Interview with Filmmaker Judee Tan (A MAN WAITING FOR THE LEAVES TO FALL)

Directed by Judee Tan
A man waiting for the leaves to fall is a digital performative narration that chronicles the pivotal events in a man’s life. This 20-minute long digital production explores the relationship of the film medium within a new theatre paradigm where theatrical design takes center stage as characters.

Get to know the filmmaker:

1. What motivated you to make this film?
I’ve always wanted to create a show that has no actors or dialogue, to strip it down to the simplest and barest of art form. It was just a wild idea ‘cos I wouldn’t have dreamt of producing this show as it would be very tough to sell tickets to my local audience. Covid lockdowns were the perfect opportunity for me to launch this show. Since the pandemic have created such breakthroughs in people internally, be it negative or positive, it really pushed audiences to open their hearts and minds, and in turn, they also started to seek something different.

At the same time, my father had also passed away, and I knew it was meant to be that I share also, my deepest and spiritual expression to those who are meant to watch the film.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?
I started assembling my team around May/June 2019. There were breaks in between such as my father’s passing, and needing to secure some funding. The end product was completed and launched 22 March 2020.

3. How would you describe your film in two words?
Healing and meditative.

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?
Quite honestly, it was incredibly difficult to get everyone in my team on board with my vision. As a first time director, I quickly found out it’s not the talent that is an obstacle, but the ability to manage both self and others. Otherwise, there’s always Lexapro as a temporary resolve. Then, you learn from experience, Marie Kondo unhealthy coping mechanisms, and get yourself ready for the next climb.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?
I was really relieved and glad because my film had primarily been marketed to my Singapore audience, who’d also known me as a comedian and actress. Watching people who do not know me review a piece of my new and different artistic expression is liberating for me. So it was very meaningful. Thank you.

6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?
Hmm, I still don’t know. I always say theatre blood runs in my veins but I have had to cross paths with films in many ways throughout my artistic career. I feel it’s telling me that the amalgamation is something I probably have to explore. I do feel film as a medium is the advancement of the theatre medium in many ways, and that’s how I see the relationship between the two, which is something I explored in my film actually – the extension of theatre into films, and bringing theatre into people’s homes instead of them leaving their homes to come to the theatre, as a subversion of the traditional dynamic and relationship. Only films can do that.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?
It changes over time of course, but at this moment, I have seen Avatar Way of Water 4x. You can guess which element of the film I resonate with the most 🙂

8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?
I’d say the providence of audience feedback, especially in this day and age, is really the most effective, for me at least. It’s real, concrete and immediate.

9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?

10. What is your favorite meal?
Haha this threw me off, in a good way. I love food so much it’s hard to choose, but my papa used to always buy me this local dish called Hokkien Mee. Google it!

11. What is next for you? A new film?
I am currently working hard on publishing a picture book, and finding myself in the deep sea as I am a first time author. Also, hoping to prepare a new theatre show, an extension or sequel to a solo show I did in 2014 called Nu Men: The Wild Woman Sings. Hmm, maybe I should include some filmic aspects to it…


By matthewtoffolo

Filmmaker and sports fan. CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival

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