这就是Little Red Ants Creative Studio的由来。创始人分别是郑智元、陈泽华、岑康立、王一凤和傅彦钊。
五人决定申请标新局的青年企业家起步公司计划（YES!Startups）*的资金，数目多达五万元。但计划书一直被批没独特卖点（unique selling point）。泽华说，感觉对方要资助的是提供创新产品的公司，而不是提供服务的公司。“对方说我们没卖点，但他们或许没意识到创意不局限于具体的产品，而是能通过其他方面去传达。”
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It is always in retrospect that moments become poignant. When you look back at them, it becomes uncannily clear that things do happen to us for a reason, for the better, or for the worse.
On our “About Us” page, it’s stated that we “share a common interest in storytelling. For us, stories engage, educate and inspire… The ingredients for a good story have always been empathy and imagination. To this end, we work with film, photography and motion art.”
This mindset doesn’t just apply to projects that we work on. Whenever we watch a good film, we talk about the story, learn from the techniques used, or simply, gawk at the actresses (well, they’re part of the story right?). Whenever we come across a new ad campaign, we discuss the effectiveness of the concept and see how we can implement it in our future projects. Like what the late Steve Jobs said, “Good artists copy, great artists steal.”
At the end of 2 years, I’m heartened that we are still heading towards our common purpose, and this is the main reason why work doesn’t feel like work. In 2012, we will continue to pursue this with the same fervor.
This year, we have worked on projects of varying natures and requirements – dealing with kids, camping in the great outdoors, operating our gear out at sea, etc. And I have to say that some of these projects have been nothing but phenomenal. They tested our skill sets, opened our minds to new ways of storytelling, and taught us the meaning of “you never know till you’ve tried”.
We welcomed three good people into our family this year. They gave us lots of laughter, saved our asses a few times, spurred us on to do better, and sang more off tune songs than we ever thought possible.
Keyuan: Mr No-qualms came in when I was in reservist earlier this year. Within 10 months, he has become a pillar of support for us in his own understated way. Thank you for accommodating all our demands and tolerating your mad bosses. Do learn how to say “no” in 2012.
Kevin: Soft-spoken and highly perceptive, Kevin is a gem in disguise. Although he only comes in during his school breaks, he gives us a much-needed edge in post-production. Thank you for being Mr No-qualms No. 2, and for all your help in 2011. Do graduate in flying colors and join us when school is over!
Rachel: On 7th October 2011, I received an interesting request for an internship from a NUS undergraduate. This blossomed into a short 5 weeks stint for Rachel, when she tried her hand in conceptualizing, directing, editing and producing. We would have loved to let her dabble in other areas though. Nonetheless, I hope you have enjoyed your time here!
I’ll like to mention another group of people we can’t live without – our collaborators, in particular, my uncle/awesome DP Ong Boon Kok, one-man team Jean Loo (The turkey rocks! Thanks for the love!) and her cousin Jonathan. Thank you for helping us tide over the tough times.
During these peak periods, what makes or breaks a project boils down to whom we are working for. If the client is someone who is understanding, reasonable and most importantly, appreciative of our creative inputs, the project’s demands become immaterial. On the flipside, nothing hurts and discourages a creative professional more than a client who doesn’t value our thoughts, opinions and rationale. Let’s put it this way – when a sick patient visits a doctor, he/she explains all his/her ailments, trusts the doctor’s diagnosis and follows the doctor’s instructions and prescription on how to get better. Why should it be any different for the creative industry?
On hindsight, we were blessed with wonderful clients in general. Clients who listen to us, clients who discuss their ideas with us, clients who partner us to get the job done and clients who make us smile and clients who we want to go the extra mile for. Thank you.
I remember our very first presentation when our dreams were almost shattered by an ignorant gatekeeper of a grant provider. I also remember the days spent in a stuffy basement when we first started out with a single 5D Mark 2. Etched firmly in my mind, these memories serve to remind me of the perseverance that brought us thus far. And it will be the same perseverance that will push us to become even better multimedia storytellers. While we aim to grow in skill and stature, I want to remain humble and be attentive to stories in daily life that we often overlook amidst the hustle and bustle. These are the stories that will energize, inspire and delight us, in one way or another.
2012, here we come!
- Yan Zhao, 31 December 2011
When I set myself and my colleagues the task of writing self-reflection pieces, I said, “Write anything you want.” It should have been “Write anything you want, but be absolutely honest.”
