Loo (left) and Yang (right) at one of their exhibitions held at the National Library this year. “FOUR FACES” is a community arts project on the cyclical phases of life. PHOTO: JUSTIN KOR
In 2007, Jean Loo spent several weeks travelling through Southeast Asia researching the impacts of rapid modernisation on children living in developing countries. The outcome of her findings resulted not only in an illustrated book for her Final Year Project, but it also gave a hint to her future.
It was during her stay in countries like Myanmar and Laos that Loo decided she wanted a purposeful career that would allow her to change the world.
“The experience with my FYP opened up the potential of what social documentaries, photography and journalism could do to effect change,” says Loo.
Back in Singapore, she dug deeper and realised that many organisations lacked experience in spreading social messages. Inspired to fill that gap in the market, she set up content creation studio Logue — an abbreviation of “social dialogue” — in 2008 to help enterprises develop meaningful media content that leveraged on storytelling. Over the years, Logue has taken on a wide range of creative projects, including documentaries, photos and articles.
Today, Logue counts the Lien Foundation and the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth as its regular partners. Companies like Sembcorp, HSBC Bank Singapore and HPL Hotels & Resorts have also turned to Logue for documentary-style corporate videos. Logue has even caught the attention of global design company Ideo. Loo produces short form documentary-style stories for Ideo based on its design research.
Getting to the heart of storytelling is what Loo does best. “It is about taking things out into an arty and creative realm,” says Loo, who worked briefly at Bloomberg and The Straits Times after graduation. “We try not to align ourselves to any single form of media, but rather see what form of media is most suited to each project.”
At Logue, Loo works with her business partner Huiwen Yang (CS’07), who joined the company in 2012. Yang is the creative strategist and writing lead at Logue. The duo work with a collective of independent designers, writers and photographers.
Success didn’t come easy. For Loo, her initial years at Logue were spent “learning how to walk all over again.”
“It was not merely about creating content,” she shares, adding that “it was difficult to figure out how to sustain your passion and yet support yourself financially at the same time.”
While social advocacy projects are her passion, she found herself occasionally taking on wedding photography jobs and writing advertising jingles to keep Logue going.
She also had to cope with being a one-man team at the start. “You have to be extremely realistic about pursuing passion and dreams and see that the road ahead is not easy,” says Loo.
Loo got her big break in 2010, when Lien Foundation engaged Logue to produce a social documentary on children who grew up without toilets. The “Children of Mekong” project took her to various regions in Asia, from floating river communities in Cambodia to mountain villages in China.
While her passion is still deeply rooted in social advocacy, Loo admits that these projects can get mentally exhausting as “it is impossible to be impartial about it.”
For instance, filming “After Cicely,” a documentary named after Cicely Saunders — one of the first advocates of palliative care — was an emotionally draining experience for Loo.
The documentary, commissioned by the Lien Foundation, was shot in five different countries, and describes modern hospice and palliative care through the eyes of five women. Loo and her team were required to document the process of dying, shuffling in and out of hospices every day while watching the various people they filmed pass on.
VIDEO COURTESY OF LOGUE/VIMEO
Travelling is Loo’s way of renewing her ideas and seeking fresh perspectives. She has traversed the globe, going to countries like Iceland, where she shadowed scientists who were studying glaciers, and Tanzania, where she wrote on its safari experience and Maasai culture.
“Each time you go away, you come back with a fresh pair of eyes,” she says.
Despite Logue’s success, Loo keeps her feet firmly on the ground by regularly meeting like-minded people in the social advocacy circle.
“You realise that you are not the only one helping a social cause. A lot of people are doing the same thing and working harder than you. So just keep working,” she says.
Loo might have encountered countless of hurdles when she first started Logue, but she still keeps the unwavering enthusiasm that has propelled her company forward since its early days. “Every day, I always get up excitedly to look for someone to work with.”