SINGAPORE: Two young men who don’t let their disabilities stop them from playing football for Singapore or producing rap music. A young woman who brings healing to the elderly with cat therapy. Heart-baring stories of growing up in broken homes. And how social media users handle online fame.
These are some of the stories told in film by young student producers in a first-ever tie-up between Mediacorp and four local higher learning institutes to produce an entire series for national television.
More than 30 students from Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, Lasalle College of the Arts, Ngee Ann Polytechnic and Nanyang Polytechnic were tasked to produce stories on the issues impacting Singapore’s younger generation.
The brief? That the student producers tell a story close to their hearts from their perspective and differently from a professional producer. Each team was mentored from pre- to post-production by a senior producer from Mediacorp Channel 5’s On The Red Dot.
The series, YXY: Youth by Youth, debuts Friday (Dec 1), at 9.30pm.
Watch: Scenes from the first episode
WE ARE FAMILY
In the first episode, We Are Family (airing Dec 2), students from Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts tell the stories of Noelle Ong and Tiffany Miranda, two young women whose parents are divorced. They struggle with growing up in non-traditional families.
Noelle alternated between living with her mother and grandmother before finding security and stability in a friend’s family. Tiffany once thought her friends were more important than her family until she rebuilt the bonds with her mother and stepfather.
For 20-year old Ong Weiting, a third-year student from the Diploma in Screen Media course who worked on the episode, the topic of family was a universal one.
Said Weiting on their approach: “We chose this because it is a very relatable subject. Everyone cares about their family, everyone struggles with their family, and everyone wants a perfect relationship with their family.”
Meanwhile, student producers from Lasalle College of the Arts chose to explore the topic of disability among youths.
Unstoppable (airing Dec 9) is a story of Jeremiah Tan and Danial Bawthan, two determined young men who grew up with disabilities.
Jeremiah (above) suffers from rickets and traumatic brain injury, but that has not stopped him from representing Singapore on an international stage as the youngest player in the Singapore Cerebral Palsy Football Team, better known as the CP Lions.
The CP Lions won the bronze medal at the PARA ASEAN games last year.
Danial (below), who was born with spinal muscular dystrophy, has taken to beats, rap and beatboxing to express his thoughts, winning awards along the way.
Amirah Lim, 22, who took on the role of assistant director for Unstoppable, approached Danial for this project after watching him perform on stage.
The project helped her teammate, Jabez Koh, understand what young people with disabilities face. “We learnt that there are many more youths with (debilitating) conditions who are afraid of coming out to the world because they are afraid of being ostracised or bullied,” he said.
One inevitable topic attached to youths is social media, and it was tackled by students from Nanyang Polytechnic.
The episode, Gen Soci@l (airing Dec 16), delves into the lives of Sarrah Tay, Sonia Chew, and Benjamin Wong – three avid social media users.
Polytechnic student Sarrah, 18, finds a connection to celebrities through social media, while radio DJ and social media influencer, Sonia, talks about how she manages her life on social networks, the impact she has on fans, and vice versa.
The episode also features Benjamin, an introvert by nature whose six-second video clips on Vine have captured more than 8 million views.
Kerwin Chia, one of the producers of Gen Soci@l, wanted to show how a normal person like Ben could become famous overnight when his online videos go viral. “We wanted to show how this generation want something quick, (and) it is all instant gratification,” said the 20-year old.
The team from Ngee Ann Polytechnic, who produced the last episode, Passion Pursuits (airing Dec 23), wanted to document how some remain focused on honing their craft or turning their interests into something fulfilling.
One of the two stories featured in the episode tracks young musicians Quek Jun Rui and Thong Wei Ling (above) from Singapore National Youth Orchestra who have chosen to pursue classical music as a co-curricular activity and at School of the Arts (SOTA) respectively. They spend countless hours, days and nights working to turn their passion into professional musical careers.
Then there is Camellia Abd Gani, who volunteers with the elderly and disabled with the help of some special assistants – cats.
Camellia, who is dealing with her own personal loss, believes her cats provide healing not only to those she visits, but to herself as well. Through her story, the segment looks at how pet owners and their animals can provide assisted therapy to those in homes and other institutes.
Russell Goh, the producer of the segment, did not initially know this volunteer project existed. Said Russell: “I have been to old folks’ homes before. The atmosphere lacks joy mostly, and people do things out of routine.
“But when I followed Camellia and her group of volunteers, there was a spark of joy on the faces of the elderly. The atmosphere livened up as they interacted with the animals.
“So we wanted to bring you on this journey (with the segment).”
Looking back at the eight-month long production, deputy chief editor of English Current Affairs, Ms Susanna Kulatissa, said: “This collaboration has been exciting and meaningful. It provides a rare opportunity to peek into the world of our youth and experiences their triumphs and struggles through their eyes.”
YXY: Youth By Youth premieres Friday, Dec 2 at 9.30pm on Mediacorp Channel 5.