Off The Grid
How did you first get into the film and media industry?
I studied mass media in poly. I started doing documentaries first, and then I left to travel for about a year. When I came back, I was just looking for gigs with a shorter turnaround time, and that’s how I got into doing more commercials and short films.
Where did you travel to during your year-long break?
Around Asia. I did three months in South Korea, where I worked on a ginseng farm—best time of my life. I used to tell my ex-boyfriend, ‘My life was great (laughs). The best time of my life was not with you—it was when I was working on a farm’. Then I was in Taiwan for two months, where I was worked on another farm. After that, I backpacked around Southeast Asia with a really good friend for about three months.
What was the most memorable part of the trip for you?
It’s definitely my time in Korea. When I was working on the farm, only my host could speak English. The farmers and everyone else working on the farm didn’t speak English at all, but on my last day when I left, I think we built a bond so strong that the main farmer was crying when I was leaving. And he’s this 60-year-old ahjussi, you know what I mean? Like one of those Korean men that you see in dramas who’s really rigid and doesn’t talk about his emotions or show it. For him to show emotions to me is something very precious, and something I really cherish.
This tattoo on my arm is a ginseng plant, which I got in Korea. They gave me pocket money on the farm, so I paid off half of the tattoo with it (laughs). They’re really sweet people. I’m actually looking forward to going back to Korea in October next year. I went in 2017, and ginseng has a five-year harvesting period, so I’m looking forward to harvesting the ginseng plant that I grew. So I’m just going to go back there for three months, goodbye world!
What made you want to take time off to travel?
When I was doing documentaries, I wasn’t happy because I realised I was just writing stories about people and places I’ve never met, and I thought it was a little bit superficial. I mean, I was still young then, and I really wanted to just go and see the world. It’s very different when you’ve been to those places and you get to know people, rather than just writing stories about things that you research about online. I think it’s a totally different emotion and motivation you put into your work after you’ve been to those places.
As a freelancer, is it difficult to set boundaries for yourself and maintain a work-life balance?
It is tough, because for freelancers it’s like no work, no money, right? And also out of sight, out of mind. That’s a very bad saying in our industry, but I think it’s true—if you don’t do projects, or if you don’t go on shoots, then people kind of forget about you.
As much as it’s nice to have a holiday life outside of Singapore, I think it’s actually more important to build a strong foundation and a life that you enjoy back home, something that you can fall back on, rather than be constantly looking for things outside.
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