During the early period of COVID-19, I was working part-time as a Safety and Security Officer at a government quarantine facility and also served as a swab assistant at Changi Airport. Many of the patients I interacted with shared how they had been socially responsible but still contracted COVID. People were weary with the everchanging restrictions, and contracting COVID felt like a game of chance. I thought it would be meaningful to tell this story. The title “Posi+ive” is a wordplay expressing what the film is about: staying positive during the pandemic/being COVID-positive.
Originally, my script had more scenes representing what we were facing in Singapore. However, as the COVID regulations evolved and the assignment brief was amended, I had to work around the changes and restrictions. Ironically, the script I worked on became reality before I even started filming. Friends who’d agreed to help me out in the film contracted COVID despite being very careful. These challenges pushed me to further simplify my film while maintaining its essence.
In order to reduce the team’s risk of exposure to COVID, I decided to shoot at just four locations with three talents (myself included). To simulate the different phases of COVID in Singapore, I meticulously selected and extracted news broadcasts from Channel NewsAsia and had them playing on TV or as background audio; they serve an important role in conveying the timeline and the state of the pandemic in Singapore. Sound is especially crucial in carrying the emotion and direction of the story sinceI had challenged myself to create a short film without dialogue. For instance, I used the whistling of the kettle in one scene to capture the pressure building up as the protagonist spends day after day cooped up indoors.
The outdoor swabbing scene was inspired by my time working in swabbing stations situated at either open or sheltered carparks. I set the swabbing station on the rooftop of a multi-storey carpark with our iconic landscape of HDB flats in the background. Visually, the pipes, pillars, and light rain add a sense of suspense as the protagonist anxiously goes to get tested. I utilised my own Personal Protective Equipment (the blue PPE swabbers wore) to keep the film as realistic as possible. At the same time, it creates a bit of a dystopian feel to the scene, as if masked people might swoop in anytime.
This unsettlling feeling was our reality during that stage of COVID, and it is a story I hope resonates with people. It was a fulfilling experience making this simple yet meaningful film.