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#16 Jean Khamkwan

Bonjour, we’re chatting with Mademoiselle Jean, today! A fashion graduate-turned-filmmaker, Jean’s vast portfolio of work draws us in with her French-inspired retro-pop flair. With over 65 million views, Phum Viphurit’s Lover Boy music video brought a lot of attention to this up and coming director. She’s known for transforming Thai landscapes to Miami beaches and creating fashion films that leave a lasting impression ...

|| How It All Began ||

• What is your background?

Initially, I wanted to study Piano at Mahidol University. However, I switched to pursue Fashion Design at Chulalongkorn University - it was so unexpected because I just followed what my friends were doing. [laughs]

• Did you like fashion design?

Only in the beginning! [laughs] I soon realized creating clothes was not for me - I didn’t enjoy pattern making, which is the core of fashion design.

• So how did you get into filmmaking?

I was inspired by watching fashion films. I thought to myself:

What kind of career will allow me to create work like this?”

From then, I started playing around with cameras and helping out with my friends’ projects.

|| La réalisatrice ||

• How long have you been making films?

I’ve been a filmmaker and director for around 5 years. Some of my works include fashion films for Stretsis and Calvin Klein, as well as music videos like Lover Boy - Phum Viphurit, คิดถึง - Palmy, แสนสุข - Atom and more.

• How did you discover your style?

People around me describe it as retropop, but I wish to define it even clearer. When receiving a client brief, of course, I can add my own signature flair. However, it’s not the same as having my own fully developed creative universe.

Why does someone hire Wes Anderson? Because of his eccentricity and distinctive visuals. When you watch one of his films, there’s never a doubt about it - it screams Wes Anderson.

That’s the level of personal branding I aspire to achieve. I want to create my own artistic bubble, not just have traces of a certain style. This is something I’ve been really trying to develop.

• Any challenges in your line of work?

There’s been a lot of conversation about feminism over the past year. Personally, I’ve been asked many questions trying to pinpoint my struggles, such as:

As a woman, have you ever been disrespected? As a woman, what challenges do you face?

In my opinion, I think a good film is a good film - we should celebrate it because it's something special, regardless of the creator’s gender. People shouldn’t try to glorify women’s work just for the sake of it. They should focus on the quality of the work … and there’s plenty of fantastic films by women!

• Any advice for aspiring filmmakers?

Nowadays, there are so many opportunities out there! Social media is a pretty powerful tool - it’s a great way for artists to share their art to people all around the world and gain publicity.

Don’t wait until you’re ready, just do it! Try writing your own script or gather your friends together to create a short movie, music video or fashion film. I think music videos are a good starting point because there’s usually room for you to express your creative vision, even if it's just for a small indie band.

• What inspires you?

Movies and music - I mainly watch musicals like La La Land and psychological thrillers. Directors like Tim Burton, Jacques Demy and Park Chan-wook inspire me too.

|| Up Close & Personal ||

• What would you want to tell yourself 10 years ago?

Be more confident in yourself! [smile] I usually had a clear image of what I wanted, but whenever I had to make a choice, I felt compelled to ask for others’ opinion to validate my decision.

• What’s one of your proudest achievements?

The International Women’s Day regional campaign I did for Calvin Klein! It was my first international project and was showcased on a huge billboard in Hong Kong. When they posted it on their official Instagram, I had to screenshot it. [laughs]

• A memorable piece of advice you’ve received?

I had a conversation with someone about my ambition for success, and they said:

“Once you’re at the top of the mountain, when you look around, who’d be the ones standing beside you? Have you ever thought about that?”

There was a time when I was in full workaholic mode and had little time for my friends and family - I was so absorbed with the image of who I wanted to become. Hearing this made me have to take a step back and reconsider how I manage my schedule because you can’t buy back lost time. As you journey through life, it’s important to take care of your loved ones along the way too and find balance.

• In your own words, what is love?

I think every relationship has taught me an important lesson. To me, love is about understanding and supporting one another. We should be able to express ourselves freely and not feel forced to behave a certain way. If we start setting expectations and boundaries for one another, it won’t feel natural and cracks will start to form.


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