Singapore has roped in award-winning filmmaker Royston Tan to produce a sexy, Black Mirror-style interactive movie to turn the youth away from drugs.
High launched online today and lets viewers guide main character Nick through a series of choices. Will he meet up with a girl named Sienna from a dating app? Up to you! Will he embark on a drug-fueled escapade with her? Up to you! Will life lessons be imparted? You can bet on it.
Viewers can interact with the film by deciding Nick’s moves, which ultimately lead to one of several endings.
If you’ve watched the sci-fi Netflix series Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, you’ll know how it works. At the end of the movie, viewers can ask questions about drug abuse through the site’s online chat platform.
Nick and Sienna are portrayed by hometown actors Shawn Thia and Naomi Yeo, respectively. The movie was directed by Tan, whose inter-generational and -cultural friendship work Bunga Sayang won a 2016 award at the Sapporo International Short Film Festival.
The movie was funded by the National Council Against Drug Abuse in a bid to spark conversation about the use of drugs among the younger generation, who stats show make up the bulk of Singapore’s new drug users.
According to a 2019 drug report by the Central Narcotics Bureau, Singaporeans under 30 accounted for 61% of first-time, drug-related arrests in 2018. Methamphetamine was increasingly said to be the drug of choice.
The movie High also appears to be the anti-drug council’s counter response to what it describes as “prodrug narratives” in the mass culture.
“Youth today are constantly faced with prodrug narratives which are shaping their attitudes, to be more liberal, towards drugs … With this campaign, we hope to engender greater cognizance of the larger context of pro-drug narratives, and the importance of building empathy and anti-drug advocacy amongst our youth,” council chairman Hawazi Daipi said in a news release. The campaign is partially funded by the Tote Board, which channels revenues collected from the gambling industry.
While parts of the world are beginning to back away from stringent attitudes about recreational drug use, Singapore remains strict on its portrayal in the media. Last month, Netflix reported that its removal of five movies at the government’s request, three of which were weed movies Cooking On High, The Legend Of 420 and Disjointed.
We also have pretty strict laws on drug abuse. Those found guilty of consuming drugs face 10 months in jail and a S$20,000 (US$14,000) fine.
More news from the Little Red Dot at Coconuts.co/Singapore.
This article, Get ‘High’ on this sexy, Black Mirror-style interactive film by Singaporean director Royston Tan, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!