Writing self-reflection pieces as a company is not an uncommon practice. It is usually done internally as a self-evaluation exercise. Often, I think, these appraisals are kept within the company and not shared with anyone else.
But if it’s worth writing, I think it is worth sharing. And if it’s honest, there is no shame.
It’s now two years after college graduation. My thoughts returned to the school days. I realized that, back then, I do not derive as much satisfaction from good grades as much as when I try something different, even radical, and then getting away with it. There are few outlets that give more joy than purposely pushing the boundaries and then getting commended for it. That is what little red ants should do. We are not there yet. But damn, do we keep trying. To be the pack leader, not rear scout.
I am naturally excited when I have ideas and I push hard for them. For the past year, I have restrained a bit and relinquish control because I am not really sure of how abrasive I might come across. But I decided that going forward, it will be in the best interest that I continue to push hard for what I think are potentially brilliant undertaking. One reason is because I have learned to trust that my team mates will forgive me for my bursts of overt enthusiasm. This company has proven itself to be tolerant of the expression of opinions. And I think we all agree that the office should be a creative battlefield.
At this year’s retreat, we’ve managed to do something that we have never done before. We decided on the three things we want to pull off next year. The three non-veto items. Although I can’t reveal them here (because we don’t want to jinx ourselves), the list is on a wall somewhere in our studio, staring at us everyday, challenging us to live up to our commitment. I think that is a testament to our focus ahead. Like many start-ups, we began on a whim and a lack of identity, with fingers crossed, growing the business with our hands instead of our head. Through a few years’ of experience, it’s becoming clearer to ourselves the kind of creative studio we want to become.
We’ve had a pretty busy year. We know it is time for some balance. As the appointed company welfare officer, I declare next year the “Year of Second Passions”. I think it is time we all go pursue with fervour something else out of work. Muay Thai? Cycling? Triathlon? Farming? A new skill? Riding a bike? Self-upgrading? During office hours, we will roll out movie screenings, book sharing corners, a photo wall that changes every 2 months, film critique sessions etc. I hope that this will refuel our energy tank.
Lastly, let us not forget how time is quickly slipping by. I like how Ai Weiwei views life. To him, it is simply an act of using up time. I like how simple that is. Now, it all boils down to how we use it.
We started young. We are older now. In time, we will grow to miss the euphemisms of youth definitely. But I think we want to look back at a period of youth not wasted.
To quote a line from William Wordsworth: “bliss was it in that dawn to be alive / but to be young was very heaven“.
That heaven is now.
An unexpected interview with LRA in February marked an exciting start and personal highlight of 2011. I joined LRA in March as a motion graphic designer and believe me, it is an amazing experience working here. This is a company with an Employer to Employee ratio of 5:1, yes I am that one and only employee surrounded by 5 amazing and rather amusing boss. It is overwhelming at first to be the sole employee but it all become clear that there are no differentiation of classes in this company; all ants are equal but some ants are more equal than others.
Although there are the occasional hurling of physical abuse from one of the female co-workers and verbal abuse from the rest of the male co-workers, they are all but in the name of good old fun. One can pretty much guess that the company is a long standing culture of having fun at workplace, everyday in LRA is a day filled with laughter (and good food).
I am looked and treated upon as a friend rather then a mere employee, which makes life in office an enjoyable one. But at a corporate level, my well being as an employee was never overlooked, self improvement fund (which landed me a canon 50mm 1.4 lens) and birthday lunch are some of the numerous welfare entitlement’s scheme dished out by the 5 bosses. I really appreciate their effort in recognizing and integrating me into the future plan of LRA.
The highlight of 2011 is definitely the helicopter shot of KL and of course seeing Stephanie Sun in person (my kind colleague Kevin reminded me to add in Fandi’s shoot too). I have grown a lot and learnt a hell lot more here, from the unfamiliar filming on DSLR to the lighting of a set, literally picking up new skills and knowledge on a daily basis. Getting hands on experience in almost every part of the production pipeline is what I joined LRA for and I am grateful to be given these opportunities.
2011 had been a year of plenty, plenty of laughter, plenty of new friends and plenty of learning opportunities. With just a few more days left before the dawn of 2012, there is much to look forward to, much to learn and much to improve on a personal level.
Ants’ life is never boring, busy yet fulfilling, with amazing support and teamwork.
As the year closes, I think back to my beginning with LRA. Barely six months ago, after I ORDed from the army, I was faced with a dilemma on whether to settle for a full time job or pursue higher studies. Eventually, I decided to continue my studies at Lasalle, College of the Arts – Puttnam School of Film. With that in place I decided to look for work. I was apprehensive at first at whether I would find a company who would be willing to accept my schedule arrangements, and feared that my skills would not be as sharp, as I not practice my craft for the two years I served in the army.
