Taking creative control
SINGAPORE — Jason Chan and Christian Lee are the perfect example of “if you don’t like the way things are, go and do something about it”.
The two directors, who both have a background in acting, moved to Singapore from the United States (Lee) and Australia (Chan) and run the production company BananaMana Films. But instead of waiting around for that chimerical perfect script, the two actors wrote, directed, produced, edited and starred in their own Toggle-commissioned Web series, What Do Men Want, about two struggling actors who also struggle to get their lives and loves on track. It went on to win the Outstanding Directing In A Drama Series award at the Los Angeles Web Series Festival 2014.
“We’ve always wanted to do this Web-based series about two struggling actors — something that we know about — and the antics that happen with following basically your heart over your head,” said Lee, 47, whose television credits also include roles in the Channel 5 series Phua Chu Kang Pte Ltd and Achar, as well as US telemovies such as Marco Polo.
“We were actors for 10 or 12 years and, as a certain breed of actor, we always felt dissatisfied because we went, ‘It’s not really my story. It’s someone else’s script and someone else’s vision and they’re telling me where to stand and where to talk. I want to tell my story’,” added Chan, 42, whom you might recognise as the Green Ranger in Power Rangers Ninja Storm.
MY STORY, ON MY TERMS
Being in charge of the entire creative process means having ultimate control, which is a “beautiful thing”, said Chan. “A lot of the time, in Singapore, you work on set and then you leave, and then the post-production is taken care of in a different way,” he said, adding that as a director, he could “actually follow a vision all the way through”.
That also means a lot more work, much of which is nitty-gritty stuff, such as the sound (“Are you going to have that dog bark or take it away?”) and the music for the show, which was written by Chan.
“But there’s nothing more fulfilling,” said Lee, who pointed out that Web and online technology have made starting your own project easier than ever.