ST Communities' top reader contributor Eternality Tan on his unusual name and passion for films

ST Communities top contributor Eternality Tan
ST reader Eternality Tan (right) - with ST journalist Gurveen Kaur - was the first contributor for ST Communities, and was top contributor from 2012 to 2014 with his movie reviews.PHOTO: SHARON LEE
ST Communities reader Eternality Tan
ST Communities reader Eternality Tan (right) - with then-editor Ernest Luis - was the first contributor for ST Communities, and was top contributor from 2012-2014 with his movie reviews.PHOTO: SHARON LEE

He might be The Straits Times (ST) Communities' top reader contributor but to many, what is particularly intriguing about him is his name - Eternality Tan.

Netizens have often questioned whether he actually exists just based on his unusual name.

Well, we can confirm that Eternality is very much a real person. He popped by The Straits Times office to collect his goodie bag after missing ST Communities' first anniversary party in November.

Eternality (or ET, as he is known to friends), 25, started writing film reviews in 2007 and posting them on his blog Filmnomenon. Since then, his passion for films has expanded into a full-time job but he somehow manages to keep churning out reviews on his blog, as well as for ST Communities.

To date, he has published close to 100 reviews on the microsite since Oct 2012, when The Straits Times launched ST Communities.

We recently caught up with the film education entrepreneur to find out just how passionate he is about films, and of course, to uncover the meaning behind his name.

Q: The origin of your name and if you came up with it, why so?

There is no significance to my name, other than that I like the word "eternal", so I decided to explore making a name up based on that word. That was during a time of transition after the O Levels and before I joined a junior college.  I decided that since I was the only one from my secondary school who enrolled in Meridian JC, I had that rare opportunity to rebrand myself in a new environment without any past expectations.

It now seems like "Eternality Tan" is synonymous with film reviews and everything that is film, which is everything that I am passionate about.

When did your interest in films begin?

I liked watching action movies when I was younger, but that was for leisure. It was only when I enrolled in Meridian JC in 2005 that my passion for films started. The school had one of the best DVD collections around, and I would borrow two films each week to watch. I was also reading reviews by online critics, in particular those of James Berardinelli.

What spurred you to start your blog in 2007?

Berardinelli inspired me to write reviews because he is, like me, an avid moviegoer who decided to start a website focusing solely on movie reviews.  But what ultimately spurred me to create my own blog was the impact of two films - Schindler's List and Blade Runner - on me. I couldn't not pen down my thoughts on them.

How many reviews have you chalked up thus far?

Currently, I have 979 published reviews (as of Dec 18, 2013) on my blog. Counting down to my major milestone of 1000!

How did you go from writing reviews on a blog to working full-time in the film field?

I think one thing led to another. I wrote reviews consistently over many years, got invited to media screenings, met fellow film enthusiasts and film-makers, and did my final-year honours thesis on Film Literacy & Education in Singapore.

I also had the opportunity to run film festivals as part of my undergraduate days at the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information.

Recently, I started The Filmic Eye with several partners - a film education initiative that aims to bring film education to schools and the public.

How did you come to know about ST Communities?

From The Straits Times newspaper itself! I realised that since I have been publishing my reviews so regularly on my blog for the last seven years, I can do the same for ST Communities by sharing reviews with ST Communities readers.

With home-grown film-maker Anthony Chen earning accolades worldwide for his film Ilo Ilo, Singapore is slowly but surely gaining a wider presence in the film industry. How do you find the Singapore film scene?

Getting better and better. Singapore cinema is on the rise and, with the critical success of Boo Junfeng's Sandcastle and Chen's Ilo Ilo in recent times, there is a momentum that hopefully can be sustained by the emergence of up-and-coming home-grown film-makers.  This is how a Singapore New Wave can develop and sweep the world, just as how the French New Wave swept the world in the 1960s and the Taiwanese New Wave in the 1980s.  It is culturally important for Singapore.

Do you have an all-time favourite film?

Yes, Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List, which gave me a life-changing cinematic experience.  And also Stanley Kubrick's influential 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Sergio Leone's operatic Western, Once Upon A Time In The West.

Do you see yourself continuing a career in film in the next 20 years?

Yes, I see myself working closely with films for many decades to come because that is my passion and I can't see myself doing anything else with that amount of passion.