Ian Fang delves through painful past for first film

The 29-year-old revealed the struggles that he went through as a foreign student when he first came to Singapore


Photos: Ian Fang

As of tonight, Ian Fang would have officially added another feather into his many-plumed cap. In addition to being an actor, rapper, clothing designer and restaurateur, he can now proudly call himself a director.

He, along with fellow actors Bryan Wong, Shane Pow, Priscelia Chan, Joanne Peh and Romeo Tan, embarked on their maiden directorial journey with Mediacorp initiative Fresh Takes!, which promotes new talent in the local entertainment industry – be it in acting, directing, or scriptwriting.

Ian’s virgin directing experience has been a deeply personal one, as he delves into the days just after he moved to Singapore with his mother. Titled If Only, we’re given an intimate look at just some of the struggles that he faced as a student far away from home, and how he managed to make it to where he is today.

“Of course, not everything that’s depicted in the film is real,” Ian chuckled during his interview with Toggle. “There are some things that I had to dramatise because this is a movie, but I won’t tell you which scenes are real, and which aren’t. It’s up to the viewers’ imaginations, but everything in If Only is based on my personal experiences.”

As Ian spoke to us at the Fresh Takes! press conference, with his lead actor Richie Koh by his side, we couldn’t help but to marvel at how well the casting was made. While Richie and Ian would never be mistaken as twins, or even siblings for that matter, there was something in the way they carried themselves that was oddly similar.

Ian explained, “I’m very lucky to have found such an amazing cast. The younger version of me was played by Damien Teo, and Richie played the more grown-up me. My mother was played by Aileen Tan. Originally, she told me to look for someone else and go back to her if I really couldn’t find anyone, but in the end, we went ahead with working on this project together and all of them truly exceeded my expectations.”


Richie, who has been slowly but surely building up his acting career, shared with us that there were times where he wanted to understand the motivations behind what his character did in the show, but didn’t quite know how to approach Ian about it.

“He was very transparent about the script being heavily based on his personal experiences, and there were times when I wanted to discuss certain scenes with him to get a better understanding of my character. However, some of these scenes were quite sensitive, so I ended up speaking to Ian about it only when we were on set,” he said.

“I can’t tell you which scenes exactly they were, but Ian explained the motivations behind my character’s actions so well that I was able to convey my emotions even better, and he was so experienced and reliable that it didn’t feel like it was his first time directing.”

By sharing the difficult memories he had while adapting to life in Singapore, Ian hopes to spread the message to students and parents coming here that they are not alone.

“For local students who might not have thought about the hard times that foreign students have when they first come here, I also hope that they can see this as an honest reflection of how things are like from another point of view,” Ian mused.

“And for those having a hard time, I want to tell them this: you are not alone and things will get better.”

“Besides,” Ian added with a chuckle, “After going through all that I did, I think I’m doing pretty okay these days.”

Fresh Takes! airs every Friday, 9pm on Channel U and Toggle.
Catch Ian Fang’s short film ‘If Only’, March 29, 9.30pm on Channel U and Toggle.

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Shane Pow wanted to cast Aloysius Pang in his directorial debut

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