Meeting Kelvin Tong

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Meeting Kelvin in person has erased all of preconceptions of this talented local director. There were several questions that came to mind before that. Would he be aloof? Can he even speak Mandarin? I was pleasantly surprised.

I have been quite a fan of Kelvin, ever since Channel U’s The Frontline. He somehow managed to make television and a cheesy script look really good. It also reminded me that I rated The Maid 4 stars, which truly sent shivers down my spine.

He was jovial, sincere, very grounded, and could speak really good Mandarin. We discussed about films and the local film industry. At times, I was a mix between film critic and an excited fan who had watched his films since university days.

My first question, “Why Men In White?” He said that he just wanted to do something different, something illogical. People would expect him to do another horror, but he just wanted a project in between to keep his mind of. That he strike me as somebody true to his feelings, without much consideration of the reviewers or the box office. People who have watched his Love Story would also understand.

Again, he cast a group of first-time movie actors for a feature. It was a risky move, but his willingness to give young talents a window of opportunity was admirable.

When I expressed my worry when he is going for the 'social-commentary comedies' genre, something synonymous with Jack Neo's works. He said “Jack is Jack. I am I.” Indeed, he is someone who does not allow himself to be pigeon holed, and just to try out new things.

He does still look aloof when he doesn't smile. But behind that, I could see this 'boy' in him, true to his passion, with an element of 'fun'. This meeting allowed me to see him and his works in a different light.

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