Saturday, February 13, 2021

2021 #VWEDU: Looking for Mr Gelam by Word Forward. Beach Road at Kampong Gelam, the Malay heritage quarter of Singapore. On the Virtual Beach.

Looking for Mr Gelam by Word Forward.  
Beach Road at Kampong Gelam, the Malay heritage quarter of Singapore.  
On the Virtual Beach.

Embark on a VR-journey back in time to the year 1825, in search of the elusive Mr Gelam around Beach Road and Kampong Glam with Uncle Sam and his niece, Ling. Presented by Word Forward

On the Virtual Beach

A new short film: Looking for Mr Gelam

By Chris Mooney-Singh

I was moved to make this film because of COVID-19. We are all living a collective life we hope won’t become a prequel to The Walking Dead. I am exaggerating, of course, but the truth is, the world is masked. These are plague times. Neither can we flee from our countries to sprawl on a beach in Bali, Thailand. Bermuda or Australia. That’s where a virtual beach comes in handy. My digital build partner Kaylee West, along with our talented crew of 3D modellers Modee Parvez and Ada Radius have recreated one that doesn’t exist anymore. 

Beach Road at Kampong Gelam, the Malay heritage quarter of Singapore once fronted the sea. Reclaimed land and skyscrapers replaced mangroves, marshes and moored ships from around the world. I came to learn, also, the significance of the word 'gelam'. No spoiler alert: you will have to watch the film to find out what it means. I should add there are only a handful of ‘Mr Gelams’ left.

From a filmmaking point of view modelling 3D locations and characters is practical and cheaper, especially during a pandemic. Moreover our modest indie budget could not have sustained period-costume film segments. Digital set design created through a computer game-engine is one of the forms of virtual movie-making on the cutting edge of cinema today. Our short film thus creates a virtual set in real time which can also be used as a learning journey environment. I decided to turn the lens back on history to remind people what we have lost. I hope this little film helps us remember who we are.


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