This year marks the 20th anniversary (!) of Eating Air, the first movie directed by lawyer-turned-journalist-turned filmmaker Kelvin Tong, who co-helmed the quirky teen romance flick with Jasmine Ng.  

But it wasn't until five years later that he made his name in horror with the smash, The Maid. Despite his reputation as a horror auteur, Tong has also dabbled in arthouse dramas, crime thrillers, and heartland romps. 

But whatever the type of movie he’s making, there’s one common denominator.  “I work across different genres but what connects all of my films is my love of story,” Tong, 46, tells 8 DAYS via e-mail.

Reflecting on his two-decade-old filmmaking career, Tong says, “I think it’s a privilege to still be working as a filmmaker in a place like Singapore.”

Does he have a favourite Kelvin Tong movie? “I really can’t grade my own movies,” says Tong. “Especially my first one. Your firstborn [Eating Air] will always be special even if it is born with deficiencies.”

He also considers Eating Air as the one movie that taught him the most about directing.  “It was essentially my film school,” says Tong, who doesn’t have a habit of watching his own movies.

“Because there are so many other films by other filmmakers to watch,” he adds. “The last film of mine that I saw was It’s A Great Great World which screened last year at the National University of Singapore, as part of an alumni event.

“I wasn’t looking forward to watching the film because when I watch why own films, all I can see are my mistakes. But surprisingly, I found that It’s A Great Great World had weathered well. I believe it’s the first time I liked watching a film that I had made.”

Here, we ask him to share his memories of making these movies…

Catch The Maid on Ch 5 tonight (Mar 19) at 10pm, as well as on Toggle. You can also catch It’s a Great, Great World, The Faith of Anna Waters, and 7 Letters on Toggle.

Photos: Boku Films