LUNCHBOX 1 - Han Yew Kwang

This lovely piece of photoart is created by Li, one of our bloggers.
LUNCHBOX is the beginning of a long journey to know our local filmmakers like people and not just filmmakers. I believe, and I did hear it from somewhere else too, that before making films, we, as filmmakers, must also live life. So SINdie wants to get into bed with them, know when they had their first kiss or maybe even what their parents think.
Cross-dressing started at an early age for Yew Kwang
Monday 29 June
7.30 pm
Elfe, Li and I were sitting in Dome CafĂ© wondering the Mac could record sound, if our ‘Lunchbox’ could be more presentable, if we would be chased out for taking photos with Li’s big camera.
Then he walks in the preppy looking ‘ter-qua’ red (liver red) vest making me wonder if he thinks this is a formal interview. Here he comes….

Who inspires you in your life?
My father is the first one by bringing me to watch movies. Cos he has his own intention by bringing me to the cinema. I’m the quiet type. I would definitely not make noise, won't make it difficult for him and he does not need to bring me elsewhere, where he needs to spend a lot of time. Cinema is the best as he needs to rest. The best activity to kill time is this manner. From there on, I became interested in watching movies. Along the way, people gave me advice, people who inspires me.

What inspires you to be a film maker?
Middle of 1998, where I am trying to make a decision on whether to continue as a writer or to take up a film course and try other things. So after watching this movie, then I took up the course with Ngee Ann and Kelvin Tong inspires me quite a lot. It’s like someone who I look up to, not only because he is creative. He is also able to take care of the business side of things, which I am really bad at. Whenever I see him talk to producers, I am quite impressed.
Another person is Mr. Man Shu Sum. He used to be the director of MDA and he was head of channel U. Formerly. He keeps tekan me, keep asking me to redo, redo, but he has his own stand. He always asks me to redo something one, but he will put it nicely. End of the day, he will say “do you know why I am asking you to redo? Because I know you can do it". His very smart, whenever he says me, he forces me to improve things and his very funny. When he gives me a lot of opportunities. One thing good about Mr. Man is that, he will give chances to new comers, but you will really have to work very hard. (So he so called trained you a lot la) but now I think of it, it’s like army la, when you are going through it, its shit ah. But when you are out of it, you think back, of course you won't want to go through it again ah.

How old are you?
I’m 34

What’s the funniest rumor/remark about you?
When I was in Primary Six when we were about to leave after PSLE, a friend of mine wrote something on a piece of paper of a clown/joker that says Class Clown. But I don’t find myself funny at that time. I seldom talk.
Do you think you’re a funny person because your films are funny?
Maybe at times not 24/7. I take a longer time to open up to new people. Only those who are close to me knows the real me. Otherwise, I’m just like that.

What is the one other thing you must do during your rest time besides filming?
I will not think of work when I watch 2 kinds of programmers. Even though I watch dramas I do think of work. But when I watch Taiwanese/Hong Kong/Japanese variety shows I don’t think of work. The other one would be soccer. I’m a soccer fan. I love watching soccer matches.

Would you ever do a film about soccer?
Unless I can find something interesting/different.

Now you’re a film-maker, is there anything else in your mind that you want to complete?
I hope when I’m old I can actually be an author. Write a book somewhere in an isolated place and have someone send food over. I’ll still go out like Parkway Parade, meet up with friends.
What kind of books?
Probably about myself through things like I’m interested in like jogging/soccer. I don’t know if there’s such a book. Will write it in Chinese. I’m more comfortable in Chinese. I enjoy writing ever since primary school especially composition.
Elfe, posing difficult questions while Jeremy is looking difficult
What is your greatest fear in life?
Actually on and off I do have this fear of my parents falling sick. I’m just afraid I’m unable to take care of them
My dad is 67 and my mom is 59. That’s my only worry.
I’m also worried that I might run out of ideas of what to write/shoot.
Confronting fears takes time
Does that happen to you sometimes?
Right now not really because I work for the TV industry and we’re force to come up with an idea even though it is crap. It’s better to type the first draft
Tea leaves and memories...
What were the best childhood memories and which memory is a product of who you are now?
When I was a kid, I wasn’t 100% introvert though I kept to myself a lot. I had only one close friend who was my neighbor and we were of the same age. My dad would bring me along to watch movies at Shaw Brothers and because of those movies I wanted to be an actor. I didn’t know there was such a thing as a director. For me it was all about actors. I was really inspired to be an actor. There were some memorable moments that I would love to shoot on film.
One of the scene which I would love to shoot – sometimes our parents didn’t allow us to leave the house to play so my neighbor and I would communicate through the rubbish chute. We could stuck our heads in and talk to each other. My neighbor moved to a new neighborhood and we lost contact. Only in 2005 we got in contact again.
We were staying at Marine Parade, three room flat. It was quite spacious. When I was in primary five, my neighbor moved and I was forced to make new friends/talk to people when I was in primary six. My neighbor was called Boy Boy and he called me Kong Kong. When Boy Boy left am force to make new friends. That’s when I made a new group of friends who started this act in school where we volunteered to perform on stage for Teacher’s Day/Children’s Day. We had the same interest to perform. Whenever we meet up for gatherings we always mention about it – it’s called ji Kong. We would love to do that play again if we can now – something about the old, modern/current and future ji Kong coming together and creating mishaps. That’s when I became more outgoing. Q: What is the darkest moment in your life?
I remember there were a lot of missing children here and there. But the most famous one was, the brothers. That time there were many cases. There was once where, I was actually. I went to the market with my parents, but I actually decided to go alone, then that was when I met this, Indian lady. If I could film this scene, it is also good la. This Indian lady at the void deck, then there are a lot of empty glasses lying around, not sure whether she was drinking, and she as holding on to one, and she was asking me to come over and I just walked past her. And I just act blur. And I just said, oh the time now is what, nine plus. And she said, why don't you come over? Then I did something. I, actually my parents are not near, but I just pretend, they were nearby, looking somewhere, then she ask me, oh your parents in there ah? Okay never mind. So I am not sure if I go over what would happen ah. Maybe she just wants me to sit, I don't know. Or she just wants to talk to me cause she is lonely and.
Would you starve for the sake of art?
Starve ah? I don't think so leh. Starve as in not really starve la, because I have some family expenses to contribute. If only I out of debt ah. If there is something that I am pursing which is quite, then it’s okay. Save at cheaper food or wear.

