Storytelling in Singapore

Storytelling for businesses . Singapore.

Intimately knowing filmmaker Eileen Chong, I know with certainty that beneath the unconventional, goofy and half-intended-scruffy-exterior, lies incredible insight and playful wisdom in to the world of storytelling and world at large. As visionary and as animated as the films she makes, it’s with amusement that I interview my partner in crime on the Power of Story.

“Act like I don’t know you,” I tell her as we get comfortable in our swivel chairs. We exchange a couple of awkward jokes before we assume our roles.

“I tell stories with videos and I’m the founder of Project Unsung Heroes, which tells the stories of ordinary people with extraordinary acts of kindness,” she says semi-formally.

Project Unsung Heroes is a community circulated documentary series, which, since its launch, has received love and media attention for its profiling of local heroes, quick assent into viewership and mobilisation of volunteers and good deeds.

When I asked Eileen: Why stories?, she asks if she can go “all spiritual” on me.

I nod in agreement. For us, there is something inherently spiritual about our work as storytellers. It’s like a calling, where we share the story of humanity; all love, all woe, all growth, all social relevance.

“I was a quiet and shy kid and I didn’t know how to express myself. I used music and literature because I couldn’t express in conventional ways. I grew up with arts and paintings and realised all these things were a form of expression and a way to tell a story. It was effective, because sometimes words can’t contain the meaning of what we want to say but by looking at a film, painting or object, we can get across a subconscious message” she reflects.

Despite the philosophical inclination towards storytelling, Eileen insists that stories are just as relevant and practical in the world of business. When I asked her how she is using storytelling in her own business, she looks at me with disbelief. “I bloody film people, man! I document people.”

storytelling singapore


One of the biggest stories Eileen covered with Unsung Heroes was Fion Phua, a woman who knocked on doors to help needy families around Singapore. She trailed her around, asking about her life and how she got into it.

“The thing is, she had newspaper stories about her but everybody came from a certain angle. But I like to tell the real, authentic story of the person. When we put up the video, it went viral and not only did it go viral, it raised over $90,000 for needy families and $10,000 anonymous check. The power of the story is so big you can attract people who are unrelated to take a look and say: hey, there’s something to this.

The biggest mistake people make, she says, is that people think a story is a corporate or publicity video.

“It’s not! A story is a story! Stories tell the true journey of a person; of a client; of a company; of how they got from point A to B and why it’s so important for them to advocate, give a testimony or be on the journey. And from there you draw the right crowd of people who want to be with you on the journey. All through telling a story.”

Every company and every business owner has the ability to tell stories and increase their business and sales revenue just by doing simple storytelling and engaging people. “Even though stories are simple and common in our everyday life, not everyone is doing it or knows how to do it.

Stories, Eileen reiterates, are about becoming personable and evoking new customers and clients to be enrolled into whatever they’re doing. “It’s very easy for me to look at a person or company and look at the angles and the stories the company can tell to connect with people. It’s so excessive, that sometimes I can be talking to a person and I have a whole film about them unfolding in my head. But storytelling doesn’t have to be complicated with documentaries and visuals – it’s just about the content.

In Eileen’s opinion, the difference between being heard and not being heard lies in a good story.

“People running businesses today can be very pragmatic, focused on only sales and marketing targets. But if you put out a good story, people in related or unrelated fields get engaged to it immediately. You get an audience and basic interaction. People start to become familiar with you, hearing about you, and from there you can engage more and more people.”


Eileen creates films and brand videos for businesses with heart – see more of her work and stories over at Project Unsung Heroes.


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