A Bona Fide Independent Filmmaker


James Lee Thim Heng is a man with an intense stare, one that you figure a movie director should have: sharp, imposing, ready to spot mistakes and see ingenuity.

But sit with him for a while and you’ll find that Lee is amicable and speaks passionately about films – things like his distaste for current superhero films, or how he walked out of the recent Avengers movie. Bring up a few topical issues, especially those involving the country, and he would react animatedly.


An article called him a “crazy” film director; in some ways, Lee is a little eccentric. This is, after all, an independent film director who has ditched the local cinema and TV industry altogether to start his own digital movie platform, under his Doghouse 73 production house.


Using it, Lee has been producing and directing short films that go online for free. Some would call it a crazy venture, while others see it as a way to break the stagnancy plaguing the local film industry. Regardless, it’s a bold move that embraces the spirit of indie filmmaking that is rare here.Crazy or otherwise, you can’t deny that Lee belongs in the industry. He has just bagged seven awards at Singapore’s Gong Creative Circle Awards 2015, including Director of the Year, with his short film Last Day of School. It is a heart-warming tale of sacrifice, dedicated to the OrangeAid Future Development Programme by NTUC Income, which supports underprivileged children and youth in Singapore.


So is Lee a (slightly unhinged) film director, or a start-up venture frontiersman of the internet age? Well, who says you can’t be both?


Read original article by Tan Jee Yee on Focus Week

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