The star of the recently released local film, The Carrot Cake Conversations, talks about his life and his love for acting. Text by Nadia Shah for hype.
He grew up with the same hopes and reams as many of the other boys around him – Alaric Tay wanted to be anything from a policeman to a fireman.
In the end, the 29-year-old Fly Entertainment artiste settled on being an actor, because “I realised that as an actor, I could be anything I wanted to be”.
He shared this with hype over McGriddles at a McDonald’s near his Clementi home where he lives with his parents.
With an average height – he stands at 175cm – and an average face that may not lave an impression at first glance, you probably wouldn’t guess that Alaric has starred in at least 10 films and 25 television shows if you saw him walking down the street.
In fact, Alaric believes that acting is his “calling”.
“It’s an interesting craft, where you get to reflect life, understand human behaviour and construct characters based on a collaboration between yourself, the director and others involved in the project.”
“It’s so complex and I enjoy breaking down its complexities.”
Last year, he showed off his versatility as an actor when he starred in director Michael Wang’s The Carrot Cake Conversations (read the review here), a movie about four strangers who get to know each other over a plate of carrot cake.
There, he played Daniel, a businessman who had caught his wife cheating on him.
“I usually get comic roles while Daniel was more of a naturalistic character. It was a good break from the norm.”
To him, the film is just like carrot cake – it may or may not be to your taste.
It’s a very niche and experimental kind of film, where the information is revealed through talking. I think people who enjoy being immersed in conversations will appreciate it.”
Chopsticks and carrot cake aside, Alaric also has a passion for filmmaking.
At the moment, he’s working on his own film, Thunder Boys (working title), which is about “a group of fallen athletes looking to redeem themselves as sportsmen”. The movie is expected to be released in June.
Alaric’s love for film inspired him to join the Film, Sound & Video course at Ngee Ann Polytechnic.
There, he honed his filmmaking skills during an internship under lecturer Miss Jacqueline Tan, where he was involved in the production of a documentary about parenting, The Joy of Parenting.
He still keeps in contact with Miss Tan, 43, who says, “I’m very happy for Alaric and I admire the fact that he believes in himself and wants to act and direct. I was very proud of his film When We Were Bengs.”
When We Were Bengs (2006), written and directed by Alaric, received three awards at the ReelHeART International Film Festival 2007 for Best Experimental Film, Best Sound and Best Editing (see separate report below).
Alaric, who holds a degree in Film & Television from Griffith University, got his first acting gig at the age of 16 at MediaCorp TV as the posterior of a lion in Channel 8’s Kung Fu Master.
Last December, he became the first Singaporean to be appointed to the board of directors of non-profit organisations Breaking Into Hollywood. Based in Los Angeles, it aims to help aspiring stars achieve their goals.
Today, he believes, “I’ll probably die acting and making films. I don’t ever want to stop telling stories.”
Alaric Tay shows hype the three items that best represent him in his life.
Sanyo Xacti camcorder
This pen was a 21st birthday present from a friend, with my name engraved on it. I sometimes get sudden flashes of inspiration and use immediately to jot down my thoughts.
I’ve always believed that how someone lives their life is dependent on their relationship with God and I feel I have a close relationship with him.
Beng Enough For Gold
Additional report by Kenneth Cheong
While the title may give the impression of yet another futile attempt by a Singaporean director at making it big, When We Were Bengsproved very much otherwise with its playful scenes, funny names and excellent (although sometimes overdone) portrayals.
Set in the fictional Comic-book town, When We Were Bengs tells a very short tale between two brothers, Heng and Bee, the latter of which often gets the brunt of Heng (played by Alaric)’s incessant bullying.
Despite their differences, the two still make quite a lethal combination at Para-para dancing – a hot thing of the arcades – often attracting crowds of fans who start grooving symmetrically with them to the beat of the machines!
Alas, every tale must have a villain, appearing in the form of Ang Ku Kueh, a gang leader who kidnaps Bee over a peeping incident. Heng valiantly rescues his brother, getting clobbered by Ang and his cronies in the end, putting an elaborate but rather corny emphasis on the value of brotherhood.
While notably a short film (12 minutes to be exact), the film has nevertheless managed to strike chords with international audiences, being invited across an impressive list of film festivals, including those below:
30th Asian American Film Festival
Cambo Fest Film & Video Festival 2007
International Short Film Festival Detmold 2007
HollyShorts Film Festival 2007
Comic-Con International Independent Film Festival 2007
With that many a number, critics would have to agree that it’s certainly not a case of Si Bay Heng (meaning ‘very lucky’ in Hokkien, coincidentally also Heng’s full name in the film) for Alaric and his crew indeed.