You Do...What? Episode 4: Film Archivist

To Chew Tee Pao, restoring and preserving films is equivalent to preserving a part of our lives. PHOTO: ZAOBAO.SG

He races against time to save filmstrip rolls that are poorly taken care of - and gives them a new lease of life.

Movies were recorded on filmstrips in the early days, and they have since become an important part of cinematography history. But preserving them is no easy task, especially in hot and humid Southeast Asia.

34-year-old veteran film archivist Chew Tee Pao has been working for nine years at the Asian Film Archive (AFA), a non-profit organisation founded in January 2005 to promote the appreciation of cinematography art through preservation of old Singapore and Asian films.

To date, the AFA has cleaned nearly 1000 reels and it has a collection of nearly 1900 film titles, including Eric Khoo's Mee Pok Man (1995), Chinese director Chen Kaige's Yellow Earth (1984), as well as Chun Kim's Moon Over Malaya (1957).

Tee Pao joined the AFA as an intern in 2009 after graduating from university to find out more about this lesser-known occupation. He soon fell in love with his job and decided to stay on as a permanent employee.

He said:"To me, restoring and preserving films is like preserving family photo albums. It's preserving a part of our lives."

In this episode of You Do...What?, host Toh Yan Wei looks at some damaged filmstrips, tries to clean them, and watches L. Krishnan's Orang Minyak (1958) , one of the restored films, with Tee Pao. The restoration of this film took more than half a year. How challenging and meaningful is Tee Pao's job? Watch to find out!

About "You Do...What?"

As technology advances, some jobs that were non-existent in the past have emerged, while some other jobs have withstood the test of time.

In this 7-part series, join host Toh Yan Wei (Chinese Media Group NewsHub Journalist) as she gets hands-on experience with some unconventional jobs in a journey of new discoveries.

"You Do...What?" is one of 16 short-form video series produced by Singapore Press Holdings (SPH), as part of the second season of SPH's Public Service Broadcast content. A new episode is uploaded on to the website and mobile app every fortnight, starting from 21 August 2018. All episodes come with Chinese and English subtitles

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