Building 'Kingdom': An Interview with Tan Wei Keong

After its world premiere at the 2018 Singapore International Film Festival, Tan Wei Keong’s animated short Kingdom travelled to the 2019 Berlinale. In Kingdom, a man wanders into a forest. Alone, he walks, falls apart, shouts, and transmutes. 

Wei Keong’s sixth film is richly imaginative and nudges the borders between mind and body, human and the woods. SINdie asked Wei Keong for his thoughts on the creative process behind Kingdom.

SINdie: How long did you take to make Kingdom? 

Wei Keong: Kingdom took 5 months to create.

Did you draw from actual places to construct the forest in Kingdom?
When Kingdom was in its development stage, I was at the Djerassi Resident Artists Program that was located just south of San Francisco. It is situated on acres of undisturbed forest and the residency program works really hard with artists to preserve the land and ecosystem, and that formed the background photographs used in Kingdom. I have also recently started living in the Bay Area, so this location naturally provided the backdrop for my search of home and community. Although many of my animations are autobiographical, they reflect important events (marriage, death, etc.) and sentiments (identity, loss, etc.) that are commonly shared and empathised by audiences.

Was there a sequence that was especially challenging to create?

The entire project started with the image of a man literally falling apart. And because it is the most complex sequence to animate, I worked on it very early on with CraveFX, an animation and VFX studio based in Singapore, led by Joshua Tan and Davier Yoon. We collaborated on a 3D visualisation sequence which was then drawn and shaded with a real pencil. It lasted 5 seconds on-screen and is the most important sequence in the film.

Have you been surprised by any particular interpretations of Kingdom so far?

No one has yet come up with a peculiar interpretation, but viewers have highlighted shots that they interpret as references to issues like LGBTQIA+ and same-sex marriage that I have addressed in my previous films.

Do you think isolation is inevitable? 
This question reminds me of a childhood memory that took place when I was in Secondary 1. For reasons that I have forgotten, I told one of my friends that I did not need anyone in my life, and he replied saying that everyone needed friends. And he turned out to be right. I believe people grow up searching for a community to belong to, and most of us do feel isolated most of our lives. But we also have the ability to spread joy and extend help to others. This act of including the ‘others’ takes very little effort and can be done by many.

What are you interested in experimenting with next (whether themes or art style)?

Animation is still an amazing medium to tap into the bizarre unconscious, and I enjoy writing stories on characters with complex personalities. I like the act of manipulating narratives and exploring time and history. I am also interested in deconstructing the viewer-in-cinema experience by using projection and performance in a gallery space. I wish to work with people who are excited about new media and want to create new ways in telling stories.

Written by Teenli Tan

Previous Post Next Post

Contact Form