Do you have any side kick or buddies to help you? I have a long term producer, (Chee Nien) that’s the good thing about going to film school. You get to know friends that are like minded friends, where probably where you would end up working with them closely. Chee Nien is one of them ah. He made quite a bit of sacrifice overall. Cause he is the director also. When we graduated, I actually need a producer for one project, so I got him in. and its like, since when have you been doing the producer role? We have been working since Ngee Ann days. But its quite fun. During poly days, he was my actor, I have done a couple of short films with him and he had to do a lot of sacrifices one. Shave his head in front of the camera, then, I hope he will stay ah.

What has been the most memorable thing that happened since you started filmmaking?
There are moments here and there la but I have to say there is one interesting moment; it was when we were filming The Call Home. There was one scene, whereby the lead actor, Karsi, where there is a scene where he has to walk into the crowd of foreign workers and they are watching a big screen cinema in little India. So I remember it was like, we were saying how to shoot this scene, they will definitely turn around and look at the camera, and we were like going out of 'cans already' , and we went as early as five o'clock to set up, so as to wait for the right moment. Just to hope that we can have this one pic where nobody will look back and look at the camera and we only have one take, because, that one take was almost perfect.

We set up everything, and when it was time to shot right, we just rolled it, Karsi actually walks into the crowd, and I don't know why, at that moment, the film that they are watching is very important, none of them turn back to look at the camera. They were suppose to because there were lights everywhere, cameras, and the cameras were very big, and, those behind us were watching us, those in front were watching the movies. They are engage in the movie and when Karsi walks in, some turn around to look at him. Subsequently when we say cut, it rains heavily. We thought this kind of moment, only happen in movies, but it happened in real life, so we quickly pack up, we were soaked but we were really happy. Everything was so right, and then we walked out in the rain, things like that, but we have to protect the camera first la.
'My fingers can do plenty of things.'

So we will always remember that. It’s like only when you are in this business that you will have moments like that la. But, it’s like moments when we die, we will remember. That is the most worrying scene, we can't screw up. We actually thought of dropping that scene if we actually can't get it right la. When we were in little India, we were quite naive, trying to shot him walking on the streets, they (foreign workers) will actually stare straight into the camera and one big gang of them, they will look directly. So we don't know how to handle that scene. So we actually ask the Indian friends to come on set to tell them to not look at the camera. We really get them organized. So ask them to actually help us instead. Like action, we will ask A group to walk and don't look at the camera, and when you are done, the IC at the other side will ask them to walk back. But they will still look into the camera. Where when they walk here ah, they won't wait for the IC, they will just walk and turn and it is captured into the shot. So after the first day, the crowd scene was not going to work. So somebody tried to walk on the rooftop of the building. The owners allowed us, quite friendly. Even then we do it quite quietly, if not they will yaw....

So is there a possibility of you doing something controversial movie, what would it be?
It’s not for me. Its not that I am trying to avoid, but when I think of stories, there are a bit kooky but it would not be a political or sex show. I did not try to avoid. Maybe I am just not into it. I did one, but not that controversial. But one of the most sexual films, to date, where Chee Nien is the actor, my producer, that was in school, where we were allowed to experiment.

So we were experimenting, we had a story, where we had a scene involve in the mannequin, when we were in Ngee Ann. so Chee Nien has a thing for the mannequin. So he brought it home, he has to shave his head, and drill a hole in the mannequin. So it has a vagina, so he can stick his hair into the pubic areas, not very disturbing, but it was quite funny. It was my idea, just wanted to make something really funny, something cheap and it happened to have this mannequin in Ngee Ann and quite good looking. One of the chio bu among the mannequin end of the day he destroyed the mannequin, he was a crazy guy la.
Han Yew Kwang Essential Facts
Jim Carrey has a obsession with the number 23 in the movie, what’s yours?
Probably bra. I always think bra is a very good tool for story telling. My characters are weird but not in a weirdo way. funny wear. I thought of. Bra is something that you want to, for ladies, close to them, and yet it can be something that can be removed. Can, where this girl/ guy whose close to the girl. The best thing that you can have is a bra. Because I look back at... a dress or a necklace or a spec or bracelet. But nothing special. But when the idea of the bra came out, the entire scene came out. It was auto pilot. So it was a wonderful tool. We will shoot something in September.

Yew Kwang holding up Li's masterpiece for the farewell shot!

Check out these Han Yew Kwang films!

18 Grams of Love

Unarmed Combat

The Call Home

Singapore's Funniest Home Video (not sure where to get!)

Incidentally, there is a feature on him on Life in Straits Times as he has just received the NAC Young Artists Award together with fellow filmmakers Boo Junfeng, Anthony Chen and Ho Tzu Nyen.

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