Former music video director now exec creative director Eric Cruz talks about the value of trusting new directors

Eric Cruz has worked in many markets – W+K Lab in Tokyo, as well as in London and is now creative director for Leo Burnett Kuala Lumpur. We loved his directing work for Japanese band Hafana all those years ago when he was at Tokyo Lab – so he certainly knows the vibey young directing scene. Eric was also responsible for hiring new director Quek Shio Chuan to direct the short film for the Malaysian oil and gas company Petronas, Strangers which won the Adfest Lotus New Director award.  

Was it always your intention to use a new director to shoot Petronas, Strangers film or had the work of this director caught your eye previously?

I first noticed young, up-and-coming director Quek Shio Chuan when his film Guang which is a film about his brother ran in the  BMW Malaysia’s Shorties, a competition for young directors.  He had a knack for beautifully observered humanity.

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And I was always keen to work with new directors rather than established ones because they are hungrier to make stuff and easier to collaborate with.

So we started working together on a few projects – Samsung Yuna The Sparkle Project was our first collaboration, a music gig, reminiscent of W+K TOKYOLAB.

It’s interesting that you used a longer format to make a short film for Petronas. What was behind this thinking?

We wanted to try something new and more engaging. Leo Burnett Kuala Lumpur had a historic legacy under the late Yasmin Ahmad who directed most of the Petronas films herself.  We wanted to build on that but also make it different. Long format film was something that lent itself to this particular idea, so we went for it. It was a passion project for both the production company and LBKL. Reservoir Productions really invested in the project and we really just wanted to make stuff that was different from everything else out there. A film that could really connect with people.

And here’s Quek Shio Chuan’s latest film, Sid n Barry:

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What would be your advice to new directors in the Asian area?

My advice to new directors anywhere in the world is to always stay true and authentic to who you are. We are the stories we tell and it’s our responsibility to make stories that reflect who we are, the times we live in and the place we come from. I always love work that celebrates the soul and identity of the culture it stems from.

It’s getting increasingly harder to be different with the world becoming smaller. The only way to be different is to offer something true of yourself.

There are of course different cultural sensibilities but is there a dynamic directing scene for new directors in the Far Eastern world?

I think Asia is a vibrant market of new voices with new untold visions. And I love being in a part of the world that has such vibrancy, with strong potent stories – yet to be told, seen and heard. That’s why I came back to Asia. It seems a more fitting geography for me to continue to create.

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