Jedd Jong (jeddthejedi) - Super Special Interview #8
Updated: 2 days ago
1) Introduce yourself! I'm Jedd and I'm a writer and film critic. I mainly write about films and have written for publications including F*** Magazine, inSing and Catchplay+. I currently write for KrisWorld, the in-flight entertainment magazine on Singapore Airlines. I've done a bunch of things, including talking about movies on the radio, writing scripts for short government/corporate videos and guest-lecturing in film studies courses. I make custom action figures as a hobby.
2) Why do you do what you do? I really love movies and grew up being interested in how movies are made. Filmmaking is such a collaborative art form, and I think it's fun to find out how all the pieces fit together. I enjoy learning things about movies and seeing the work that results when people love what they're doing and are good at it. I tried to centre my work around what I'm passionate about, which I wouldn't necessarily recommend for everyone, but I feel like that was the only option for me. I had to find a way to incorporate my love for movies into my work somehow, and I haven't been entirely successful at it, but I have tried.
3) Who or what inspires you? This ties back to your previous question. I think a big thing that inspires me is behind-the-scenes documentaries and special features on Blu-rays and DVDs. Growing up, I would watch as many as I could to learn about what goes into making movies. I was especially interested in special effects from before the use of CGI to around the cusp of when CGI was becoming widespread. Movies like Jurassic Park, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Terminator 2: Judgement Day, E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial and Back to the Future were very influential for me. I think lately, I've been very inspired by the podcast Blank Check With Griffin and David, in which the hosts cover the complete filmography of a given director, spending one episode per movie (sometimes two are covered in one episode). They've done miniseries on filmmakers including Lee Ang, M. Night Shyamalan, James Cameron, Stanley Kubrick, Tim Burton, Jane Campion, Hayao Miyazaki, Sam Raimi and Robert Zemeckis, so there's a lot of listen to. At the time of writing, they're starting on their Park Chan-Wook miniseries.
4) How is your experience being a creator in Singapore? I think over the course of my career, I've seen the landscape of the media industry change a lot. I would be lying if I said it wasn't challenging. I have worked for several outlets that have since shut down, and I think I was caught in the middle of the death of print and trying to adapt to writing online. I've seen the industry turn to overwhelmingly favour influencers over writers and journalists, which has been frustrating. While a lot of influencers do genuinely love the movies they're talking about, I feel like broadly speaking, expertise has become less and less valued over clicks and views, so it doesn't matter that I've been doing this for over ten years. Longer-form writing is increasingly vanishing, because the current social media machine is basically a wave generator, a churn. I genuinely miss being able to attend movie press conferences and participate in roundtable interviews. I'm trying as hard as I can to stay in the sphere, but it often feels like I'm hanging on by my fingernails. I've also done a lot of stuff for free and I feel like sometimes how much I love this has been taken advantage of.
5) What do you wish would happen in Singapore to help creators? I wish there were more opportunities to fail - and that the word "fail" shouldn't have the negative connotation it has. I think there need to be resources available for creators to try things without the fear that failure will ruin their lives. I think there also needs to be less of a fundamental hostility towards the arts in general. This certainly isn't only a problem Singapore has, but I think we gravitate so much towards the next shiny thing, and often the next thing that is perceived to make lots of money, that we sacrifice the development of the arts at the altar of profit. Honestly, I can't say if it's private benefactors or government support that is the definitive answer. I feel like Singapore as an ecosystem can feel so crushing for anyone who is remotely creative.
6) What are your goals? "Earn X amount of money" was one of the examples you gave as an answer to this question. I don't fault you at all, but I find that extremely dispiriting. Honestly, I think that having everything reduced to a dollar value, having your worth as a person reduced to a dollar value, has affected me a lot. Everyone needs money to live, but thinking solely in those terms can be very restrictive and can hurt. I think that only focusing on what can turn a profit is what has pushed many people like me out of this industry. My goal is simply to keep writing and talking about movies and hopefully to be able to make a living doing so. I will admit to feeling a lot of envy when I see film journalists do one-on-one interviews with actors and filmmakers online, and I wish I had that opportunity. I think a lot has crumbled out from under me, but I know that's something many people in the same field in Singapore can relate to.
7) Where can people find and support you? I post all my movie reviews on jeddjong.net. My Instagram accounts are @jedithemovieguy for movie reviews and @jeddthejedi for toy photos and other stuff. I'm on Letterboxd at letterboxd.com/JediTheMovieGuy/.
8) Anything else you want to share? I think everyone has to ask for help at some point - my advice is not to be afraid to ask for help, but also to be mindful when you do so and to try not to impose. It's a tricky balance to strike, but I think you have to phrase things in a way that makes people want to help you and doesn't make them find you annoying, which is, of course, subjective.
9) Give a shoutout to other local creators!
I'll give a shoutout to my good friend and geek sister Tina Gan, who does geek lifestyle blogging as Red Dot Diva (@RedDotDiva on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter). She does livestreams in which she interviews Southeast Asian creators including comic book artists, actors, filmmakers, writers and cosplayers. I've been a guest on her livestream several times alongside other guests including John Yeow and Atty Rosle to review movies including The Batman, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse and The Flash.