Profile: Directors Think Tank Director Darrel Hyon-Le’

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Malaysian-born and KL based Darrel Hyon-Le’ is a film director at Directors Think Tank, Asia’s leading production company with offices around the region including Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia.

When the industry vet isn’t directing, he can be found controlling his bitcoin volatility anxiety.

We caught up with Darrel to find out more…

What’s your favourite part of the job? 

Pre Covid, it definitely was the adrenaline rush before attending a face to face pre-production meeting, post Covid, I find myself getting the same kind of excitement from selecting a zoom meeting face filter. 

What is your most productive time of day and why?

I am known to be a creature of the night. Pass midnight, delirium sets in and that state of flux have proven to up my creativity and some of my best work happens in these witching hours.

If you didn’t have this job, what would you be doing instead?

I would be a lifeguard at a waterpark, but with my waking hours taking place mostly at night, I doubt I can keep the job unless midnight swims becomes the next sporting fad. 

How early did you know this would be your path?

I think I received my calling really early in life, as a kid I was pretty glued to the television, and on one faithful afternoon, I encountered an ad featuring a kid in an astronaut suit floating around in the kitchen after taking one bite out of the sandwich, a PEANUT butter sandwich. That moment I was done for – I thought to myself, “Oh what fun to make such fantastical dreams, so I’m gonna make commercials. I mean how difficult can it be!”

Can you tell us a bit about some of your recent work? 

The producers at Directors Think Tank have certainly kept me busy since becoming part of the family.  I’ve had a full spectrum of shoots from a festive spot for Toyota, a caffeinated musical driven spot for Nescafe and a shot done entirely remotely for telecommunications giant Maxis. 

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Do you put on a different hats when shooting for specific genres?

A have tons of hats! Like any fashion victim, I have one to match each type of work I do.

I also tend to over prep and accessorize – like bringing a gun to a knife fight and when a gun is needed, I make sure it matches my hat.

Have you been continuing to shoot during the COVID crisis? Can you describe that experience?

It’s definitely no walk in the quarantine park but I am grateful that my salvation is a very capable DTT team from various regions since many of the recent shoots had to be directed remotely I just directed a shoot that took place entirely in India.

Currently I’m prepping for another shoot that will be done in Singapore with me right here in KL.

My key learnings are very specific when directing and have an amazing internet connection for these remote shoots.

Do you have a favourite piece of kit?

My laptop the host of unspeakable and unthinkable content.

Are you often asked to do more than direct? If so, what are you asked to do?

I am my mother’s personal tech support. I love you mom.

What are three pieces of technology you can’t live without?

Google translate to advance my linguistic skills or lack of therein,  dishwasher to cleanse my cup noodle fine china and cybernetic chip implant that helps me keep my geek real.

This is a high-stress job. What do you do to de-stress from it all?.

I’ll transfer the focus of anxiety to bitcoin volatility.

How do you manage producers’ expectations with the reality of what can really be done?

It’s like being put through a lie detector, the best you can do is to tell the truth, because if you don’t you will definitely witness the wrath.

How do you manage your time? Do you manage expectations or try everything they ask of you?

I think my excitement quotient didn’t mature beyond age 5, so today, I’m still like the kid who gets overly excited about anything and everything, and so time management becomes a bit of an issue. Google Calendar and all the amazing producers bring me closer to adulthood.

When someone who is starting out asks what they should learn, what do you recommend?

As I learn visually, I would suggest drawing, it’s proven to be the best way to visualise and communicate the vision to fellow collaborators.

How do you take criticism? Do you find yourself defensive or accepting of others’ ideas (good and bad)?

I embrace criticism just like any cyborg would – after all my cybernetic implant chip needs big data.

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