Aaron Chieng

Living out his dreams

Article from the Sun daily by Bissme. S (posted on 18 Mar 2020)

TWENTY two-year-old Sarawakian Aaron Chieng is an aspiring cinematographer and film director. His interest in digital media started with photography back in 2015.

Later, that interest grew into a passion for filmmaking when he joined the Digital Film Production programme at Sunway University in 2017. He recently graduated with a Bachelor in Digital Film Production.

Last year, he was handpicked to join a team representing Sunway University to shoot a documentary regarding the Asia Pacific Dance Festival taking place in University of Hawaii in Honolulu.

Aaron also co-founded an independent production house called Ninth Floor Pictures in mid-2019 with three of his university friends. They are heavily involved in shooting short films, documentary and music videos. His ultimate goal is to become a feature film director.

Tell us more about yourself.

“I was born in Sibu, Sarawak. I am the youngest in the family. I have four siblings.

“My father is in the banking line, while my mother works for a travel agency.

“My parents have been supportive about my dream to be a filmmaker, even though they do not understand my profession. Of course, they are worried I won’t make enough as a filmmaker. I have to prove to them that I can stand on my own two feet.”

Did you always want to be a filmmaker?

“When I was young, I did not have any ambition. I did not know what I wanted to do with my life. When I was 18, I took a Foundation in Arts programme.

“In this course, you are exposed to various subjects such as accounting, psychology, mass communication, filmmaking and more.

“I loved filmmaking the most. I started taking photos first, followed by videos. I posted my work online and received some praise. I love telling stories through pictures.”

Where will we see you five years from now?

“Right now, I am making short films and documentaries, but my real dream is to be a feature film director. I want to make a name for myself within, as well as outside, the Malaysian film industry.

“I have a dream to bring Malaysian cinema to the world, including having my film nominated at the Oscars. Recently, a South Korean film won best picture, so nothing is impossible.”

What kind of themes do you explore?

“I love to explore family issues. Family is an important part in our lives, and will appeal to all kinds of audiences. I want my films to touch their hearts.”

What are some of your works?

“I have worked on a 15-minute documentary called Borrowed Time, with my classmates where we highlighted the well-known shopping centre Ampang Park, which was closed down. We spoke to vendors who had worked in the shopping centre for more than 20 years.

“I did a documentary called Flower of Grass where I focused on my relationship with my father. I always felt there was always a gap between me and him. I interviewed my siblings and my family.

“I feel my father can be shy and restrained in his emotions. I think he loves his children, but he is not very demonstrative.”

Which directors do you admire?

Stanley Kubrick. I am very impressed by his films, especially 2001: A Space Odyssey. That film was made in the 1960s, but the technology and visuals [do not] look outdated.

“[Locally], I really admire Dain Said. His films always have strong and interesting characters, combined with local culture and mystery.

“I can still remember how his films make me feel, even though I watched them a few months ago. This is how I describe a film with a very strong flavour.”

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