Surprisingly, I did manage to receive employment offers from several production house, that offered full time rates. Just as I had just accepted an offer to work with another local production company, I decided to revisit LRA’s website though they are not hiring. I applied, interviewed and got the job at LRA, but was only offered the position as an intern, one-third the rate I was previously offered by another company. My mother was furious to hear I had opted to chose a lower paying position that was even further away from my home than the initial job offer. But I was not just looking for a job or good pay, I was looking for a conducive environment to practice my craft, and essentially I was looking for a company with a good work culture. With the support of my girlfriend and my older brother, I was confident that I had made the right choice.
And although I have only been with LRA for under a year, I am grateful for this opportunity. I have watched them progress on a corporate level, while still maintaining a sense of ease, friendship and partnership within the family that is LRA.
- Kevin Yeoh
Two years on, 10 reasons why I still love to come to work.
1. Has it been two years?
2. We’re still in it to tell a good story. This year, we had opportunities to document meaningful stories about fostering, mentoring for youths-at-risk and the restoration of the Klang river in Kuala Lumpur.
3. We made our first foray overseas to Nanjing, interviewed former President Nathan and went up on a helicopter ride!
4. We caught two big whales in the form of Keyuan – our super nice motion graphics designer who eats up all the biscuits in office, and Kevin – our big friendly giant who has been an amazing editor.
5. We can tease and banter with each other, and still laugh it off later – not without some smacks, awkward silences, expletives or swooshes depending on who gets aggravated.
6. We’re still growing and pushing our limits, learning new skills, finding better ways to improve our workflow and production value – it’s a never-ending process that’s enjoyable in itself.
7. We have 3 cars + 1 company van, but every lunch, we will attempt the impossible to squeeze all 7 of us into 1 car. We’d like to think it’s a way of company bonding but really, it’s a matter of prime lots.
8. When one person goes down, we all go down – together! That includes falling sick from Keyuan’s spreading cough and bombing Kevin to write a blogpost with us to end the year
9. Right now we’re still fighting over who’s writing what first and how long their blog post is …
10. There are times when work does feel like work. But for every day of this, there are many more days of fun and laughter that come along with it. So thank you little red ants for making this journey worth the ride.
Thanksgiving is one holiday we don’t celebrate in Singapore. Celebrated primarily in North America, it was originally meant to give thanks for a good harvest, and to rejoice together after much hard work with the rest of the community during the year.
That’s what I want to do here, because I feel that this time of year is important to take stock of the lessons learn in the past 12 months, to give thanks to the people who have helped you through, to celebrate and fortify ourselves for the challenges ahead.
Nothing is more important or essential to Little Red Ants than our clients. This year, we’ve met many who believe in our creative direction and vision and were willing to let us craft their videos for them, and we say thank you to these special people. Thank you for everything you’ve helped us with, especially the teachers who took time off from their busy schedules to help us with the videos, Gladys, Jingfang and Audrey, who lent their support and believed in us. Special thanks to Nizam, Yun Shan, Cher Ling, Lina, Mabel and Jing Yun for trusting us and being there on late night and weekend shoots with us. But that’s not all the clients we have. Thankfully. To everyone we’ve worked with, thank you and hopefully, we’ll get more chances to work together in the future.
To give thanks once more, we managed to have a successful retreat this year! In Penang no less. Which brings me to the next group of people I’ll like to give thanks for.
To Darren – Like what a certain interviewer said, you’re the rock upon which Little Red Ants is built upon. For your dedication, for your technical knowledge, for the scratches in your car, for your skill with black tape and for your strength, thank you.
To Kang Li – Like the same interviewer said, you’re the deep thinker who takes everything in and churns out super-lame jokes. For that, for your willingness to try new stuff, for being the company welfare officer, thank you.
To Yan Zhao – We’ve been spending lesser time together (that’s 2 hours of my life back) and you’ve a red sportsvan to drive now! For your ideas, for your concepts, for your emails and for your berting (that’s PR to you) skills, thank you.
To Adeline – T-Rex has found happiness! For keeping me company while I drive you to Shalom, for helping me with CPF, for your wonderful artworks and penmanship, for editing everything and for taking 1.5 hours to come to work everyday, thank you.
