DSH: Hello Betaphats! Could you share with us what you guys do?
BTP: Hello, my name is Melvin Ong and I am the founder of my humble video production company, Betaphats Studios. Betaphats Studios is a small video production studio where we focus on creating videos mainly for web. Our services focuses mainly on both the production (eg. Filming, Audio Recording) and post production (eg. Video Editing, Color Grading, Audio Mixing and mastering) side of things.
DSH: What was the idea behind the name Betaphats?
BTP: It’s actually quite a silly thing but I’ll try to explain. When I was young, I was a fat kid and people would call me “fats”, I grew used to the name and decided to use Phats as my nickname (mainly for IRC back then)
As I grew older, I gone through a transformation where I’m no longer fat anymore, I decided to add the beta prefix which was signifies a change or a new version hence the name Betaphats which was my new nickname (mainly for MSN then..)
The name stuck with me throughout and most of my friends know me as Betaphats so I decided not to change a thing. You know.. Keep it real. Haha.
DSH: Keeping it real! We love that! Cool, well what got you to start Betaphats?
BTP: I was going through a quarter life crisis and I did not know what to do, after a period of soul searching and figured that I wanted to be a producer. I didn’t really know what kind of producer I wanted to be or what I was capable of but at that time, my inner gut told me to get into music production and with my brother’s encouragement, I did!
I went all in and spend whatever little money I had on a Guitar, a keyboard controller, an audio interface and a set of studio monitors and started getting to know other music producers who were producing awesome stuff. I also signed up for a London Based online music production school which my dad kindly paid for, which accelerated my learning and understanding of Logic Pro, a pretty complex music software used today for music production. As a self made music producer, I did everything I knew to do musically but I just did not understand the business aspect of things. Soon I was really broke and had to look for a job.
Luckily for me, I was offered a position with Home Club for awhile as a marketing manager. When I was in, I suggested to work on their video profile. I got to hone my skills as a one man army working and understanding the craft of Video production. I even crashed into a few classes at SAE Institute which was directly above Home Club and they were kind enough to let me use their fancy equipments for the club’s use. This went on for 6 months and with much persuasion from my ex, I finally left and started out on my own.
DSH: How did you feel at that point when you decided to start out on your own?
BTP: There were definitely uncertainties, you never know when you will get the next pay check and you have no other option but to make it work. I felt really lost at times and there were a lot of figuring out. What I’ve learnt is to always include the business aspect into your craft.
As for the craft itself, I always believe it has to be good by default without a question. But that alone is not the answer to you getting hired for what you do. Business is still crucial in the equation.
DSH: Was it difficult to start your own studio? What was the most challenging thing for you?
BTP: For me, I had a lot of support from my family and my ex girlfriend. Without them I wouldn’t be able to start my business. I guess the most challenging thing for me is to maintain discipline since I control most of my time and I get to dictate how I use my time, it gets confusing at times and sometimes, I wonder if I’m doing the right thing. There is no guide on how to be your own boss.
DSH: What is your philosophy behind what you do?
BTP: We constantly remind ourselves, that how you do anything is how you do everything. Ultimately, you are a reflection of what you produce, what you listen to, what you watch, what you wear and what your influences are.
DSH: What is the best part about what you do?
BTP: As a business owner, we are not confined to conventional rules. We create our own rules and we live by them. I think that’s the best part about what I do (amongst many many other things)
DSH: What have you guys been up to lately? Any interesting works/projects you’ve done or are working on?
BTP: We are currently working on a short documentary for Palladium Boots and a cooking instructional video for Carlsberg.
Palladium Boots is a company based in US and they have an ongoing “Explorer Series” where they get influencers all around the world to introduce their country through their eyes. For Singapore, I am thankful to be the one documenting my brother, Mark (Mr Sabotage), who is a well known artist in his industry. He recently released his very own design through Palladium Boots and they figured Mark would be the best candidate to be the main subject for the Explorer Series on Singapore.
What’s interesting for me is that I am going a little out of my comfort zone this round to explore film techniques that I’ve not done before. Shooting completely handheld in several instances, capturing time-lapse footage, work on a rough hyper lapse etc.
DSH: How would you describe the film industry? Or in general the creative industry in Singapore at the moment?
BTP: To be honest, I’m not very in touch with the entire film industry in general in Singapore to comment much. I know a few production company whom I look up to such as no average Joe and midlife crisis, both whom have much more experience than myself in the film industry.. however I believe we are producing very different stuff altogether and we are influenced by different genres.
I’ve been blessed to come into the film industry where technology is readily available. It’s true that you could produce something decent with tools readily available and accessible. I mean I started out borrowing my friends DSLR and working with iMovie that comes pre installed in every Mac. I can only imagine how difficult it must be to work on a simple task such as applying a cut or a cross dissolve in the past and it makes me appreciate how easy everything is now.
At the moment, I feel that we are going through a technological advancement at a rapid pace and it is really crucial to keep up and not fall behind too much knowledge wise. I believe in working smart and perhaps because I’m extremely impatient, it helps me find technology fast to work on the same task faster and easier.
DSH: What would be your dream for our local creative industry?
BTP: My dream as a self made entrepreneur / film producer is to be empower talented individuals to continue / pursue their craft / passion as a full time career.
DSH: What do you think we need to do as a community to grow our precious industry?
BTP: Travel and see the world, focus on what inspires you to create, never stop learning.
DSH: What is one thing that you are proud of about our local creative industry?
BTP: From what I see, I feel more people are pursuing their talents and craft despite our societies influence on most people to get a generic job. I guess you could say I’m really proud of these individuals for taking the path less travelled.
DSH: What can we expect from Betaphats in the coming year and the future?
BTP: We are currently swamp with projects at the moment but we are really happy to be in this situation. After all, it’s not everytime we get to be this busy. I hope that we will be this busy throughout the year no doubt
On our own, we have taken a liking in Japanese fashion, Mainly Neighborhood, Wtaps and Visvim which we draw so much of our philosophy from in terms of their approach to their craft. I hope to be able to work on a documentary on these brands someday down the road.
Check them out here:
Photos courtesy of Betaphats Studio.