Singapore Airlines : SIA Focus

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Agency: Spafax

Brief: To provide passengers with news about changes and improvements to the Singapore Airlines service.

Solution: A magazine-style video shown during flight.  A new show was made every month, with a running time varying between ten and twenty minutes, depending on the number of stories the client wanted to tell that month.

My role: Producer, writer, director

Comments: I left Spafax as their head of production in December 1993.  The very next day I landed my first freelance commission, to create this news magazine programme for one of Spafax’s key clients.  So it is an old job, but one I wanted to include here because it was very important to me at the time — it ran for three-and-a-half years — and because I think it effectively demonstrates my skills as a producer, co-ordinating with a client and arranging a monthly production half-way around the world.

The first thing I had to do was to find a team of people to help me make the programme every month in Singapore.  I spent a couple of weeks there, auditioning presenters, and finding a local production co-ordinator who could organize film crew, including a director — it would not have made economic sense for me to go to Singapore myself every month for a day’s filming.   I was so happy with the presenter I found — Sylvia Lee.  She did such a brilliant job.  After three years the client was keen to find a new ‘face’, but with the pool of talent available in a very small country like Singapore, we never found anyone who compared to Sylvia.

I directed the first few programmes myself, to set the style and to iron out any ongoing production issues.  After that, every month I would write a detailed shooting script, listing every shot I needed to tell the story.  After the shoot the production co-ordinator would pass the video tapes to the Spafax office in Singapore, who would then send them on an SIA flight to London, where I would edit the programme (in those days I still worked with an editor), and add a voice-over (my own, which the Singapore Airlines client liked!)  Two or three times a year I did fly out to Singapore myself, for a particularly complicated shoot, or when the client asked me to make a special programme: on SIA’s inflight catering operation, for example.

It was a bit of a production line, but it was very much my baby, and I enjoyed making every one of the 42 programmes.

The clip shown here is a montage of shots from some of the shows.