (More on that in the previous post)

I used the movie “Before Sunrise” as a point of reference for this film; opting not to be influenced by the movie adaptation of The Unbearable Lightness of Being.

The history/memories of characters throughout the film: Before Sunrise
These places have significance to the characters. Do they have any effect on anyone else without context?
These places have significance to the characters. Do they have any effect on anyone else without context?

Before Sunrise is one of those films that had a profound impact on me as a teen. I still go back to it to learn about filmmaking. One of the many moments that I remembered from the film was the ending where we see wide shots of places where the two protagonists had been throughout the night. Because we’ve been through the journey with them, there is a feeling of, perhaps, nostalgia. I can’t quite pinpoint the feeling with words. Maybe it is the feeling that these places have a magical hold on us. They are just places to everyone else, but these places are memories to us. Yes. That is what I am trying to achieve; or at least just a fraction of.

The difference is I am jumping straight to the epilogue and expecting the audience to fill in the blanks themselves. This will either show my confidence or failure as a storyteller.

After my research, I had to come with a story for what would be shown in the 1 minute of film. Keeping in line with the character not having friends, I went out on my own on Chinese New Year to film the places I used to hang out with friends. The story is an epilogue. Imagine a person having gone through so many relationships and now has no one. This person is reflecting on his decisions.

I made my way to Pasir Ris and started with the nearest place, Coral Secondary School.img_5600-1

And found that they had already slapped a new name on top of the body and essence that was my school.

This was where my CCA was held most of the time.
Just a small part of it left

But I digress.

I walked the route from school that I normally took to get to the basketball court below a friend’s house.

I would have liked to film in the canal where we would foolishly play but the water level made that impossible
The basketball court and house
Occasionally we’d go to the playground just up ahead

Next I went over to Loyang point and Street 21 where my primary school was, and still is, located.

This one basketball court in a church that we’d just casually walk in
My favourite mini mart, now a 7-11
My favourite mini mart, now a 7-11
Still mostly the same
Still mostly the same
Another one of those basketball courts and playgrounds.

After all that I walked back to the MRT station and ended off the day’s shoot with the area near my house.

An important swing
An important swing (of friendship)
"Hallucinations" playing, the construction workers, and the sky without a star
“Hallucinations” playing, the construction workers, and the sky without a star.

The next day, I went to more crowded places for variety before heading back to school.

Places we used to go to think about impossible things
Places we used to go to think about impossible things
Spaces that no longer belong to just us
Spaces that no longer belong to just us
Places that are just places now
Places that are just places now
A coffee table
A hawker centre table
The basement green table?

The feel I was going for was somber and I know that it will turn out coming off as some prick with a stick up his butt- BUT I wanted to try taking something seriously for once. I always talk about how philosophy seems pointless because there is no answer. That is because I can never bring myself to make a stand. I am trying to make a stand and because I am, I have to question myself endlessly.

With that in mind I ask myself, “Who do I make art for?”

A lot of times I don’t want to answer the question because an answer might define me and I am supposed to be “light”.

The next couple of shots are pick up shots that I hold no feelings or memories of, but I took them anyway because they evoked an emotion that I wanted to convey.

screen-shot-2017-02-04-at-9-29-10-pm  screen-shot-2017-02-04-at-9-29-26-pm

What is the purpose of my art?

To entertain? To express? To communicate?

Alter Ego – Sabina

from The Unbearable Lightness of Being; or some character (not even the main character) from this one book that you may or may not have heard of.

Before working on the inspiration file, I did some research on the character as I wanted to go beyond face value. Since this is really for my own use, I’ll dump it out here.

It starts out with my deciding if it was the main character TOMAS, or Sabina that I felt more affinity towards. I started with Tomas because protagonists get more “screen time”

Tomas or Sabina



Tomas: Womanising | Lightness or weight of being | I, too, struggle with the lightness and weight of life.


His character experiences the temporary sweet lightness of being when Tereza leaves him to return to Prague. Thereafter, he experiences the unbearable lightness of being that comes with his compassion for Tereza


Tomas reminisces about lightness and weight after a night of sex with someone else


Ideas: Sex vs. Shared Sleep | Eternal return (An interesting concept)

The heavier the burden, the closer our lives come to the earth, the more real and truthful they become.

As free as you are insignificant


We make decisions at each point in our lives but we can never know what the other outcomes could have been. We can never know if we chose correctly. (To me, a very important epiphany)

So what?


I am standing at the window of his flat and looking across the courtyard at the opposite walls, not knowing what to do.

From here I started to research on Sabina and found that-

Betrayal is Sabina’s way of fighting kitsch – a word that keeps popping up in Sabina’s story


Why does Sabina’s relationships always end in “betrayal”; i.e. leaving good people for uncertain and empty loneliness and freedom (Lightness).

Why is she drawn to “betrayal”?

Why am I drawn to “betrayal” and, by extension, lightness? (The main thing that connects us)

Beauty is a world betrayed

Sabina was searching for new beauty; to break away from kitsch


On the surface, an intelligible lie; underneath, the unintelligible truth

Repetition gives things “weight”

Nothing more magnificent than going off into the unknown

Es Muss Sein – It Must Be. (A song lyric that talks about things that are fundamentally the character or maybe even intrinsic nature)

The only way you can sufficiently guard your heart is if you live a life in which you have nothing to lose. (Trying to see how Sabina sees)
Take lovers, use them for what they are good for, let yourself be used, but remember to return to your solitude, always. I don’t know where this idea came from, that we need another person. Throw that idea out the window.


In death, you can only hope to become nothing. This is the ultimate beauty. There are times when I feel so empty, I am sure death has come for me. I imagine that is very much how death will feel. (Source)



Sabina: Confidence | Choosing a “light” life results in her irrelevance in the world | While not confident, it is uncanny how the both of us always find ourselves feeling both alone and irrelevant. It is a choice we consciously make.


Lightness of being | Too much lightness | I feel affinity towards her view on the lightness of being and also bear the unbearable lightness of being. Nothing matters: a dual-edged sword.


Does not hold anything dear to her; with the exception of her bowler hat


Sabina holds that the ideal of one-voice-no-individuals is actually much worse than any violent or imperfect totalitarian reality.


She likes to be humiliated sexually by men (?) Backstory stuff

Sexual promiscuity = lightness

Commitment = weight


Of everything in the Inspiration file brief, I found the sentence starters to be the most useful in giving my alter ego, form.

I firmly believe that meaning has no place in what my idea of life is.

I would like to run away to America. / I would like to know what would have happened if I had chosen differently (weight over lightness)

I love being truly free.

I hate the kitsch of the world; the unoriginal and aesthetic ideology imposed on us

I have no problem with nudity

I know that my choice to betray (to break off into the unknown) will leave me irrelevant and unknown. This makes me uneasy.

BUT, that doesn’t mean that the pursuit of lightness is any less unbearable

I chose to focus on the lightness that Sabina has chosen. I feel affinity towards her views on kitsch and several ideas too. With the limited time that I have I want to focus on one thing only. Cramping in too many ideas into a one minute film is just too tall a task for me. Who knows, maybe our fight against kitsch will come through the film itself. That is the challenge.