A catch-up session with Director and Cinematographer Kevin William

Tell us more about yourself. What are you doing in life?

I am currently doing my National Service (NS). With regards to my media works, I started filmmaking when I was 16. I did my first short film then. I shot the film using my handphone camera, but it never released on any digital platforms. It was more of an experiment that I did with my friend to explore on the interest I had for filmmaking. However, it was Kannan Vijayakumar’s first short film that ignited the passion in me to do filmmaking as a full time career.

The short film was actually Kannan’s Final Year Project in Polytechnic. I chanced upon the short film and after watching it, I was inspired to be a part of the media industry. To further develop my skills on filmmaking, I studied Digital Audio and Video Production in ITE College West. Afterwards, I took a private diploma in Mass Communication at MDIS. As for my media career, I have worked in Mediacorp as an Assistant Director, Assistant Producer and a Producer in a couple of shows.

Some of my industry experiences would be working as an Assistant Cameraman for the TV series Janani D/O Madhavan, an Assistant Producer for a game show called Tamil Thoothargal and an Assistant Producer and Director (1 episode) for a children series titled Solla Marantha Kathaigal. I’ve also done a few independent works. My first proper short film Yogi was released in Golden Village back in 2014.

Subsequently, I continued doing more short films over the years. My very first feature film, Enthan Uyir Thozhi was only released last year. The film was shown in Rex cinemas and it ran for a good 9-11 days. For a Singapore film it was indeed a positive outcome.

How did the idea of doing Yogi came to you?

It was the year 2013, when I watched a film by Director Bejoy Nambiar titled, David. In that film, there will be two different stories, but both the stories will be linked to one another. Some other films that I really enjoyed and has a similar outline will be Aaytha Ezhuthu and Vaanam. These are the films that inspired me to do Yogi.

I’ve always had the desire to do a short film that has more than one story to it and how the stories are interlinked with one another through a plot twist. It took me about 3 to 4 months to link up the stories in my short film. After going through the first draft, I had to meet up with the production crew and actors to run through the details of the film. The actors of Yogi also gave me their share of opinions to improve on the screenplay.

What are you upcoming projects?

Next year I will be doing a short film. However, it is still too early to reveal much details about the project. As of now, the pre production work and scripting is still going on for my next venture. Apart from that, I am currently working on an Independent Singaporean song. It is by a Singapore based composer named Karthik Jega.

It will be his second single and as part of the project, I will be helming the production side of the Music Video. The song will be releasing in September, so currently I am doing up the post production works of the single. Besides the Music Video, I am also organising the Black and White Singapore Tamil Short Film Festival which will be taking place on 18th August 2018 at The Projector.

What is the initiative behind organising the event?

I didn’t want the premiere of Black and white to be of a standard one. Besides that, I always look upto and support the Indian Arts and talents in Singapore. Therefore, I decided to organise a short film festival to extend my support to the Indian Arts in our country.

How did you finalise on the short films for the event?

The process to finalising the short films took me and my team about 2 weeks. We had 12 different short films and out of them, we had to finalise on a few to be screened during the festival. As much as we wanted to support the Singaporean independent artistes, we also wanted to make sure that the audience feel that the festival was worth the money spent on the tickets.

In order to achieve that, as the organiser, I had to ensure that the short films have a good storyline and all the technical aspects were up to standard. Apart from that, the short films should also have a proper ending with quality work delivered by the actors. I do not want the audience to leave the place saying that the works shown were not up to their expectation or it was money down the drain.

Thus, I sat together with the two other organisers of the film festival to discuss on the selection of films. I had to also take into consideration on the factors that could pull in the crowd. For instance, the short film titled, First Day, First Show was directed by film Director Shankar’s assistant, while Thanmai had popular TV actor Mathi Alagan as the lead. These are some marketing strategies that we had to take note of before selecting the films.

The short film Osmodeus had a more serious and controversial approach as compared to the other short films. What was the reason behind selecting Osmodeus for the short film festival?

