Oct 28, 2016
At the age of five, Chan Tsz Wai entered a fascinating world in which almost everything, from the film cameras to the clapperboard to the big studio ladder, absorbed her attention. She was a child actor, appearing in children’s television programmes, getting the odd speaking role and occasionally hosting.
But the experience was nothing short of magical, it was unforgettable, so much so that she dreamed of becoming a director or producer. Fast-forward 13 years and Chan is on the path to achieving her dream.
The film and television major at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts has recently been selected by her teachers as one of six students to receive a Jaeger-LeCoultre Performing Arts Scholarship. Launched by the Swiss watchmaker last December, the scholarships are granted to outstanding students at the Academy in Wan Chai. One student from each of the Academy’s six schools is selected each year.
“The scholarship is definitely very encouraging for me. But it’s also very practical. I used it to buy a good computer, which I badly needed,” Chan says. The 18-year-old spends much time in front of a computer during post-production, the fine-tuning stage of film-making. Chan and her coursemates have access to A-grade facilities at the Academy, but the demand from the students and long edits often mean delays or working late.
“It’s so much nicer to have a post-production computer facility at home. This way I can also have more time for my studies,” she says. “When you do an academic programme that involves the use of technical resources, institutional support is highly valuable and I’m grateful for what we’re offered.”
Jaeger-LeCoultre’s sponsorship of the Academy extends to donating watches for auction at the Academy Ball. The funds raised contribute towards the individual scholarships and to maintaining the Academy’s facilities. This year’s ball takes place on December 3.
Chan has completed the first year of her programme and has three years to go. She is determined to work in television or film and she is clear that her passion lies behind the camera, despite – and because of – her experience as a child actress.
“Acting is not really my thing. I’m a rather shy person. But, more importantly, it’s wonderful to be the one who creates a world to be presented to the audience and decides what characters will be in that world. Actors, on the other hand, are in a relatively passive position. I prefer to call the shots,” she says.
It’s not easy to take the driving seat in the world of television and film, but Chan remains undaunted. After finishing the course, she expects to create her own short films.
While the future is uncertain, one thing that is certain is her healthy respect for talent on both sides of the camera. “I remember when I was on one television programme, an associate director shouted at the children, hurrying them along,” she says. “At that time, I thought to myself that I would be a nicer director when I grew up. I hope that dream will come true.”