Andrew Ngin
5 min readMay 13

or the art of communication

I was a scriptwriter for more than ten years. I am still writing. I recently decided to take the plunge and direct something I have written.

When you take up the mantle of a director, you must put aside the writer’s hat. Like how the army breaks down the civilian in you to tiny atoms and begins to build you back up as a soldier, I had to bury my obsession with words and take up a new focus with visuals and other matters. I was painfully reminded of my new-found role as director when the assistant director asked me if I intended to schedule a pedicure for the actress to ensure her feet looked nice because I had written “CLOSE UP of foot”.

I had not thought about it.

I had to think about it as I am no longer the writer.

Here’s some lessons I learnt as a first-time director of a short film.

A Director Must Communicate Clearly

When I write my scripts, it helps when I know who is directing my words. I would then write in a style that I hoped the director would appreciate, much like how comic writers tend to write in a way that appeals to the artists who are transforming their words into visuals. But, most importantly, I have to write in a manner that precisely communicates the story intent to the director.

And now that I am the director, it is my job to communicate the script intent to everyone on the team. By everyone, I mean the art department, the camera crew, the makeup and wardrobe, and your editors and sound designers.

It can be tricky, as you have to speak in a language that everyone can understand. You cannot go into long monologues on theme and metaphors unless you want to see the eyes of your editor or wardrobe person glaze.

I had to go back to my script and ask myself –

If I can summarise the film in one word, what would that be?

Andrew Ngin

Man In The Arena . Once a lecturer. Written television, films, short stories. Older. Singaporean. Still writing. Always with love