Never-say-die attitude helps Ngee Ann Poly student discover true passion

This article was contributed by Ngee Ann Polytechnic.

Saktiswaran S/o Selvarajoo
Diploma in Film, Sound and Video @ School of Film & Media Studies

Awards: Tay Eng Soon Gold Medal, The Shaw Foundation Silver Medal & Prize (for second most outstanding performance), Diploma with Merit

Never-say-die attitude helps NP student discover his passion for visual story-telling

Failing to snag a spot in your course of choice can sometimes turn out to be a blessing-in-disguise, as  Film, Sound and Video (FSV) graduate Saktiswaran Selvarajoo found out.

Saktiswaran had always been fascinated by aeroplanes and space launch vehicles, and eight years ago, he applied for the Aerospace Technology Nitec course at ITE College West. However, he was unsuccessful in gaining entry to the course as it was oversubscribed.

Serendipitously, he ended up in the Digital Audio & Video Production Nitec course, which got him curious – for the first time – about what went on behind the camera.

Upon graduating from the Nitec course, he was determined to take up a diploma in FSV at Ngee Ann Polytechnic (NP) but did not meet its entry requirement.

Undeterred, Saktiswaran enrolled into a newly-introduced Higher Nitec course in Filmmaking (Cinematography) at ITE College Central where he learnt about the technical aspects of filmmaking.

This experience had opened his eyes to the visual aspects of storytelling and helped him realise how much he enjoyed creating beautiful images out of the film director’s vision. It was then that Saktiswaran started dreaming about becoming a director of photography, or what is known as a cinematographer, instead of his original aim of becoming a film director. 

In his single-minded pursuit of becoming a cinematographer, Saktiswaran emerged as valedictorian in his Higher Nitec course and successfully enrolled into the FSV programme at NP in 2018.

In poly, he was able to further nurture his interest and hone his skills in cinematography with the help of his lecturers and also by taking modules in cinematography, location filmmaking and film history.

At 26 years old, Saktiswaran is older than many of his course mates, but he does not see it as a disadvantage. The aspiring cinematographer believes that his technical training at ITE and freelance gigs as a lighting technician has provided him with relevant experience, allowing him to also help his fellow course mates when they ran into technical difficulties in their filming projects.

Helping his course mates also helped him learn in the process. In fact, he credits filmmaking for making him a better human being and team player. Seeing how a five-minute video requires as many as 15 people to help with the lighting, camera, make-up and more, Saktiswaran learnt about the importance of teamwork in filmmaking. 

Since graduating from NP in February 2021, he has been working at Skyshot Pte Ltd as a cameraman and time-lapse specialist and is also undergoing training to be licensed as an UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) pilot.

He is still working towards his dream of becoming a cinematographer, more specifically a food cinematographer, one day.

Combining his love for food and belief that food is a common language, the Tay Eng Soon Gold Medallist aims to document through films and videos the different types of cuisine in the world, starting with local heritage cuisine.

He has since set up a food media company with some friends where they would work on commercial projects on weekends.