Nurturing Rising Talents in the Media Industry
Everyone wants to hire competent and experienced staff, but few companies are willing to give budding talents the chance to gain valuable experience in the first place. What’s worse, is that they subsequently lament the lack of experienced staff.
This contradiction creates a vicious cycle that slowly drains the “life force” from our industry. The creative industry thrives on new ideas and fresh concepts, but if it fails to nurture new blood and relies solely on the same small group of experienced hands, creative fatigue inevitably steps in.
Although tertiary institutions put their students on internships in the private sector, few students get to learn much when they are entrusted to do only the most menial of jobs.
However, I can understand why media practitioners are so worried about hiring youngbloods. Why should they entrust inexperienced staff with anything important and risk them messing it up? Why break the efficiency of a well-oiled team of old hands with a bumbling intern? Why put so much effort into training someone who may later join another company or even start his/her own company?
This is why I am grateful to have been mentored by Chan Gin Kai of Silver Media Group and through his project collaborations with Aurora Media Holdings, learn from its Managing Partner, Justin Deimen as well.
During my internship with Silver Media, I learnt about the “risky” efforts that Gin Kai takes to nurture new talents. While most companies only want interns who have trained for a year or two in media schools, he has taken on students from other disciplines and even fresh “O” Level and “A” Level grads, simply because, “Everyone with the passion deserves a chance, and the industry needs new blood too”. He has also sent interns on important overseas assignments, and given a number of filmmakers their directorial debut.
But all of this is not without pain, sometimes a lot of it. Gin Kai and Justin have told me about the difficulties of nurturing new talent; the amount of time spent teaching and guiding them, and the efforts needed to rectify their mistakes.
As an associate producer, I was entrusted to write the screenplay for an animated telemovie, Secrets of the Swamp (2016). I was also tasked to be the Project Market coordinator at the Southeast Asian Film Financing Forum (SAFF) 2015, managing the schedules of 10 regional filmmakers and important decision makers from around the world.
Both experiences were baptisms of fire for me, and huge risks for Gin Kai and Justin. They were important projects with big ramifications if I failed. I was nervous handling these projects, but I could imagine they had even more reasons to be nervous, allowing an intern to handle such crucial tasks.
The risks they took with budding talents, the extra effort required to nurture them, and the pain of having to rectify the kinds of mistakes which experienced hands would never make, have paid off for many young media professionals. It has certainly greatly benefited me.
At the young age of 23, I am now an aspiring producer and filmmaker, developing my own intellectual property, an animated action-adventure series titled, The Gate Seekers. I am now working with angel investor 8nalytics, and international distributor Hub Media Group, to turn the idea into a regional series.
I will also be organizing an exhibition for the THE GATESEEKERS at library@orchard in August 2017. And the mentoring does not stop, as they graciously continue to provide me with the guidance, whenever I need them.
Gin Kai has told me a few times, “When you become famous and the owner of your own animation studio one day, don’t forget me, young Padawan”.
I am sure I never will.