Q&A – Pearl Tan


Pearl Tan is the director of Pearly Productions, a film and video production company that provides services to arts organisations and actors. She graduated from the NIDA Acting course in 2005. Originally from Western Australia, she also holds a Communications degree majoring in Media Studies from Edith Cowan University. Her short films Seeya Rach, Thanks for Coming and Baby Cake have screened both nationally and internationally.

Pearl teaches filmmaking at NIDA and has worked behind the scenes for Channel 7, Channel 9, Network 10, Perth’s 96fm and Faith Martin Casting. Pearl was a recipient of the 2009 Mike Walsh Fellowship to attend the New York Film Academy. Her credits as an actor include Motel (Sydney Theatre Company/Wharf 2Loud), Love’s Triumph (Darlinghurst Theatre) feature films Home Song Stories, Sleeping Beauty and Channel 9’s Sea Patrol.

Peril corresponded with Pearl Tan for a brief Q&A.

1. What’s the greatest challenge to you as a practitioner? 

Choosing what stories to tell… or more like, waiting for the right story to make itself known to me. It needs to be a story that won’t let go of me and that I feel strongly about, otherwise I’d never be able to finish the film. If I try too hard to find that story, it never comes, so making time to relax and make way for the stories to emerge (ie lying on the couch staring into space) is always a challenge too.

2. When did you feel like you’ve ‘made it’ as a filmmaker?

I don’t think I have yet!

3. What was your goal when you made Baby Cake?

I received a Mike Walsh Fellowship to study at the New York Film Academy in New York. I chose to study at NYFA for the opportunity to work hands on with 16mm film, because I’m not sure if I’ll get the chance to in the future with the wonderful world of digital taking over. Baby Cake was my final project. Like many of my projects, I wanted to create something which “normalised minorities”.

4. What do you hope audiences take away from the film?

I hope that audiences will think about the complexities of gay and lesbian parenting and that it may open up a dialogue for people who feel uncomfortable talking about it to discuss it with their friends and family.

5. Who inspires you in filmmaking?  Why?

I’m inspired by directors who aren’t necessarily household names but have made a diverse slate of films. For example Marc Forster who has directed Finding Neverland and Stranger Than Fiction through to Monster’s Ball and Qantum of Solace. I like that you can’t recognise his stamp on the film and he simply tells the story in the best way possible to serve the writing, genre and style without any ego.

Author: Lian Low

Lian Low is a writer, editor and spoken word artist. She’s currently at large in Peril‘s outer orbit. Previously editor-in-chief (2010-2014) , prose editor (2009-2014) and on Peril‘s Board until 2016. Find her on http://lianlow.weebly.com/ and Twitter @Lian__Low

Your thoughts?