It's interesting that we are meeting here in Tokyo! How long are you staying here for?
I'm only here until end of October. I've been here since the start of August. My partner works here - He's Singaporean - so I come and visit as much as I can, but I don't live here because my work is mostly in Singapore. Commercial work is my bread and butter, so I won't be able to make a living here.
You don't seem to talk about your commercial work much.
I don't usually post about them [on social media] but sometimes, because the kind of commercials that I do tend to be more narrative driven, the clients like to identify the director, so that's when I am identified. But most of the time I'd rather be anonymous, because it's not technically my work. I'm just commissioned to do it.
I still see myself first and foremost as a filmmaker. If I want to be known for anything, it would be for my own films and not for what I'm commissioned to make.
But do you enjoy doing commercial work?
Yes, I think they allow me to try different things. They tend to be stories or messages that I wouldn't usually explore myself. And sometimes stylistically they also allow me to try something more conventional. It also always helps if the ad agencies have come to me because they appreciate my work, so then there is some amount of mutual aspect.
So let's talk about Tokyo, since we are here. What do you enjoy about living here?
I can't say I'm living here - I think I'm just a long-term visitor, but I like that the weather changes and shifts. It makes the year feel a little shorter, and it's more comfortable, but of course it's been a very long summer, and only now is it starting to be a little cooler. I'm going back to Singapore soon, but I'll be here again in December.
That's nice. What's life like here?
Usually what I do here is, I come here and I do my writing. So what I like about being here, apart from the typical stuff that most people like about Japan, is that when I'm here I disconnect from Singapore and all the distractions there - people calling me out, people giving me things to do.
Are you bad at saying no?
Yes, quite! So when I'm away I can concentrate on work, on writing my own films. Sometimes when I get jobs, I can also work from here. In fact, for one TVC that I did in May, most of it was done via video-conference and I only went back for pre-production and the shoot. So it works quite well for me. I also need to be in Singapore for post-production, for editing, but towards the tail-end I don't need to be there.