It’s no secret that Singaporeans love our food. As much as we enjoy scouring for the latest cafes in town or the fanciest restaurants to hit up, you can’t go wrong with a traditional plate of good ol’ chicken rice (nasi lemak, laksa, chilli crab… the list goes on). That’s why this emotive short film produced by 21-year-old filmmaker Lucas Ashwin Clamence can easily strike a nostalgic chord with local foodies.
Titled Sappudu, Makan, Chifan, it revolves around the story of three unassuming locals and how they’ve bonded through food in the multiracial, culturally diverse society we call Singapore. With the help of his mentors from MDIS School of Media and Communications, Lucas’ hard work paid off as it deservedly clinched itself an honourable award at the Singapore Heritage Short Film Competition 2018.
Ahead, we talk to the aspiring filmmaker on the inspiration behind his award-winning passion project and the importance of preserving the tradition of culinary heritage through film.
Hi Lucas, how did you first come to discover your passion for filmmaking?
When I was 14, I was part of the Media Communications club back in secondary school and I was asked to act in a sports safety video. I got hooked onto acting and then went on to pursue the various aspects of production after joining the club.
Congratulations on being awarded the Merit Award at the Singapore Heritage Short Film Competition 2018! What was the entire experience like?
It was amazing! Having to shoot during hectic situations and chasing sunlight was quite a challenge, but we pushed on nevertheless. New members of the media club were also asked to come down and contribute to the production, thus there was a lot of learning for the new members and enhancement of skills for the older members.
Your short film Sappudu, Makan, Chifan features three Singaporeans across different races and how they have bonded through food. How did the idea come about?
I remember back in secondary school, I was filming a documentary when an interviewee made the comment that “food is not food, food is the relationship”. That got me thinking – every time we eat with someone, we are bonding over food. Regardless of the race, religion or food, there is a common bond that we share with everyone, which is that we all eat together.
What do you hope people will take away with them after watching Sappudu, Makan, Chifan?
I hope they realise that the everyday chores of eating are actually moments spread across time for us to cherish. Food is one of the most prominent aspects of our daily lives, be it a good breakfast to fuel you up for the day ahead, or a warm Sunday dinner at home with your loved ones. These moments are not just meant for nourishing our body, but for motivating our souls and ending the day with gratitude.
It’s heartening to see youths getting in touch with cultural heritage and traditional cuisine. What’s your take on that?
Indeed, I strongly believe that more teenagers need to learn and embrace our cultural roots that provide them with a sense of identity wherever they go. Singapore’s unique identity comes mainly from cultural diversity. I hope that my work inspires the audience and helps them to strengthen their bond with our cultural heritage.
What are some ways you think the younger generation can do to help keep heritage food alive?
Eat! The origin of where a particular dish is from is always, and will be, an interesting story to tell. Whether it’s a dish you’re dabao-ing from your local coffee shop or your grandma’s cooking at home, find out what’s the story behind it.
Recommend three of your favourite heritage food spots!
Newton Food Centre, Leong Yeow chicken rice down Waterloo Street, and D’Rubinah Restaurant in Sembawang.
One of your inspirations includes the story of how two teenagers fell in love over air batu (ice lolly). We love a good ol’ love story – tell us more about it.
This part of the story was about creating an impression and connecting two individuals through food. Here, it was air batu that bridged this connection. People always feel the need to complicate love and the aspects surrounding it, but what we fail to recognise is that love can be conveyed through many aspects – and in this short film, it was through food. Food gives us sustenance, and with that, love does too.
What’s a piece of advice you would give to aspiring filmmakers like yourself who’s hoping to pursue a career in the film industry?
Failure doesn’t mean life is against you. Every hurdle you face is to teach you that what you want is attainable. The world is not out to get you down, but to help you. Never hold back on your ideas, and allow your creativity to take control! A senior lecturer of mine always used to say “Be bold, never rude” and that sentiment has echoed with me through many situations.
Watch Sappudu, Makan, Chifan below: