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Check out Jon Keng

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jon Keng.

Jon, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
I started as a wedding photographer in Singapore for 10 years, before I decided to make the career jump to filmmaking. Weddings were fun and happy occasions, but I wanted a more structured form of visual storytelling and to also work in a team environment. After saving as much as I could, I moved to LA to attend AFI’s cinematography program in 2013. Coming from Singapore, a career in the arts is usually frowned upon, and there were not many role models whose path I could follow. I did not know anybody in LA and had no connections upon graduating, so I worked mostly as a camera assistant to make ends meet. Fortunately, I was lucky enough that my thesis film at AFI, ‘Fata Morgana’, did well on the festival circuit and I was slowly able to get referred to other short film directors in town. It took over 30 short films and three years after graduating from AFI that I was finally allowed to shoot my first feature film, ‘Revenge of the Pontianak’. From that feature, I was fortunate enough to continue building on the momentum and have just completed my 6th feature film.

We’d love to hear more about your work. What do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?
Cinematography is the telling of stories through a moving image. I use a combination of lensing, camera position/movement and lighting to influence how the audience perceives the story and characters. The aspect of cinematography I like the most is being able to explore the intricacies of interpersonal relationships, being able to show differences in status, emotional state and desire in a visual way. As for what I hope people take away from my work, I hope that they do not get distracted by it, and instead find themselves immersed in the story world.

What do you think it takes to be successful as an artist?
Success for me is not really about how beautiful my images look, but whether the movie works as a whole. I think that making a good film is very difficult. Unlike other jobs where there are clear steps to follow to ensure a successful result, it takes decades of practice to even tell a story effectively, and all that experience does not guarantee that the movie will be good. But it is the pursuit of this illusiveness that drives me as a cinematographer.

Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your work?
A summary of my work; reel, trailers, can be found on my website (www.jonkeng.com) as well as my agency’s site (wp-a.com/clients/jon-keng). My first feature film, ‘Revenge of the Pontianak’, can be found on Netflix in all regions, while my 2nd and 4th feature, ‘Burn’ and ‘Before You Know It’, can be found on Amazon, Vudu and Apple TV. My 5th feature, ‘Little Big Women’, will be opening across theaters in Taiwan in May 2020. A couple of my more popular short films like ‘Fata Morgana’ and ‘The Lightkeeper’ can be found on Omeletto.

I am a strong believer in creating movies that an audience (and my friends/family) can enjoy, and not just to fulfill our filmmaking desires, so the best way to support my work is to just go out and watch the movies!

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Image Credit:
Juliana Tan

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