Ms Janice Chua aspired to become a film editor in her teens. She studied Film, Sound and Video at Ngee Ann Polytechnic (NP)’s School of Film & Media Studies, and later pursued Fine Arts in Creative Producing in Chapman University.

The 30-year-old eventually made her name in the industry as the associate producer for Hollywood rom-com Crazy Rich Asians (still showing), a runaway hit which has outsold every other rom-com in the 2010s. The achievement is particularly notable given that the film is the first Hollywood production to feature an all-Asian cast in 25 years since The Joy Luck Club.

(Ms Chua at the US premiere of Crazy Rich Asians at the TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX in
Hollywood, Los Angeles. Photo: Instagram/lobsterjans)


Ms Chua on set at Newton Food Centre with the director of Crazy Rich Asians Jon M. Chu. Photo: Instagram/lobsterjans

Now based in Los Angeles, Ms Chua was recently in town to give a talk at her alma mater. The UrbanWire caught up with her and got her to share 5 tips with aspiring filmmakers.

Ms Chua gave a talk to a 50-strong crowd at Ngee Ann Polytechnic’s School of Film and Media Studies (FMS). Photo: Sherlyn Sim

You will grow into who you want to be, just keep exploring.

“It is ok not to know what you want to do. I went into post-production after graduating from Ngee Ann Polytechnic because my lecturer said I was good at it.

It took me a long time to realize I wanted to be a producer. At 19, you don’t have perspective because you cannot see the future. Try your very best to explore what makes you happy as a person and a professional. One day, your gut will tell you what clicks.”

Stay curious.

“Read broadly, ask questions and observe because inspiration can strike anytime. Learn to see from another point of view even when you do not agree so that you can create stories that people can resonate with. Read up on business because it affects how we make content. Observe people whom you look up to so that you can learn from their experiences.”

Network actively.

“Every time you go to a networking session, research on the people you think are going to be there. When you research, you have context and you can ask them questions. When I first started out, I went to networking events and I always have 3 to 5 questions prepped in my head.”

Attend film markets.

“Hong Kong International Film & TV Market is probably the most affordable film market that students can go to because it is very near. They have this thing called project market if you have a story idea you want to tell or get financing. That’s a great place as once you get shortlisted, you go through training. Teach you how to do it and in the end, you have to pitch your idea.”

Be patient

“Everyone feels empowered upon graduating but the reality is not always a bed of roses. Do not let frustration dictate your future. We do not make good decisions when we are frustrated and hence need to surround ourselves with good friends. In my second year in Beijing, I was very close to giving up if not for my friends who were visiting me. I cried in front of them almost every day, and they just listened and literally fed me. Shortly after they left, I got a job offer from Beijing Galloping Horse. And before I knew it, I was working with Hong Kong and American film producer Terence Chang and Chinese-born Hong Kong film director, writer, and producer John Woo!”