MTB RIDER SETH TAN AND HIS TEAM MATES
OF ITE COLLEGE CENTRAL FILMMAKING STUDENTS
CHURN OUT PROFESSIONAL-GRADE DOCUMENTARY
ABOUT OUR FAVORITE SPORT!
In terms of bike-life seconds, we have known Seth Tan for a long time. He has been an outstanding rider who never stops exploring and challenging his own capabilities, both on the saddle and behind the lens. It is this perfectionist attitude that stands out amongst riders. To some, he may come across as pushing himself too hard, but to those who know him well, he is a good friend and a good fellow riding buddy who has the tendency to motivate those around him to aim for greater heights in whatever they are doing.
When it comes to videography, his usual perfectionistic attitude got him to stand out from his peers once again.
With the opportunity given by ITE Central to gain access to logistics that rival any small production house, Seth and team embarked on the production of their short documentary: Elevated. During this period, we also saw Seth innovating some gadgets that made the film production process unique. Such specialized film contraptions once again proved that his deep involvement in the sport made him the most fitting person in his team to spearhead this project.
In our opinion, the documentary has the right dosage of bike-life artistry and language while keeping within the boundaries of a school project that is easily digestible with a wide range of audience segments! We have to say we are impressed with it. Read on for the background story and enjoy the documentary.
ARE WE ALL SETH TO GO?
What is this film about?
This is a first attempt to make a documentary about biking in Singapore. And I intend to make this the first of many to come!
Main Team (Left to right): Aishah Ibrahim, Zhang Yuan Hui, Eileen Sim, Seth Tan (Back), Ethan Ho (front), Nur Haidah Haidi, How Keshih, April Tong (Lecturer), Pang Yi Cong Javier, Patricia Heather Hwan, Shezlee Shaffil, Viknesh s/o Kandasamy, Denise Elisha
Screenplay Duration: 13mins
Locations: Zhenghua Park, Gangsa Hill, SCF Training Facility, East Coast Skate Park, NSR Bikes, Attitude Bikes
- Main unit: Canon C300, Zeiss Compact Prime Lens set
- 2nd unit: Canon C300, Canon 70-200 F2.8, DJI Inspire 1
- Camera accessories: Matthews Doorway dolly & track system, Porta Traveler Jib, shoulder rig
- GoPro unit: Hero Session, Hero4 Silver, and Hero4 Black
- GoPro unit accessories: 360 swivel mount, roll bar mount, handlebar mount, chest mount, Feiyu G4 gimbal, Matthews super clamp and magic arm set
- Sound unit: Zoom H6 with Sennheiser boom set
How did the idea come about?
It started with watching professional mountain bike films like Strength in Numbers, the New World Disorder series, Where the Trail Ends, Unreal, and various Youtube videos just to name a few. I have always been inspired by their filmmaker's ability to share the sport through the use of creative filmmaking. Being in the local bike scene for a few years now, I decided to train up my videography skills at local bike events during my days in ITE College Central Mountain Bike Club. And in late 2015, as an aspiring filmmaker, I decided to make a film about the local biking scene during my final year project in ITE Filmmaking (Cinematography) course.
What does this documentary aim to achieve?
The objective of this film is to help newer riders to understand our local scene a little more by featuring riders of different disciplines. And for myself, the objective is to learn, and improve my filmmaking skills. For a first project, I decided to feature local riders, bike shops, and riding locations. I’m looking to touch on more specific topics in the future, when time allows.
How many times was it screened?
It was filmed at the Butterworth Film Festival, ITE Cinema and Scape Theatre.
Any interesting stories to share during production?
There were some interesting experiences. We share some here:
Carrying equipment into Gangsa Hilll is one of the most troublesome parts of the film process. We decided to pack light with just 2 C300 cameras with their tripods, a lens box and an ice box on a trolley. It turns out that "packing light" was not exactly light at all. The path into Gangsa was so muddy, even the trolley was dead weight! It's the longest and hardest part of this project, and is the most talked about topic amongst the crew till this day.
We were really considering to shoot at Tampines Track but the shoot's timeline happened to be just days after the track was demolished!
During the shoot at NSR Bikes, we noticed that the shop has a white wall, which I thought was going to look pretty boring in the film. We also had a last minute change of schedule that day which left us at NSR Bikes the full day instead of the initial planned schedule. This forced us to change parts of the script over a meeting on set. We decided to focus more on the current scene, and to push back the film schedule a little. We chose to experiment with dry ice and colour gels for our lights to make the scene more dynamic. We used up all the 12 lights in our inventory! It took us a long time to set up the scene but I think the end result is quite an achievement! We ran out of sand bags too, and sadly, an Arri 150 light fell to the ground and shattered the Fresnel lens on it along with the bulb! We had to pay for the light. Moral of the story for us: take care of the lights!
Before Day 3 of the shoot, I visited Outdoor Sports Travel to buy some GoPro accessories for the filming. I ended up chatting with the guys at the shop and the conversation led to Outdoor Sports Travel and GoPro chipping in to support us on this project!
During one of the shoots, I was browsing Facebook and I came across the Bikezilla Mass Ride event page. And guess what? Since our earlier Bukit Timah shoot was canceled and this mass ride fell nicely within the shoot period, I brought my Camera Operator over to the mass ride's meeting point. That short meet up with the riders gave us our first scene which featured a family of riders in Bukit Timah.
Is there any particular style or director that your team takes reference with?
We chose to base our reference on biking films, especially the ones by Anthill Films. I also took a few days to watch film essays on Youtube to get some inspiration. But in the end, we decided to take the risk and go with my own style mostly. I guess it’s all about the “feel” that is different in every shoot.
Will there be a sequel to this film? Or a series spin-off?
I feel that this film should stand on it’s own. But I do have intentions to make more biking related films on more specific topics in the near future!
Anybody you wish to thank or credit in the production of this video?
I would like to thank the main crew that worked so hard for this project. They gave me views from the public's perspective and shots that are not rider-biased at times when I would have been biased with rider’s myopia. It helped make this project a better one!
The people that contributed to producing this documentary are as follow:
Director: Seth Tan
Assistant Director: How Keshih
Producer: Aishah Ibrahim
Assistant Producer: Nur Haidah Haidi
Camera Operator: Patricia Heather Hwan
Drone Operator: Seth Tan
2nd Unit: Eileen Sim
Camera Assistants: Shezlee Shaffil, Eric Cheng
Gaffer: Viknesh s/o Kandasamy
Key Grip: Zhang Yuan Hui
Best Boy: Pang Yi Cong Javier
Soundman: Ethan Ho Qi Cheng
Boom Operator: Denise Elisha
Data Wrangler: How Keshih
Editor: Seth Tan
I also want to specially thank Monkey from NSR Bikes who helped us transport our equipment as early as 6am in the morning during the shoot period while juggling between working during retail hours at NSR Bikes and also working on night shifts.
What are the things we should look out for in filming a cycling video?
For anyone that wants to start making biking videos, my advice is to learn when to move the camera, and when not to. Do your best in every project, think about what the audience wants to see because it’s all for the audience and they’re gonna watch it and just say “good edit” or “bad edit.”
All information and photos by Seth Tan