Chan Zewei, Jesse Nicholas and Yong Sheng
Chan Zewei, Jesse Nicholas and Yong Sheng graduated in 2013 and are the founders of Creatures Studios







What is Creatures Studios?
S:Creatures Studios is a collaborative production studio that we set up in 2013. Coming from a design-centric background, we focus on story-telling and video communications as a very tangible experience.
How did this partnership begin?
J:We had never worked together on any project in school. I started doing videos first. And he was more of a photography guy. Then, I think slowly we both grew to appreciate both mediums, and in Europe we started shooting videos and photographs like crazy.
Europe—as in during exchange?
J:Correct. That's why when we came back, we knew we wanted to do something with it. Also, partially because we were already doing some commercial work.
Together? Or separately?
J:Separately.
S:But I think some of these projects always required help. So we would always approach each other for assistance. That’s sort of how we started and found that it was pretty good working together.
I remember that you both came in during my year in 2014, to teach a session on filming and photo-taking.
J:I think it's because in ID at that time, not many people did video presentations, like high quality media presentations. So I think our batch sort of kickstarted this trend. And then from there, because in ID, people want to spoil market, right? People started requesting tips, so we were kind of known as the... S:The guru!
So, how did “Creatures” come about?
S:“Creatures” because “creating pictures”. We wanted a word that was not too intimidating or too overly serious.
So far, what’s the best project that you guys have worked on?
J:I think for me it’s Boracay. I enjoyed Boracay. The nature of the shoot was all fun activities, and we got to take part in it. We got to fly our drones and capture stuff we were not able to do in Singapore. It was a travel promotion video for a client. S:And... we had more creative control. J:Yes, we had a lot of creative control. In fact, the whole thing was pretty much under our creative control. And a lot of first times too, like shooting in extreme environments.
What do you like about each other? In terms of working together.
S:He completes me. J:I think that he has a lot of “wow” ideas, which is a very good starting point for brainstorm. I would be the one pulling things together, like if we can actually do it, if it is physically possible. And I think one thing that we complement very well with each other is that I am quite a “tech fail”. Yeah. He is like everything I can’t do.
Well, opposites attract.
J:In that aspect, and he is very handy. For example, when on a set and something’s missing or spoilt, I’ll be like, “fail already”. While he’ll be like, “WAIT. I’ll go and get...” and then you don’t know what he does. But somehow it will work eventually. He will make things happen. This is the kind of spirit that is very rare.
Look at Jesse complimenting you to this extent! And all you said was that he completes you.
S:I just... find that it takes up a lot energy to think. J:Which is exactly how I complement him! Because he will think of the “wow” ideas and if he is too tired to think of all the details, I will go and connect all the dots and make sure that this grand plan will work.
What is the one thing you both argue over the most?
J:Every time we argue the longest about the politics in Singapore. Not much to do with work, most of the time it’s politics. S:But, last time I would be quite frustrated that he would take very long to reply texts.
You guys are like a couple.
J:Yes, now I am very well trained already, ‘cos I’ve had... how many years with him? S:And one other thing that gets on my nerves would be his plus points, which is being a wet blanket. Like I would feel, “Argghh. Can we just go and do it?” that kind of thing. J:Oh! Yeah. He’s more of a “let’s just do it”, “consequences to the wind” type. But when things happen… S:DIE. Oops, Jesse help.
How was it to start up?
J:Generally it has been smooth sailing, so I think we are very blessed. And I think most start-ups would be struggling with getting jobs in. And I thinkwe have been very blessed in that area.
Coming back to teach at NUS, how has it been?
S:I think it’s been quite good... For me, I enjoy it, and I think Jesse enjoys it too, to pass on what we have learnt, experienced and to share.
What were your best projects in DID?
J:For me, the best was my thesis. Not because the outcome was the best, but because I took a lot of ownership in it. And it was a long process. I started out from an idea completely different with what I ended up with. And the genesis of where the final idea came from was a very long process, which gave me a lot of ownership. Through that I learnt to have a lot of faith in myself. S:I think for me maybe my project in Year 1. J:The replica project! S:For that project, I had to replicate a product. I replicated a bicycle saddle.
Why was it memorable?
J:It was Styrofoam first, and then he went to sand and putty. Many, many layers, a lot of work, sand, almost done! And then... S:Then I wanted it to dry faster, so I went to put it in an oven. Then the Styrofoam melted. J:(Bursts out laughing) Everything melted, right? And that was like a few hours just before the submission deadline. S:The saddle I was replicating was black. So I went to spray paint the model black, used a lot of black tape, and then scrunched up the whole thing, added newspaper, and submitted it. Obviously I didn’t do very well for that. But that was memorable because it allowed me to see how much I had grown and learnt in the four years of ID when I was doing my final year project. Very meaningful. J:The biggest thing I got out of ID was the training of sensitivity. I am a great appreciator of the idea of being sensitive to whatever medium. And this just opens your eyes to being sensitive to what your target audience wants. It is so applicable to every aspect of life. Knowing that is a key advantage. ID does not teach you, but it develops you. And that is not something that is written in the course pamphlet.
The sensitivity of being able to talk to people, to understand people beyond what they have said.
J:Yeah! ID allows you to appreciate things on an artistic level. S:It is on one of those rare dimensions where artistry and technical knowledge and skills blend together perfectly.