SUSS Film Studies students enjoyed talking to Singaporean director, Nicole Midori Woodford.
On 17 August 2022, SUSS Film Studies students had the opportunity to meet film director, Nicole Midori Woodford, in their class. Nicole filmed and directed the poetic short film “Waiting Room”, which was dedicated to the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre. The short film was inspired by the true story of Tommy Yu, who founded the Love & Unity Volunteers Establishment. The volunteer-based organisation helps needy or socially isolated elderly folks and provides pro-bono funeral services for them. Nicole explained how she worked with the largely non-professional actors, many of whom were advanced in age. “It was important to be very patient, sensitive and to build trust. This was especially important because the subject matter — about old and neglected people — is not easy to deal with”, said Nicole.
The elderly cast believed in the film and delivered wonderful performances.
Nicole also believes that as a director, leadership means being in the trenches with your team and having respect and compassion for them as they work hard to make the film, from carrying heavy equipment to providing meals for cast and crew. Filmmaking is a collaboration — a team-based craft, and she loves this creative journey.
Nicole often works with the same team, as they have forged close bonds.
Students had many questions on a range of topics, and were even curious about whether the actors were superstitious about filming death scenes. Nicole revealed that to dispel any bad luck, it is customary to give a red packet to actors who play a dead character, albeit a token amount.
Audrey Ng Yee Hann, SUSS Marketing student, said, “What really inspired me about Nicole's way of filmmaking and directing is the way she values relationships. I learnt how vital it is to treat your crew like family and how important it is to make your actors comfortable in the scenes they are acting in. I was really impressed when she mentioned how she would communicate with the actors and make sure they were at ease. She was also careful not to push them too hard. This shows her heart and I believe the compassion she possesses transcends any other filmmaking technical skills, which makes her way of directing feel like a breath of fresh air.”
Fazlee Rosli, SUSS Communications student, thought that it was a great sharing, “My takeaway is that filmmaking can be a heavy responsibility, especially when the director is tasked to tell a story about trauma.”
For Mervin Chan Jialiang, SUSS Communications student, Nicole’s sharing about what inspires her to make a particular film such as Waiting Room has enlightened and inspired him to make his own short film.
Tam Lee Ling, SUSS Communications with Film Studies student, summed up the sharing session well: “Having a film director as a guest lecturer in a seminar is a nice touch to our academic journey in film studies at SUSS. It gives a sense of reality and a hands-on experience from a film director to the students about the local film making industry. Please have more of such sessions!”
SUSS Film Studies students can look forward to more sessions with filmmakers as part of the Film Studies enrichment talks, with one coming up in September with film producer, Juan Foo. Find out about SUSS Film Studies minor, with courses on cinematic language, the film business, scriptwriting, smartphone filmmaking, streaming and more!