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Elliot Tan: NUS Student and YouTube Star Extraordinaire

How did you get involved with Garena, and making YouTube videos?

It actually started out with me being a game commentator for Garena. Later on they (Garena) wanted to start a YouTube channel and I was part of the team that was involved.

How has things changed since you first began making videos in late 2011?

We’ve definitely gotten better at making films. You’ll notice that some of our earlier videos look a little flat in terms of prop and people placement or have terrible lighting – now we know more about the practical technicalities of recording and have more experience post-production. For example, in our video “Everything Looks Better In Slow Motion”, we got a loan of a really expensive camera that could take 160 shots per second – that allowed us to produce apparently slow-motion but still really fluid-looking footage.

Of course, we’ve also started our own channel TreePotatoes. It was very difficult leaving Garena. For me especially, because it meant leaving a stable source of income. But I made the decision to follow Aaron (Djehuty) and Janice (Foxy) when they expressed the desire to start their own production channel. Though we don’t colloborate professionally anymore with the production team at Garena, we are still really good friends with them.

Who are some of the coolest people you’ve met on YouTube?

We got a chance to shoot with Wong Fu Productions, as part of an advertisement we did for Amore Fitness.

And?

Basically star-struck, you know. In spite of their fame, they are really really humble. They don’t act like movie stars. They just flew down here, we briefed them on the shoot, and then we shot the scenes. I think it’s a sort of camaraderie/mutual respect/work ethic that YouTubers all over the world share.

What about from the local scene?

We like working with TheMingThing, a Malaysian group fronted by Ho Ming Han.

Apart from interesting collaborations, what else can we expect from TreePotatoes?

We are definitely looking to do different types of videos. Of course we know our strength is in list-type videos. We are going to continue doing that. But we are looking to explore other genres, especially since our technical skills have strengthened. I’m actually working on a film project, something a little more artsy, that might come out later this year.

You are an arts student?

Yes, I’m an English Literature major going into my third year at NUS’ Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. I also love Philosophy. All my Unrestricted Electives are in Philosophy. I have a interest-only policy when it comes to choosing classes. I really do avoid courses that I don’t think I would be a 100% committed to. If I’m not excited about a subject/topic/class, it’s very hard for me to work hard, especially when it comes to sustaining that diligence throughout the semester.

However, when I am committed to a class, I can be a real perfectionist. When submitting essays, I can write and re-write and re-write multiple times before submission – if only to get the phrasing of the words just right.

Favorite classes?

My interests lie in the Romantic Period of Literature, Post-Modernism and Science Fiction. [Writer’s Note: Sorry! The recording went off when Elliot said those classes, so I don’t have the exact course code numbers.]

Least favorite class?

Shakespeare. The style of the class just didn’t suit me. Not because of the lecturer or anything, but the style just didn’t suit me.

Any particular area of interest in your studies?

I’ve gotten really into science fiction. I’ve actually been considering using it as my thesis topic. I love reading, and I usually read science fiction. So it’s a natural fit.

What are you reading now?

I’m reading The Prestige by Christopher Priest.

The one that got turned into a movie with Christian Bale?

Yup! The book is always better! As with everything. And I’ve got: A Maze of Death by Philip K. Dick, Dark Benediction by Walter M. Miller, which is a series of short stories, Greybeard by Brian Aldiss and Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang by Kate Wilhelm on my bookshelf currently. See! So all science fiction. I’m always buying books, so I always have a few books lined up to read :))

Are you close to your cohort mates?

Yes! The Literature department is very small, so everybody knows everybody else right. Most of the times I’m hanging around my own personal friends, and they are the ones who keep me very grounded. Contrary to my online persona, I like solitude a lot. If I’m not alone doing my own stuff, I will lose my mind.

//Some quickfire questions on his team mates

Low down on Aaron.

He’s a slave-driver. Hahah. I mean that in a good way, or not. HAHAH. He won’t let us eat lunch until we finish a scene. So when we are in the middle of the scene we’ll be having lots of fun and then he will be like “Guys, we gotta finish this, otherwise we can’t have lunch!”

Foxy is an extremely popular character on the show. Give the guys some tips for getting into Janice’s good books.

Just be a good and kind person. Loving animals will give you bonus points.

Samantha Wong
Samantha is a Computer Science major at NUS's School of Computing. She splits her time between writing articles and not writing articles, though she does neither exclusively.