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17th February 2015
On the cusp: Sing J Lee
Title of film: Years & Years, Desire
Director: Sing J Lee
Production Company: Chief Productions
Graduated only two years ago, this UK born and bred Chinese director has been belting out great music videos. Take a look in related content

We’ve been rummaging around trying to find some info about you and found you graduated in 2012. Where from and what were you doing?

I studied Illustration with Animation at Manchester School of Art.

Please briefly describe your childhood.

My parents were always doing graphic design, painting or drawing when I was younger, and so my childhood was filled with art. I was a tearaway and a general nuisance, but drawing would be one of the few activities that could keep my attention for more than five minutes. When I wasn’t doing that, we were travelling up and down the country with my mum and her new paintings, installing them in exhibitions.

How has your duo cultural heritage affected your vision? In fact how would you describe your visual style?

Duo culture has definitely had an influence on me, especially the contrast between the two in terms of censorship, freedom of speech and freedom to create. In my work, I certainly draw upon Asian ideas and aesthetic just as much as I do with Western culture. Chinese storytelling is poetic and lyrical, that is something I find quite compelling too.

My visual style is considered and precise – framing and colour are just as important to me in telling a story or mood as the characters and narrative.

You’ve managed to shoot a fair few music videos – how have these come about? Are they official videos or have you simply kept yourself busy and got out there and made them?

I have an excellent music promo rep – Alexa Haywood who runs Free Agent UK, we’ve been working together from the very beginning. Over the last few years, I’ve had the opportunity to work and collaborate with some great artists and labels.

You’ve worked a lot with Chvrches, how does the collaboration work and how did your relationship with the band come about?

In true modern day style, a couple of years ago, CHVRCHES shared a promo for a Manchester based band on their social media. As it turned out, I had directed that promo. Being a huge fan of CHVRCHES, I reached out to them and asked if I could write on their new single. Timing was good and I wrote on ‘Gun’. Incidentally, I didn’t make that video, but I had the chance to write again for their follow up, which turned out to be ‘The Mother We Share’. They were great people to work with and we became good friends and collaborators for the remainder of their album campaign, we talked a lot about the genesis of the lyrics or the ideas that inspired the music.

We saw your trailer about Molly Perkins a young boxer. Please tell us your plans for this.

This was a small teaser video to accompany a pitch for a documentary open call. We were unsuccessful, but once I put the video online, the positive response was pretty extraordinary, both from doc commissioners and audience alike. I’m now in the process of evolving the idea, pushing it further than just boxing. Without giving too much away, I’m looking at youth and young adults. If anyone does want to get involved, do get in touch.

What are the key lessons you’ve learnt about film making?

Keep shooting, communicate, collaborate!

Are you London based?

I am now, I lived in Manchester for five/six years, I’ve just moved to London at the start of this year. It’s been a pretty surreal couple of months already…

What would the dream job be over the next year?

To continue to work on amazing ideas with great people in music and advertising.
I’m also in development with a new short film, working with long time good friend and producer, Loran Dunn. This particular project could be a really special one, it’s what I’m most excited about.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I love to chat and I like to hear stories, so find me on social media, and let’s go for coffee.


Sing J Lee

Chvrches, The Mother We Share BEHIND THE SCENES feature - Director - Sing J. Lee Producer - Nick Crossley Production Company - Chief Productions Director of Photography - Davey Gilder VFX - Andy Galloway @ Chief & Simon Blackledge @ Space Digital Editor and Colourist - Ian McLaughlin Commissioner - James Hackett Director's Representation - Alexa Haywood @ FreeAgent UK   Girls Like Us, Molly Perkins   Director - Sing J. Lee Producer - Alessandra Sutto Director of Photography - Davey Gilder Sound - Chris Fisher Editor - Wayne Walsh Colourist - Ian McLaughlin