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Arbutus #MyFirstAutomatic with @jeslenec (Part 3)

Part 3: My First MeWatch Production @jeslenec

Meet Jeslene Chia, also known as @jeslenec on Instagram. Here she shares with us her first experiences with Arbutus and how Arbutus Skeleton AR1719SWS is an ideal choice for her first mechanical watch.

What are you currently doing?

I entered The Smart Local as an intern video producer for TSL’s YouTube channel. Worked my way up to be converted to a full time video producer. 2 years later, I started working on big projects, as a producer, like TSL’s first ever web series - Alternate Beginnings. And now I’m working on TSL’s first ever collaboration with Mediacorp (MeWatch) - The Algorithm, a dystopian romance drama series. Not only am I the main producer for this project, I’m also part of the scriptwriting team.

What does it take to be a scriptwriter?

Binge watch films! Local and international films! Try to widen your perspective and view and be open to a wide range of contents. I’ve never written a script before. Okay, maybe once but that script didn’t turn into a film. It’s still in my google docs drowned by many other work documents. It was just an idea I had when I was going through some dark times in life and turning my life story into a script gave me some sort of emotional relief. I honestly do not think that script writing has to have fancy words, fancy storylines. As long as the story/dialogues used within the film is relatable to human beings, half the battle is won. The biggest challenge, especially when writing The Algorithm, was to dig deep into my past experiences. Emotional wounds that have already been healed, I am forced to open them up and revisit them once again. It was hard. The most satisfying feeling was when my assistant producer read the script for the very first time and she said that she’s already invested in the characters in the show and it was purely based on the scripts that we have written. No visuals, no nothing. Just words and descriptions. It was like a weight lifted off my shoulders.

What are some projects you have worked on?

My job has given me a lot of opportunities to try out different kinds of content. I used to produce Singapore’s Try (TSL’s staple on YouTube). 2 years later in TSL, I voiced out my interest in doing higher production contents, such as short films. Doing TSL’s first ever music video was the first breakthrough of my career. My colleagues saw the potential in me and began to trust me to produce our first web series - Alternate Beginnings. Alternate Beginnings was commissioned by IMDA. It’s a sci-fi romance series where the female lead gets to experience 3 different love experiences with 3 different guys through an alternate reality simulation, hoping to find the perfect one for her. It was such a fun project to work on because the synopsis of the show is interesting. My director wanted to show the different kinds of love we have experienced in real life and what better way/the most effective way to show it than a time warp plot. Furthermore, during that period of time, sci-fi was the “in” thing.

Can you tell me more about MeWatch? And what is the vision/future for the MeWatch platform?

It has always been my bucket list to do a drama series for Mediacorp. A few years ago, Mediacorp took the leap and ventured into digital platforms. They realised that more people are shifting from consuming content on TV to consuming content online - YouTube, Netflix etc. MeWatch is a platform where you’re able to watch drama series that are broadcasted on TV to a more accessible/convenient/timeless platform.

What challenges have you faced while developing this project? And how did you overcome it?

It is unfortunate that The Algorithm production is taking place during a worldwide pandemic. The biggest challenge is to scout for locations who are willing to let us film our series. And because of how complex the synopsis of The Algorithm is, it’s almost impossible to execute.

Synopsis of The Algorithm:

In a world where the government assigns everyone a spouse as a drastic measure to increase the country’s population, two individuals struggle with the system for their own agendas. Only to land themselves in constant dilemmas of what they need versus what they really want.

The dystopian world - In an alternate universe, Singapore’s ageing population is dire, divorce rates are too high, and the fertility rate is severely low. Divorce in Singapore is now illegal and getting partnered or “married” at the age of 25 is mandatory with the partner that the Institute assigns you with.

Judging from the synopsis above, we had to create a world. World building is the toughest because it means that we will have to have a lot of people in a single shot and with the covid regulations in place, it is almost impossible to build a world, convincingly. But despite the ups and downs, the team I’m working with are amazing. It is a rather lean team with a total of 9 crews, everyone taking up duo to triple roles in a big production, it is mentally and physically draining. But 9 individuals with the same goal - to make this the best project The Smart Local is able to produce, we’re working our hardest to make that goal happen. And as the head producer of the team, I’m beyond proud of the team.

Was the project a success? and Why?

This question can only be answered in another 2-3 months time hahaha. As I’m typing, we are filming one of the most exciting scenes. Please stay tuned!!

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