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Friday, March 07, 2014

Turning 30

So, I turned 30 yesterday. A while ago, I looked at it with slight trepidation, I don't think I was prepared to say goodbye to my twenties just like that.

After all, the past decade had been unbelievable.

Was it already ten years ago that I first went to Perth?

That was 2004.

That was also the year when I discovered that it was highly possible for me to chase after my lifelong dream of filmmaking.

All my years in secondary school taught me that I was surrounded by cynical people, that I had been growing up in an environment where conformity is celebrated, where arts and culture are often overlooked. Supportive friends were cautiously optimistic about my chances of becoming a filmmaker, but most of the time I was described as an impractical "dreamer" (not a compliment!)

So I went to Perth, got myself my very first camcorder, taught myself how to edit and was making video diaries in Perth (and Malaysia) or... er, experimental videos.

(The fact these happened ten years ago blew my mind. Sure, it felt like an eternity ago, yet when you associate something with numbers, the feeling is reinforced, or perhaps, magnified.)

Since then, I have been very blessed to be able to make films and meet many people who share the same passion. I also managed to fly to more places than I could ever imagine in my dreams (Chile? Estonia? Wow)

The move to Tokyo in 2008 was beautiful because I was allowed to do even more to serve cinema. The opportunity to be able to make Japanese films, the very same Japanese films I grew up watching, the opportunity to work with people that I knew about since my childhood, everything was a blur, but I loved every single second of it. KINGYO was my very first Japanese-language short film. The invitation to Venice Film Festival in 2009 remain surreal to me until today. Did it really happen?

Before I could even recover from it, a film I co-wrote and produced ended up in Cannes.

After that, it's been one surprise after another.

I sure didn't expect to get a PHD out of all these last year!

Better to stop before this post becomes too self-congratulatory.

The whole point was to look at the past decade that I can refer to in the future as my "twenties", just so I can remember the journey that I've taken.

And also to prepare myself for the decade to come.

Aside from that, I have spent years developing a feature-length film project. Because, naturally, that's what I've always wanted to go for. It took me much longer than expected, and perhaps, the wait was worth it. The more I had to wait, the more desperate I became, yet at the same time, the more I got to work on other projects, sharpen my craft, meet more people, know more about myself, understand more about the world.

Isn't that how things work? Connecting the dots, right?

So I ended up finishing the shoot of my debut feature RIVER OF EXPLODING DURIANS in March 1, just a few days before I turn 30.

Right now, I'm just editing.

There's no birthday presents, the birthday present given to me is this belief that I have made a film that I wanted to make, in spite of all the obstacles that I faced. I was surrounded by good people.

And so, the 30-year-old me looked at a photo of the 3-year-old me. The difference is non-existent.