I was the only one who strongly recommended on screening Osmodeus during the short film festival. The other 2 organisers rejected the film citing the nudity scenes as a reason. They wanted films that were more suitable for families. Even though family audience are our majority crowd, I wanted to showcase a unique work during the festival.

Films like Osmodeus are very rarely seen in our Singapore culture and Art films are not a very regular genre that filmmakers explore on. Audience should see nudity as an Art rather than an obscene element. If there is an adulterated content placed in a film, it is there for a reason. A filmmaker wouldn’t add in the scene without thinking through it.

Thus, I had to convince my fellow organisers by breaking down the film’s plot and reasoning out on the scenes being part of the film. The entire event has been rated R21. Thus, we have ensured that the audience who comes in for the festival are all adults.

What can the crowd look forward to in the short film festival?

The audience can expect a whole lot of entertainment. Each short film has a different genre and explores on various emotional aspects. At the beginning of the festival, we have a guest dance performance by the dance group, Magic of Faces. Apart from that, there will be a host to keep the event going on as well. Thus, the short film festival has a line up of programmes that will entertain the patrons.

At such a young age, you decided to start your own production company, “Filmoholic Pictures”.  What prompted you to start your own production house instead of working under one?
The main reason was because as a media person, I wanted to learn on certain filmmaking elements through my own projects. There is clearly a difference between learning it on our own and and learning it under someone’s guidance. I have worked with various short film directors as their cameraman and editor. This actually made me realise on how each filmmaker has his own train of thoughts to express the idea on screen.

When I entered Mediacorp and started working for different production houses, I realised more on how each Director thinks and works differently. The knowledge learnt from the experiences gained helped me in my own short films and productions. I am always open to the idea of working with new people.

If I get the opportunity to work under other production houses in Singapore, I’ll be more than happy to do it. At the end of the day, my passion lies in filmmaking. I wouldn’t be choosy about who I want to work with. As long as I get the platform to showcase my talent, I’ll definitely take it up.

You are a versatile film maker who is able to handle multiple roles. (Ex: Director, Cinematographer, Actor, Colourist). How do you do that?

It depends on a project to project basis. Since my interest is in filmmaking, I want to explore on the various roles a filmmaker is capable of doing. I do not want to restrict my talent to only one specific role. When I write a story for a short film, I will have the desire to direct it as well since I’ll have the confidence that I can bring the vision I have on screen.

However, overtime, as I worked on more projects, I realised that having another cameraman on set will be an advantage. The second cameraman can provide his inputs as well which will ultimately increase the value of the project. In all my projects, I wouldn’t be able to helm the roles of a Director, Cinematographer, Actor or Colourist. The weight on my shoulders will definitely be huge.

In my feature film, Enthan Uyir Thozhi, I had an editor on board the project. As for the acting aspect, I am not much of an onscreen person. I wouldn’t take up the role unless I feel that I would be able to do it. In the short film Yogi, I did a guest role. Initially, the role was supposed to be done by another person. However, on the day of filming, the person was not able to turn up. It took me a while to contemplate on whether I should step in to do the guest role. I wanted to make sure that I felt confident of pulling it off well.

One of my friend, Thoufiq Ahamed, directed a short film titled Heartbeat in the year 2015. In the film, I played the role of the lead actor’s friend. Before accepting the role, I asked him on the depth of the character and how important was the role in the film.

When will Black and White be released on digital platforms post the premiere?

I have the plans to release it during Halloween or Deepavali on social media. After the short film festival in Singapore, I’m planning to send Black and White to a few other International film festivals as well. I want the film to get some recognition before I upload it on social media platforms.

What is the synopsis of the short film Black and White?

There is a belief in Christianity that one day, Jesus Christ will come down to Earth to defeat the evil and establish his reign of justice and peace. Many people continue to disrupt the peace in the world thinking that the day will never come. In the short film, one such incident triggers the Angel and Devil to come down to Earth to judge the living in the dead.

We refrained from getting too in depth in the religious aspect as we didn’t want the film to be a controversial one. We implemented some commercial values to it as well. I would say that it is a religious dramatic genre that we have explored on.

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