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A humble breakthrough

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Although shy and soft spoken, this filmmaker is burning with the passion to learn.

Despite having just two years of experience in filmmaking, Ivan Yau has scored himself three nominations in the inaugural National Youth Film Awards (NYFA), which aims to discover and recognise the best of young and emerging talents in the Singapore film industry.

His 12-minute short film, AWOL (The Boy), was nominated for three awards: Best Direction, Best Cinematography and Best Screenplay.

We had a chat with Ivan to find out more about his experience directing the film. In an interview held at *SCAPE, the soft spoken chap told us that he wants to convey a subtle message through his film, which explores the story of Nick, a boy who has gone AWOL (absence without official leave), and the struggles behind his decision.

Ivan, 24, said: "Although the story is about AWOL, there's a bigger message in it, which is not to judge people. Society (tend to) stereotype Nick’s character, so I want to use this opportunity to tell people that we shouldn't judge how people do things based on their past."

 
NICK HIDING FROM THE MILITARY POLICE OUTSIDE HIS HOUSE

Ivan, who is in his second year at the Puttnam School of Film in LASALLE, took a rather interesting route to get to where he is now. The camera shy filmmaker once dreamt of being an actor when he was in primary school, but he gave it up due to stage fright.

He shelved the idea of being an actor and proceeded to study product design in Nanyang Polytechnic. For one of his school projects, he had to watch a movie repeatedly in order to design a feasible product for it.

Interestingly, he started to find filming intriguing, which triggered him to switch courses after polytechnic, opting to go behind the cameras in LASALLE instead.

Although he struggled during his first few months in LASALLE, as opposed to his more experienced coursemates, he managed to pull through by consulting his peers and being more hands-on during filming.


THE YOUNG FILMMAKER IS PUSHING ON WITH PASSION AND INTEREST

When asked how he felt about being recognised for NYFA, Ivan frowned and said: "I'm not really a good talker, and I'm not really confident in myself. (However,) being nominated for this has helped me boost my confidence and it proves that you don't have to be a good talker to make a good film. You just have to use your heart to shoot it."

Even with his recent NYFA nominations, he still remains humble and believes that he still has a lot to learn.

"A director needs to oversee many things, (such as) editing, music, acting. As a director, I still can't reach that stage of overseeing everything (yet). I'm still learning and I'm thankful to my team mates who are there to assist me," said Ivan, while flashing a smile.

After completing his studies, Ivan aims to set up his own company with his friend, a fellow director, and hopes to start off with shooting a couple of television commercials.

IVAN (BOTTOM LEFT) WITH SOME FEATURED NOMINEES FROM THE INAUGURAL NYFA.
PHOTO CREDIT: SCAPE.SG

One advice that Ivan has for youths who aspire to venture into the filming scene is to get more exposure.

He said: "Don't stay at home. Go out and experience life. Go drinking, clubbing and explore because if you want to shoot a scene and you don't have the experience, you can't shoot it. Your experiences will inspire you in different ways."

The NYFA awards ceremony will be held on Aug 2. Head here for more information.