March 2006 The Art of Kan Lume - Trailblazing
there had ever been anyone who said the
film industry in Singapore will fizzle,
they should eat their words now. Signs are
pointing to a local movie boom in the next
few years. Four Singapore films will be
screened at the upcoming 19th Singapore
International Film Festival (SIFF), one
of which will be "The
Art of Flirting".
caught up with the director Kan Lume, over
drinks on the night of 30th March 2006,
as he shared with us valuable insights into
his works, his vision about the local industry,
and what he hopes to help create and nurture
in time to come. Like his film, the following
will be presented in four chapters.
Chapter 1: The Present
been selected to present The Art of Flirting
at the Jeonju International Film Festival
alongside luminary, Eric Khoo, Kan is busy
preparing publicity materials like posters
and stills. Going without an outfit or a
personal assistant, he has to do things
the DIY way.
selected to compete in Jeonju has been an
encouragement to Kan as The Art of Flirting
is competing in a group of twelve films
from around the world, which have been selected
from a list of a hundred.
is also concurrently working on two film
projects. The first is a commercial action
film with a S$1.2 million budget, based
upon a script which he has worked on for
about three years. Most action scripts are
short as they deal more with fight choreography,
stunts and pyrotechnics, and he has submitted
2 scripts to his producer and are now looking
other is a lower budgeted (S$30K) independent
film, made with the European festivals in
mind. The subject matter deals with the
exploration of human sexuality and chances
are that it might be banned in Singapore.
While not intended for the purpose of sensationalism,
Kan felt that the European market might
be more ready for it, and that they are
hungry for material from South East Asia.
2: The Past
Kan left his job as a manager
in a training company three years ago, to
pursue filmmaking. With a year of film school
experience under his belt, he felt he had
to explore the practicality of filmmaking
here full-time on only two conditions -
that he must get to tell his own stories,
and to do it his way.
In the first year, he had
made about ten video shorts using family
member as casts. He also participated in
the very first Fly By Night Video Challenge,
hoping to take it as a sign that filmmaking
was his calling, should he win that is.
While he failed to do so, Fate refused to
deter him. A producer, who was present that
night, contacted Kan, having been impressed
with his work. Kan was offered to make a
short film set in an optical and a S$15K
budget to go with it.
Clearly inspired, Kan made
more short films in his second year as a
full-time director, this time casting friends
in roles. Garnering various awards for his
short films at local festivals, Kan made
the natural transition to embark on making
his first feature film, The Art of Flirting,
by the third quarter of 2005, he was shocked
to have The Art of Flirting take top honours
at the 10th Malaysian Video Awards for Best
ASEAN Feature Film, beating "Gol and
Gincu.” Previous winners included
Yasmin Ahmad’s first two feature films,
Rabun and Sepet respectively.
Chapter 3: The Wave, the Industry and The
Art of Flirting
Lume also shared with us his interesting
insight pertaining to the wave of the world's
attention to Cinema around the world. Following
ten year cycles, regions around the world
take turns to experience the "wave",
an invisible push as the world's cinema
finds favour in a new region at each cycle.
the sixties, the French new wave swept the
world. Critics started making their own
films, which were considered to be revolutionary
at that time. In the seventies, we had the
Scandinavian and American wave, where we
saw the passing of the old and the coming
of new filmmakers like Spielberg, Scorsese
and the likes, emerging with new inspiration
and newer ways of doing things. In the eighties,
Hong Kong cinema experienced an explosion
of films, and the wave moved northwards
towards South Korea in the mid nineties
explaining the influx of the kimchi fever
which is still going strong today.
predicts the possibility of the next wave
to come from China, India or South East
Asia, with the inclusion of Singapore. In
his opinion though, he felt that China might
probably not be ready yet, unless it has
successfully tackled its piracy issue. With
the case of India, its top directors are
constantly being wooed by Hollywood. South
East Asia, in particular Singapore, would
be most feasible as both are ready and poised
for the wave.
into the local scene, we will witness developments
in areas like animation boosted by the recent
opening of a local LucasFilm animation office
by George Lucas, the man synonymous with
Star Wars. There are encouraging signs from
the aspect of the digital revolution with
more filmmakers braving themselves to go
that the shifting of the wave is not a guarantee
of success, Kan believes that it provides
an invisible and extra push which we should
ready ourselves for.
in 2005/6 there have been an unprecedented
number of films being in production, like
Smell of Rain and Cages. Having both the
machinery and infrastructure in place, Kan
believes we are in for a very exciting time.
