Barnabas Chua (CS’20) shares his experience and thoughts on being a freelance commercial film director.
PHOTO: TAN ANNE ZENN
When he joined the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, Barnabas Chua (CS’20) originally had aspirations to become a radio DJ. However, he discovered his passion for film and embarked on his journey to become a commercial film director.
As a commercial film director, the 26-year-old has built an extensive list of clients, including AirAsia, Samsung, VICE Asia and Porsche. His versatile and distinct sense of aesthetics is supported by a background in fashion and documentary photography.
Chua’s experience with the film industry was established even in his time at WKWSCI. As a broadcast student, Chua cut his teeth in the film industry by taking on commercial gigs outside of school. He also flew to Dubai for commercial shoots and completed internships within and outside of the film and advertising industry. His Final Year Project, “The Stray Moth”, clinched the top FYP in the broadcast track.
Chua’s decision to delve into the film industry was affirmed during a six-month overseas exchange at the University of Texas at Austin. There, he took a music video production module which provided him with opportunities to shoot music videos for Texan bands like The Irons. Back in Singapore, Chua also directed music videos for musician Marcus Lee.
What Chua treasures most as a freelance film director today is the creative freedom and control he has over his projects. Freelancing gives him the authority to allocate his time and energy to different projects, he said.
But building a portfolio like his in a few years did not come easy, Chua said, acknowledging the strain and fatigue that comes with working in this industry.
When asked about how he ensures that work does not become mundane, Chua said: “It is important to keep your passion alive by doing passion projects on the side.”