What does it take to produce a Hollywood film? Or better yet, what does it take to produce a Hollywood film that has since grossed over $50 million since its opening day? Film, Sound & Video (FSV) alumna (Class of 2008) Janice Chua spills the beans on how she was chosen for the role of Associate Producer for Crazy Rich Asians.
Although we’ve always heard of people who knew just what they wanted to do since they were young, this wasn’t the case for Janice. In a campus talk last month, the Hollywood producer said she’d never thought about producing during her FSV years. Instead, she focused on her passion, video editing.
After graduating, Janice worked in a post-production company as an editor. Who’d have thought her interest in producing would arise from there? In a career change, she went into the Chinese market, liaising film sales between Beijing and USA. With her background in editing, Janice was a familiar face with both film editors and directors. “I’d hang out with the editor and suggest cuts, then I would watch the new cuts and take notes with the director,” she said.
When she first entered Hollywood, Janice’s identity as a Singaporean-Chinese was a double-edged sword in a largely male-dominated, Western culture. While her work experience and effective bilingualism worked in her favour, she had to deal with established industry partners who didn’t take a young Asian woman seriously. Her big break came when she joined Ivanhoe Pictures, the company that would end up producing Crazy Rich Asians (CRA).
Working on the set of CRA was a new lesson of putting passion into work. Janice experienced and acknowledged the “amazing attention to detail” by Hollywood professionals. “Buying food became a pressure!” she said, remembering the mutton soup, satay, and sambal stingray amongst countless other local dishes she had to buy.
“Jon gave me a huge bunch of money to buy food and said, “Janice, the crew needs to fall in love with the food; otherwise, they can’t shoot it well.” It’s easy to execute the instructions of the director, but here they were talking about excellence. There was a level of professionalism that I’ve never encountered.”
After a whirlwind rollercoaster of ups and downs, from polytechnic to university, from Singapore to China and from China to Hollywood, Janice remains nostalgic about her early days. CRA was a personal moment to her because it was a chance to work with her old course mates and NP friends; they became her community. “As you progress into your professional life, so will your peers - they can improve your work in collaboration one day, so keep in contact with them,” she advised.
Faces in FilmBoo Jun Feng and Anthony Chen, alumni of FSV (Class of 2003 and 2004 respectively), are both recognised for their films and contributions towards the local film scene.
Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Film, Young Artist Award, the list of achievements goes on and on for film-maker Boo Junfeng. His newest project and first fully Mandarin-language film, Dominion, is one of the three Singaporean films shortlisted for the 2018 Golden Horse Film Project Promotion (FPP), which is the biggest cash prize within Asia for film production.
Anthony’s 2013 family-centred film, Ilo Ilo, was also a past FFP project, and it later won the prestigious Golden Camera Award at the Cannes Film Festival, four Golden Horse Awards, and over 40 other awards.
Photo: Yew Jiayun