Taking on Tinseltown

A psychology degree led JCU Singapore graduate Jasper Ng to a media powerhouse in the film industry

JCU psychology graduate, Mr Jasper Ng, joined post-production house Infinite Studios as a versioning editor after he discovered his passion for content creation. PHOTO: TED CHEN

A fictional team of scientists and soldiers - the familiar faces of Hollywood heavyweights Tom Hiddleston and Samuel L. Jackson among them - plans a search for primeval creatures on an island. A giant ape emerges from the flames, fiery embers reflected in its wrathful eyes.

Many would recognise these two clips from the visually arresting trailer for 2017 blockbuster Kong: Skull Island. But few can say that they have had a part to play in it. Mr Jasper Ng, 27, is one of the lucky few.

As a versioning editor at media company Infinite Studios, which operates film studios in Singapore and Batam, he creates promotional trailers for Hollywood movies, like Kong: Skull Island and Collateral Beauty. He is also in charge of packaging videos to fit various distribution channels and social media platforms.

Working in post-production, however, was not something that he set out to do from the start. While pursuing a Bachelor of Psychological Science degree programme at the Singapore campus of James Cook University (JCU) from 2016 to April this year, he thought of starting a career in research or academia.

"I was a medic during my National Service and I wanted to study something that could help people," he says. "After going through biomedical science, I found that JCU's psychology programme was the most suitable for me."

He admits that even as he started university, he was still unsure about what he wanted to do in life. "I was just taking things one step at a time to find out what I was interested in."

Discovering his passion

What attracted him to the Singapore campus of James Cook University is that it is a wholly owned campus of James Cook University Australia. It is also the only Australian institution in Singapore to be recognised with university status, which was a plus point for Mr Ng.

With the trimester system, he could complete the course in two years full-time and was able to take additional elective modules that appealed to his interests.

"The ability to select our own elective modules definitely kept things fresh and allowed me to try out different fields," he says.

After taking an elective marketing module, he learnt to apply its principles to his daily life, creating social media posts and YouTube videos to recruit members for his co-curricular activity, cheerleading.

The excitement he felt from this brush with marketing led him to apply for an internship at marketing start-up Thinktechniq, where he was tasked with creating promotional videos for clients. It was then that he realised he was being "pulled" towards the field of content creation. Soon after, like a stroke of serendipity, a friend told him about a job opportunity at Infinite Studios.

He says: "That was the foot in the door that I needed to break into the media and broadcast business, especially for someone without a paper qualification in the industry."

Mr Ng believes that his background in psychology is useful for understanding what makes audiences tick, which is an important skill for someone working in the media industry. PHOTO: TED CHEN

Connecting to audiences

Mr Ng may not be working in the field of psychology, but he says that his degree has helped him to understand what makes audiences tick - an important skill to have in the media industry.

It has also improved his communication skills, which help him to build rapport with producers, graphic designers and sound engineers to realise each project's creative vision.

The versioning editor hopes to leverage his education in psychology to get a job in production. His goal is to produce a show that highlights the struggles of people with psychological issues.

"Broadcast still holds a great deal of power in shaping how society thinks and feels, and I would like to use that as a way to reduce the stigma of mental disorders and help people."

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