The Days: A Boi Kwong Film


Opening on 11 September, The Days from director Boi Kwong is based on a true story and tells the tale of Singapore’s young street gangs between 1989 and 1990.

The trailers and tie-in promos for the movie come packed with frenetic creativity, kicking off with an online release of a series of one-of-a-kind comic stories by local illustrators Josef Lee, Fleecircus, Sam Lay and Kenfoo.

Read on as we chat with Randy Ang -one of the producers- about the combination of film, illustration and music, and what it takes to make it all come together. Ernest Chua, Guitarist and Vocalist of Blackforest, talks about working on the soundtrack. And to give you some insight into the process of developing motion graphics for a movie, we also speak to Motion Graphics Director and Designer, Josef Lee, who tells us how he approached the project.

Randy Ang, Producer

Most of the time, creative people work independently, and I believe most enjoy that for the freedom. Film is a medium that can allow for creative individuals to gather. It allows for production designers, set artist, wardrobe styling, musicians, music producers to work together for a common vision.

With The Days we are trying to push independent films to a whole new level. Adding to the mix, motion graphic artist Josef Lee and illustrators like Sokkuan and Hanwen offered an even bigger edge with their collaboration in the film itself. And we are not stopping there, soon, you will see an online comic series by four artist – Josef Lee, Fleecircus, Sam Lay and Kenfoo, up on the movie website.

As the movie is by first timers, we are trying to reach a brand new audience and lead them into the story with comic stories. These are like prequels to the actual film itself. Although on a tight budget, we also went ahead and recorded three originals songs for the film, one of which is the theme song “My Freedom” by Blackforest. We also had music genius Jim Lim doing two songs for our lead actors, Justin Chan and Adele Wong – and we shot the music videos. To me personally, this is what makes a film exciting. And I do hope it will challenge Singapore filmmakers to push themselves beyond their limits. You cannot make a film alone – you need people who believe in it and want to make it better. This is the only way to better our craft and, hopefully, gain new audiences – and have a great time doing it. We are “The Days” family!

Illustration by Ken Foo.

Illustrator, Sam Lay: “Working on The Days gave me a chance to work on a more extensive comic series. It was a very different experience for me as I am very much used to working on single panels and sequential cartoons. The pacing and timing that is appropriate for single panels is not relevant for an extended comic strip. So this was definitely a challenging task.”

Ernest Chua, Blackforest

I wrote the song in an urge to get out of my frustrations in facing a choice between emotionally challenging factors; on the one had, deciding to leave the company which I built from scratch, and on the other hand dealing with feelings which are clinching me to stay with the company, where my logic is asking me to leave. When I was composing the music, the feeling of frustration was there, but I also incorporated my emotions. That’s where my music becomes softer … that’s the part in the video where I am playing the acoustic guitar … after that, frustration builds up again. The mood of the song fits the movie perfectly; the main character in the movie is also having a hard time leaving behind what he once had.

Josef Lee, Motion Graphics Director and Designer

Boi is a very visual-based director and when he first approached me to work on the film, he did that with the intention of making his film more visually striking through the use of motion graphics. We had a few rounds of discussion before arriving at the concept of using comics as the main graphics idea. Boi wanted to give the impression that the film was somehow based on an existing comic, and hence wanted to introduce the main characters using illustrations, and also express certain key scenes or turning points in the movie as ‘freeze frame’ comic illustrations. Sokkuan is a personal friend of Boi and was hence specially invited to help us out on this. We initially gave her some Japanese manga as reference but upon seeing what we are doing using brush strokes and ink stains (for the graphic title sequence), Sokkuan made a counter-proposal to try experimenting with thick brushstrokes to give the illustrations a more Chinese comics feel. We were happy to let her explore and the end result is a unique look that served to enhance the entire film.


Illustration by Josef Lee.

Illustrator, Sokkuan: ” Initially I declined Boi’s offer because I was not confident to achieve the Hong Kong manga style that they proposed. Boi insisted me to take this chance, on top of that, both Boi and Josef were open to my proposal, so I really appreciate their trust in me. The masculine illustration style was really challenging to me as I had never done it before. In fact, after they accepted my proposal, I still wasn’t sure how to go about it …”

Josef Lee continues: To achieve a 2.5 min animated sequence, we needed a very competent illustrator. Hanwen is a very versatile illustrator whom I had previously worked with. I was initially hesitant to approach Hanwen as there was not much budget involved. However, upon seeing the movie posters and teaser trailer, he was very intrigued by the film’s premise and volunteered to be a part of the project, regardless of the budget. We experimented with various styles and color schemes before we arrived at this final visual look that is bold and raw. But the turning point for the end credit actually came from the music. Prior to starting the animation, Boi passed me the song “My Freedom” by local band Blackforest and said they have decided on having that as the theme song for the movie, and also the music track for the end credit sequence. The song fits perfectly with the concept for the end sequence and it gave me new inspiration for the pacing and feel of the animation.

To sum it up, I think Randy put it best when he said it is all teamwork. Boi and Randy are the best “clients” that one can have as they fully respect what we are doing, and we were given total creative freedom. Sokkuan and Hanwen are two of the best illustrators and they bring with them a wealth of experience and deep passion for the movie. And not forgetting the beautifully written theme song by Ernest from Blackforest that got me me re-inspired to do the animation.

Make sure to stay in your seat after the movie and watch the end credits. The 2.5 min sequence is directed, designed and animated by Josef, with illustrations by Hanwen. In other words, it’s a must see.



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