You know passion when you see it. That’s what engulfed us when we sat down for a chat with Kannan Vijayakumar. A TP alumnus, from the diploma of Digital Film & Television (previously known as Moving Images), Kannan has achieved a fair bit at a budding age of 23. He was recently awarded the Media Education Scholarship by the Media Development Authority to pursue his film studies at Nanyang Technological University (NTU).
Kannan is well-known in the film industry as a young director. His docu-dramas not only won him awards, but gave him enough recognition to strive as a director, producer and writer in his very own start-up film company, Anchor Point Pictures.
It might seem like Kannan has got it all figured out—but he reminds us that the reason for his success is a whole different world of perseverance and hard work. Isn’t that how life is? Success is brought into light but hard work is barely recognised.
Starting off on a rough note, his first year in TP was anything but smooth-sailing as he found himself struggling to cope with his modules. When Kannan received his results, he realized that he had to put things into perspective.
“It’s not about studying,” Kannan said. “It’s about liking what you do, learning from it and then applying it to life.”
When there’s passion toward a subject, it doesn’t require studying anymore. Everything else comes second nature. And that’s what Kannan felt about making documentaries.
“It’s not just a story, you tell a story to really touch people,” Kannan described his motivation behind his documentary on sanitation in Medan, Indonesia.
Sadness and helplessness consumed him as he visited these garbage-covered slums where locals struggled to live. There was neither light nor electricity and the stench was so overpowering.
“The only way a human story is so powerful, is when it’s shown visually,” Kannan said.
He was touched that locals spoke with such kindness and he knew his purpose in life was to share their story, and many other stories to come. That’s how Kannan fell in love with directing.
“Directing means bringing the story alive,” he said. “If your story is good, 50 percent of your job is done as a director.”
Following his international documentary achievement, Dark Waters, Kannan moved on to work with MediaCorp Eaglevision, specialising in Tamil docu-dramas. Kannan went from clapperboard-holding to scriptwriting in a short span of time. He was approached with an opportunity, and he ran with it.
In fact, his contribution to write scripts for a Tamil docu-drama, Vizhigal, resulted in the highest-rated episode, winning the annual best docu-drama award on a Vasantham award show. The series covered various topics of interest in our society—and Kannan’s contributions took it to the next level.
As a young director, Kannan continues to dream big and strive for more success. He’s even hosted an Annual Film Festival, Thiray, in 2014, integrating various films worldwide into our local community.
“My main aim is to give a platform for those who are doing well, but don’t have an opportunity.”
And that’s how he is. Always wanting to lend a helping hand, and always striving to be the voice of the unheard.
Kannan’s interest in film sparked during his younger days when his mother exposed him to various genres of films, but mostly offbeat artistic films. She continues to be Kannan’s motivation and encouragement.
In that case, don’t we all need a catalyst to push us in the right direction? How do we stay focused and strive for our dreams?
“You need to envision yourself in the place you hoped for, and your problems will be very small,” said Kannan, with positive affirmation.