Even before graduating, Kannan, who runs his own production house, has already produced award-winning short films and organised two film festivals. PHOTO: ATIKAH HASIMEN
As a teenager, Kannan Vijayakumar already knew what it took to be in the spotlight.
After all, his pre-university experience included a stint as a production assistant – more precisely, a gaffer who operates the lights. That meant that he learnt how to cast the best lighting on actors, a lesson that has become useful in his film career.
Last month, the third-year student’s latest short film, “Jeevi,” premiered at the 2nd THIRAI, Singapore Tamil Short Film Festival. The day-long event held at The Projector was organised by Anchor Point Pictures, a production company started by him and his friends in 2013.
The 48-minute mini feature that he wrote and directed follows the story of three friends as they “uncover a mystery that changes their lives.” The movie was filmed and produced during his second year at the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information.
“The most difficult part of filmmaking is to come up with something different,” he said. “I like that challenge. If people had no expectations, my journey would be stagnant.”
For its second run of the Singapore Tamil Short Film Festival last month, APP opened the festival to international filmmakers, a move that garnered overwhelming response, with close to 100 submissions.
“Jeevi” is not Kannan’s first foray into film production. With his team of four at APP, the 24-year-old has produced a wide spectrum of content such corporate videos and TV dramas for a variety of clients ranging from production house Comicbook Pte Ltd to Vasantham TV celebrity Suthasini.
For Kannan, his career began when he was 17, with a six-month internship stint at Mediacorp Eaglevision, a production arm of Mediacorp that produces tamil programmes for Vasantham. There, he took on various roles, such as production assistant, research writer and gaffer. He also took on projects from external clients.
In 2012, Kannan found himself in the limelight with “A. Maatram,” a Tamil short film that he produced. The romantic thriller — about three friends bound by fate after one of them goes missing — was awarded best screenplay, director, and editing by Online Cinema Talkies, a community of filmmakers in India.
“I like that challenge. If people had no expectations, my journey would be stagnant.”
The Media Development Authority, MES (Film) scholar then progressed to bigger roles that eventually saw him directing a music video for Vasantham TV star Shabir Tabare Alam. The music video, “Maybe,” prompted Shabir’s label, Sony Music India, to support the release of other singles from his album, “Town Bus.”
Kannan admitted that when he first entered WKWSCI, he found it difficult to manage both school and work, but has since learned to better manage his commitments.
“I used to get two to four hours of sleep. But this year, I managed to plan my school and work schedule in a way that they won’t clash,” he said. “It’s still challenging, but better now.”
Looking ahead, Kannan already has his eyes set on even bigger projects - feature films. He plans to apply for the MDA’s New Talent Feature Grant next year, and begin production after he graduates in 2018.
“I have to push myself to achieve more, to move on to the next step. So much support (for APP) is coming from reputable industry players, and I feel that with their guidance, we can achieve that.”