What is left is for the push to develop
a critical mass of local films. Having made
The Art of Flirting on its budget of S$300,
Kan hopes it serves as an encouraging sign
to budding filmmakers and those thinking
about making films, to just do it, and not
wait for grants to develop their ideas.
of the S$300 budget? No surprise there.
Kan explained the break down as follow -
S$250 was used to hire a professional sound
person and the remaining S$50 for film stock.
Other fees were waived, and the cast did
it for free because they were passionate
about the movie. Not so difficult afterall
Chapter 4: The Vision of the Future
Lume clearly subscribes to the spirit of
generosity, and explained to us his long
term intentions of
a) Helping to create an industry, in particular,
starting with the creation of a platform
for actors and performers.
b) Creating celebrity culture.
explained that a buzzing local film industry
can help in spinning off or injecting vibrancy
into sub-industries like the magazine and
tourism industry, and the creation of agents,
personal assistants and a spectrum of film-production
believes that all types of movies should
exist in the local industry, be they from
genres like Horror, or "B-graders",
whether or not the movie was made to preach
an underlying message or done just for fun,
they are all required to create that buzz
and the importance of building critical
mass for an industry to thrive upon.
Art of Flirting is Kan Lume's showcase of
what can be done, if he is given a bigger
budget. He is attempting to make his own
American Graffiti, and has shared with us
his long term plans. In ten years, he wishes
to have a film featured in Cannes or any
other major European film festival, and
in twenty years time, to be able to be in
a position to affect film funding in Singapore.
wishes Kan Lume every success in his dreams
and aspirations! Cheers to more movies to
come from this trailblazing local director!
Feature: The Making of The Art of Flirting
Promise" was the 23 minute version
of the feature length, The Art of Flirting.
What prompted the making of the feature
were the reactions and the questions posed
from the audience (which Kan Lume didn't
have answers for) when "I Promise"
was screened at last year's 5th Asian Film
Symposium held at the Substation. The reactions
from the ladies were fiery, while the guys
felt maligned. The Art of Flirting was also
made in response to sweeping statements
that "Singapore had no stories to tell".
Kan wanted to demonstrate that big operas
can also happen in small spaces, and you
do not necessarily need a big stage for
chemistry between the leads, WKRZ radio
jockey Marilyn Lee and Leonard Yeo was obviously
brilliant, and we learnt from Kan that he
had not auditioned them. He had met Marilyn
through a mutual friend, and had in mind
for her to be in a different film. However,
having listened to her talk about her personal
life, he decided to cast her for the Art
of Flirting project. He wrote the part for
Leonard because he thought that their personalities
would match, and from the end product on
screen, you can say Kan was spot on.
the knack of observing the intangible and
capturing it on celluloid, Kan likened his
role in the project as a facilitator, and
disclosed that some coincidences in the
film were engineered without revealing them
to the cast, in order to get their genuine
reactions. An example would be the introduction
of an old couple to a scene in which the
characters were talking about elderly love.
Kan had a skeletal script with key points
that the cast should hit and touch upon,
thus giving them free reign in talking and
leading into the required topics like the
five languages of love, kids, etc, resulting
in the dialogues having a very natural feel
practicality reasons while on location,
rehearsals were always being done before
the shot was taken, although he revealed
that sometimes he rolled the camera when
he told the cast that it was not rolling,
and vice versa.
are some trivia tidbits - Kan allowed Leonard
to slur a bit as the movie progressed, as
in the beginning, audiences are introduced
to Leo and he had spoken in good accented
English as he was out to impress Marilyn.
The film was shot in sequence, though Marilyn
did not know how the ending would turn out
Easter Eggs: Budget Filmmaking Tips
Some tips on how to make films on a budget,
as shared by Kan Lume
Script - ensure the script does not require
actors to inhibit. Wrap stories around actors
in a collaborative manner. Some things are
born out of necessity or desperation - find
new ways out of limitations.
Find persons natural in front of camera
and tell their story. Kan spent a lot of
time with Marilyn and Leonard, and is able
to hit emotional resonance with both.
Let the film evolve, otherwise you'll sap
the life out of it. Film captures the spirit
of the process well, so it will show.
here for our review of “The Art of
by Stefan Shih and Mohamad Shaifulbahri
| Layout: Linus Tee