Khairul and I first met in an editing class in 2005, where we were both studying in Ngee Ann Polytechnic's Diploma in Film, Sound and Video. As we slowly worked together over three years, I realised that Khairul was one of the most driven people I'd ever met. And I've always admired him for his artistic eye, technical adeptness and his warm personality.
So, as a part of my ongoing quest to gain insights into different creative minds, Khairul was the perfect subject for my first podcast interview.
In the podcast, Khai - as he is known in the industry - talks about how began his career as a production assistant to learn the ropes, before crewing in various lighting departments, and working his way up to a Director of Photography. For more than a decade, Khai has worked alongside directors and producers all over the world. As a cinematographer or Director of Photography, Khai's job is to craft the overall visuals of a film, utilising an assortment of practical, technical and psychological tools to create a specific atmosphere. And as Khai explains, in the world of cinema, all it takes is a single frame to convey what a character feeling through lighting, camera movement and colours.
You can see some of his works below in his showreel:
Later in the podcast, Khairul delves into his personal journey to a full-fledged career, why Singapore's media industry is difficult to work in because of shrinking budgets, and how video demands are getting more complex. But despite the rapid challenges -- we used to shoot films on digital video (DV) tape and on a PD170, guys -- Khai has crafted out a stellar career that spans feature films, TV shows, online media and corporate videos. Essentially, he's done it all. But I have to say, one of the more profound discoveries comes at the end where Khai shares his personal philosophy on working and learning.
I won't say too much but Khai believes that being nice can change the course of your life. It's worth listening to the podcast to the end just for his passionate explanation. Lastly, Khai talks about his directorial debut KARA, a sci-fi short film, which he wrote, shot and directed in Malaysia.
You can listen to the podcast on Anchor (above) or subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts to listen to the full interview! Thank you once again to Khairulhakim for taking the time to speak with me.
Khairulhakim is a Director of Photography based in Singapore. Over the course of over ten years, Khairul has worked on various projects in documentaries, television, commercials, music videos and narrative short films. Some of his works include: Charlie Lim’s Conspiracy Music Video (VEVO), Matilda (Short Film), Redbull Campus Cricket (Online documentary), Make Me A Super (Medicorp Okto), Growing Roots (Discovery Channel), Bootcamp Champs (Starhub TV [Online]), Grandma In July (Short Film), Hiccup and Sneeze Season 3 (Okto), Alba Botanica TVC (Online), and Forgotten Youths (Mediacorp Channel U).
In 2009, Khairul clinched the Student Kodak Cinematography Award under his film school in Ngee Ann Polytechnic. Then in 2016, he was a selected filmmaker for the prestigious Asian Film Academy (AFA) intake of 2016. Khairul was only one of three Asian Cinematographers chosen from the region, along with four Asian Directors. Together, they shot and directed a short film with a team of young filmmakers in Busan, Korea. The film titled “Hello Uncle” was the graduating film of AFA during the Busan International Film Festival. Khairulhakim continues to work in the industry, and recently wrote, shot and directed “Kara”, his debut directorial short film.