Here We Are: Documentary Film on Singapore's Growing Music Scene
Edited from 12 interviews, 15 different live artist performances and several music video clips, "Here We Are" dives into the heart of the local music community
A recording studio engineer by degree, Daniel Rucerito never expected that he would one day become a filmmaker. Three years ago, Daniel had viewed a few locally produced short films that depicted the more negative aspects of the music industry in Singapore.
As much as he could appreciate and relate to those films, he felt that there needed to be a more positive and collectively cohesive film that demonstrated the better side of the local music scene as a whole. The result? A 90-minute documentary titled "Here We Are" that sets out to globally expose Singapore's rapidly growing music scene, featuring many live band performances as well as interviews from artists, recording studios, media outlets, government sectors, band managers, producers and other affiliated organizations as they explore and discuss the various mechanisms that are sparking the current music movement.
Edited from 12 interviews, 15 different live artist performances (including A N E C H O I S, ShiGGa Shay, Inch Chua, Kevin Lester, Sezairi Sezali, Charlie Lim, Achilous, We The Thousands, The Sam Willows, Monster Cat, Charles J Tan, Rudra, The Great Spy Experiment, These Brittle Bones, In Each Hand A Cutlass, Flawed Element, Zahidah, Caracal, The Cave, Nicholas Chim, I Hate This Place and Aarika Lee) and several music video clips, "Here We Are" dives into the heart of the local music community and provides inside perspectives on where the Singapore music industry may be heading to in the very near future.
Daniel had never ventured into film prior to spearheading this documentary, but that didn't stop him from making a statement that he wanted to put out. He had been a musician since he was a small child and has always had a deep passion for music, so he knew that he had to create this film despite his inexperience in filmmaking.
What were some of the challenges you faced making this movie?
The greatest challenge was overcoming the hundreds of times I told myself to put the film aside due to various difficulties I was facing throughout the project.
I created this movie during my spare time and nearly single handedly. In addition, I had faced numerous challenges on various levels. Some were personal (family and health related) while others were technical (software bugs and computer crashes). Due to the obstacles, it took about 14 months to complete.
How was the production funded?
In the beginning I had actually asked a good friend if I could borrow his camera equipment. He agreed and also helped me to shoot some footage. After a few shoot dates, he had other commitments and couldn't continue to assist me.
That's when I had to save up enough money to buy my own equipment, which took a little bit of time. At the end of the post production phase though, the National Arts Council had awarded me a grant that helped to offset my financial investments for the film.
What do you want to achieve with this film?
I'd like to achieve a few things with this film. Firstly, I want to help establish Singapore as a global destination for original music.
Secondly, I'd like it to increase the fan base for local artists by attracting fans from the Western part of the world, as I feel they would be more receptive and appreciative of their music in contrast to the local culture here.
Lastly, I want this film to help inspire others to become more active in the local music scene in a way that will benefit it unilaterally amongst the community.
What was your opinion of Singapore's music industry before you made this film? Did it change after it was completed?
Before I made this film I felt that there were a lot of good things about the scene here in Singapore with the biggest factor being the amount of musical talent that some of these bands and artists possess. Now that the film is done and released, I feel that the scene has positively grown even more in various aspects since then.
How is the response to the film so far?
The response for the film has been good thus far since I made it available online a little less than a week ago. Since then it has received over 1,500 views on YouTube without any marketing efforts other than a few Facebook posts. It has 46 likes vs. 4 dislikes, so that's definitely a good indicator that it is being well received.
How do you intend to further promote the film? How will it be distributed?
I have already begun contacting college radio stations in the US in efforts to line up some interviews so that I can further promote the film to their listeners. I plan to do the same thing for promoting it in Europe and Canada as well.
I've also shortlisted some potential film festivals, but not sure I'll be able to go down that route since most of them require a financial deposit upon application and I'm not currently in a position to support that.
As for right now though, I think that the main focus will be distributing the film through the various social networking platforms available.
Which are the top three areas that you would like to see improvement on Singapore's music industry? How do you think it could be achieved?
1. I'd love to see proper spaces being made available for bands and artists to hone their song writing and live performance skills. Where I'm from in the US, bands play in basements or inexpensive warehouses that can be rented bi-annually. They can practice with their own equipment at anytime of the day or night. It's a space they can call their own and it allows them a better ability to grow as an artist because of it.
2. Further mentoring from established industry professionals in various areas such as music journalism, artist management, studio recording, song writing and producing in order to further elevate the local talent to an international standard.
3. Have the public acknowledge that music is an important factor in the balance of life and that being an artist or musician is a real profession that should be paid accordingly.
I think that all of the above can be achieved if we continue to work together without bias within the local music community. I'm very glad that SGMUSO has formed and come together because they have already made some good headway with various initiatives to elevate the music industry here although there certainly is a lot more that needs to be done.
What is your vision of the future of Singapore's music industry?
I see the Singapore music scene establishing itself as a real player amongst the global music community and receiving the appreciation it has well deserved.