Good food is what most Singaporeans hold dear to their hearts. So it came as no surprise that my classmates and I were very keen to participate in a Singapore Hawker Style Video Competition. In fact, we knew about the contest through Facebook and wanted to join even before our lecturer told us about it. The best part of this competition is that we had so much fun with filming and even got an award for our video submissions!
The competition was organised in conjunction with the annual food hunt event, City Hawker Food Hunt, which aims to promote Singapore’s hawker culture. We decided to do two videos because we had different ideas in mind. We were glad that in the end, both our videos won Merit Awards!
Let me tell you more about this project. The first thing we did was to conduct research on the hawker centres and local food in Singapore. It was a real eye opener for us. We realised that many of the hawker centres have been around for quite some time and some of them have long histories. We decided to do both our videos in Seah Im Food Centre because of its long history and fantastic location.
One of the videos we did was called “A Day in a Life of a Hawker”. It features Mr Siao, a chicken rice stall owner in a coffee shop located in a small but classy neighborhood in Siglap. The video showcases Mr Siao’s daily routine as a chicken rice stall owner. We tried our best to show Mr Siao’s passion and hard work to deliver the best service and chicken rice to his customers.
We also had to convince Mr Siao to allow us to film him at his workspace as he preferred to conduct the interview in the comfort of his home. In addition, we also conducted a sit down interview with some of his loyal customers who were at the coffee shop.
It wasn’t easy and we faced many challenges with the filming. For example, we had to follow Mr Siao around for one whole day. My teammate Alvin Choo was up early at 5am in order to film the preparation work being carried out before the start of the day. There was also insufficient lighting in the morning and space constraints in Mr Siao’s workspace. We had trouble finding a good angle that could hold all our equipment.
Thus, we hand held our shot instead of using a tripod. We did not want to trouble Mr Siao and other hawkers to move their items in their stall as they were busy serving their customers.
The other video is called “Multicultural Flavors”. This video showcases the most popular types of hawker dishes that are usually served and enjoyed by the multi-racial community in Singapore. Our team carefully selected four different stalls that best represent the local flavours in Singapore.
However, one of the stall owners who previously agreed to be filmed changed his mind on filming day. We had to search for another stall during the filming day itself. Thankfully, we managed to convince another drink stall owner to allow us to film his shop.
While interviewing the hawkers, we also learnt some of the hardships that they go through and some of their concerns. On top of each interview, we also did a few interviews with customers who patronised the stalls, hoping to receive additional information from them.
We managed to overcome other challenges in filming both videos. One of these was finding a conducive filming environment. When we first visited Seah Im Food Centre for a test shoot, we realised that the lighting there was very dim. The hawker centre was very noisy as well, due to the crowd and the sound of cooking. Thankfully, on the actual day of shooting, we managed to find and bring the proper equipment to aid us with the lighting and sound problems.
Some of the other challenges we faced included getting the hawkers to set some time for us. Business hours start as early as 8am for some of them and most were unable to meet our interview requests as they were usually busy preparing for the lunch crowd. We understood that they also had to make a livelihood and did not want to impose on them. So we accommodated to their timings as best as we could.
However, our team felt a sense of accomplishment when we finally completed the videos. Our hard work was recognised and appreciated. At the same time we are happy to have participated in this project because we learnt to appreciate the hawkers’ hard work and also managed to provide an insight into the little details of hawkers’ lives. Being there for an entire week has definitely shown us how hardworking and passionate a hawker has to be to succeed.
Through the videos, we hope to help our viewers further understand the hardships our hawkers go through, how they became hawkers and what puts a smile on their faces each day.
Check out our finished videos below!
A Day in the Life of a Hawker
One of the happiest moments for me was showing our featured hawker Mr Siao the completed video. He loved the video so much that he told us he wanted to show it to everyone who visits his place. He was also glad that he helped us win an award.
I would like thank my Mass Media Management teammates Alvin Choo, Nazeera Hamid and Esmeraldo Intervalo for being such great team members! Alvin was the main cameraperson for both videos, Esmeraldo assisted in the audio recording, Nazeera assisted in the subtitling and scriptwriting, while I was the editor for Multicultural flavours. Filming the videos was definitely a great learning experience for all of us!
The Singapore Hawker Style Video Competition was jointly organised by City Gas and Shin Min Daily News and supported by the National Environment Agency and Health Promotion Board.
By Nadira Binte Mohamed Zolfakur, Year 3, Diploma in Mass Media Management