Local filmmaker Boo Junfeng has a rather prolific record.
Since 2004, the 26-year-old has made seven shorts – three in 2008 alone – and two features, including his first solo feature Sandcastle, currently in cinemas.
It’s not just quantity. Several of his past shorts have been recognised with awards at the Singapore International Film Festival.
Meanwhile, his 2008 short Tanjong Rhu played at the Berlin Film Festival, while Sandcastle was among the International Critic’s Week selection at the Cannes Film Festival.
Having achieved one of the goals he set out with at the start of his career – to make his first feature before the age of 30 – Boo tells inSing.com about being an up-and-coming director, rubbing shoulders with illustrious cinematic figures, and his preference for making dramatic Singapore films.
You’ve achieved one of your first goals, to make a feature before age 30. How do you account for your success so far?
When I first wanted to make movies, I wanted to find a discerning audience, not necessarily to get critical acclaim or for (financial) returns. I’ve just been very lucky lah. When I reflect on the last couple of years, a lot of things have just fallen into place for me.
People talk about ‘talent’ a lot. For me, maybe it’s just a sensibility that I have. My films reflect how I feel about certain things, in a natural way, and that’s how I tell the stories.
Being able to travel the world to film festivals and events and rub shoulders with famous people – is that a perk of the job that you enjoy?
It’s more the cultural-exchange element that comes into it. I’m telling Singapore stories as authentic as I can. It means a lot to me to be able to move others, with these stories, and present something that resonates with the audience abroad.
Getting to meet famous people is part of the job lah. I’ve had the chance to meet people like Tom Cruise and Gael Garcia Bernal. It’s quite surreal, but it’s not a priority.
You tend to make dramatic films based in a Singapore context. Would you ever branch out?
Maybe it’s just how I relate to the world, but I don’t think I will make anything other than dramas. I guess I would only direct comedy, for instance, if it comes within the context of a drama. Only human drama comes naturally to me as a filmmaker.
Do you still get nervous presenting your works? Was the Sandcastle premiere nerve-wrecking?
Yes, for Sandcastle, I think I screwed up my speech. I was really nervous. I felt like I was standing in front of a 600-strong ‘firing squad’ of friends, family and industry partners – everyone who’s been supportive of me and related to what I’ve done was there.
Do people tend to get your name wrong, and have you ever been mistaken as a relative of fellow director Boris Boo (Phua Chu Kang The Movie)?
Sometimes people think I misspell my own surname, and they like to change it, for instance, to Boon or something.
I don’t know him (Boris) personally, even though we’ve met, but maybe we are related somehow; I think there aren’t many Boo families in Singapore!