To Keyuan – To summarize, Keyuan is LRA’s very first employee! He finds it weird to work in a company where bosses outnumber him, but he has since grown resigned to his fate. For your willingness to learn, for the amount of time you’ve saved us from looking for another motion graphics artist, for your horrible font choices and spelling mistakes, thank you.
To Kevin – You’ve been a very welcome addition to our lives. For editing bloody fast fast, for introducing bands to me, for the welcomed kopi during your breaks, thank you.
To all our collaborators young and old, to our talents, to everyone who worked with us this year, a big thank you!
I think that Little Red Ants has grown through the past year. And we’re all proud of its growth. From 5Ds to the new Sony FS100, from scratching our cars with the massive new crane to the spanking red sportsvan, from 5 ants to a whole company of ants, we’ve come a long way. But the hard part is always just ahead.
For 2012, my possible goal is to start learning again. Although time management is always a little tricky, there’s no time like now to start. Learn new techniques; learn to tell stories a little differently, or with a fresh eye or a new perspective. Learn a new language, or relearn an old one or learn skills that I should have learned long ago (swimming for instance).
So, let’s put the thanksgiving on hold and look forward to a renewed 2012. Happy New Year!
It’s the time of the year again for some reflection and thoughts. In general 2011 has been good to us.
2011 is a year of many things for us.
We jumped on a coast guard boat, flew to Nanjing to test our mandarin, shot in a lup-sup bar, tried a full fledged animation project, shot from a helicopter, visited at least 20 parks, collaborated with Mark Lee and Suhaimi, filmed our former President and many more.
I guess 2011 is more than just achievements, 2011, for me is a good year because of the relationships with people that have developed.
Guess one of the highlights of 2011 is that we, as a company welcomed Mr Ng into our family, firstly, plugging a shortage in talent for motion graphics and also simply because he’s not only a good colleague but a good friend.
Another pleasant surprise was an intern editor, Kevin, who came out of nowhere to help fill our editing needs. It’s a bittersweet story because, Kevin, decided that he wanted to further his studies in La Salle’s degree programme and can thus only help out during term breaks. As much as we would like Kevin to come on board with us, we recognise his desire for a degree as well.
I guess 2011 marked a year where LRA really grew, not only in size but I believe is maturing into something we all set out in the first place. To be purveyors of stories. 2011 also marked a year when I feel that everyone in the company has developed above and beyond being just technically proficient, but also growing as content creatives in our own right.
We, as a company, always believe the experience of the relationship is more important than the product, simply because, a good product is taken as a given, but a good experience in whatever dealings is, in our opinion, priceless. To that end, we’re really thankful for our clients, for mostly trusting our creative direction and allowing us to better our work, and who have through the course of the year, become our friends. In a nutshell, a heartmost thank you to those whom I’ve had correspondence with. Please forgive me if I miss out on any names. =)
From NYP: Lina chong, Amanda, Rachel
From PA: Cher Ling, Jing Yun, Yun Shan, Felicia, Boon Heng, Kaijuan, Iswandie
From Canon: Ed Tan, Celeste, Jin Feng
From Contact Singapore: Rafidah, Parveen
From SSC: Diana Seng, Rainbow, Zhenni
From MCYS: Lai Peng, Chee Meng
From Nparks: Nigel, Ellen, Carrie, Rachel
From Arup: Franklyn, Jenny
From Fuji Xerox: Martin
From Cathay Photo: Jimmy
From Line Media: Boon Kok
From NHB: Nor Faiz, Grace
From PSB: Karen
From Visual Collective: Huiyu
To all, Thank you and may we all have an excellent 2012!
Last month, together with a host of other local companies, we travelled to Nanjing on a business mission to meet the Nanjing Youth Olympic Games Organising Committee (YOGOC). The aim was to share our experience in the inaugural Singapore YOG 2010 and to gain a better understanding of Nanjing’s preparations.
But a small problem arose. We aren’t exactly eloquent in Chinese and we didn’t want to make a fool of ourselves by stammering in front of the committee.
Hence, we went round the problem and tried something different with our very own host and voiceover talent.
The only way to enjoy a turkey is to eat it with bare hands. Thanks Jean for popping by with a nice surprise!
Trying out the sauces
The turkey which fed 8 people.
Darren insisted that the meal was too carnivorous and decided to buy some greens from Sheng Siong supermarket. He also bought some popiah skin and made turkey burritos with it.
Keyuan shows off the wine bottle.
Adeline has second, or was it third, helpings?
Combining Xmas lunch with Kang Li’s birthday celebration
He cringes when we sang him a birthday song
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