School of the Arts graduate's ambition to become film-maker who tells South-east Asian stories
Miss Ashley Jane Leow Shiyi, 18, is one of the recent graduates from the School of the Arts (Sota) who received their International Baccalaureate examination results last Friday.
"Although I'm happy with my results, I've never been too concerned with grades as my portfolio and skills are more valuable to me," Miss Leow told The New Paper.
She entered Sota through the Direct School Admission exercise with her acting.
She said: "I have been exposed to performing from an early age through drama academies like ACT 3 and Julia Gabriel. I have always liked being on stage."
Intimidated by the other talented student actors in Sota, however, she retreated backstage, where she found her strength in directing plays.
After studying theatre in Sota for four years, she chose to specialise in film in her last two academic years despite the challenge of only having a short time frame to learn an entirely new art form, from film equipment and software to understanding the different roles of film-makers.
When asked about the transition, Miss Leow said she realised her directing skills were better suited for film when she did well for a short film she submitted for her literature project.
That experience sparked her passion of using film to convey messages such as the importance of human relationships to the younger generation.
Although Miss Leow hopes to find her own voice in the film industry, she is inspired by South Korean award-winning film-maker Park Chan-wook of Oldboy and The Handmaiden fame.
"He produces psychological thriller films.
"I like his vision and artistic plot direction," she said.
Miss Leow also looks up to local director and screenwriter Kirsten Tan, the first Singaporean to win the World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award for Screenwriting at the S`undance Film Festival in 2017, for her debut feature film Pop Aye.
Miss Leow initially faced the societal pressure of choosing a more ideal career.
However, her parents were supportive from the beginning and always motivated her to pursue her passion.
Miss Leow has since directed an adaptation of Desmond Sim's play The Durian Man And His Daughters, and a short film titled Jazz After Nine, among others, for school.
She plans on taking a gap year to gain film-making experience through jobs and internships before going to university.
She aspires to be a prominent film-maker who uses story-telling to focus on South-east Asian stories.