Martin Chen (Chinese： 陳文良；pinyin：Chén Wén Liáng；born June 30, 1987) is an Indonesian-Chinese film director and contemporary artist based in Taiwan.
Chen was born in Jakarta and the family moved to West Borneo to trade. Grew from a wealthy family, parents have a cigarette wholesale business, motorcycle showroom, freight forwarding business and gold mining venture.
As a child, Chen has a comfortable childhood, he always gets what he wants, but the comfortable life was only until his high school years. His parent’s business bankrupt and their life changed completely!
Chen's plans to study abroad has ended, all the family’s wealth was sold to pay the debt and auctioned by the banks
“for me at the time, to study abroad is just a trend! No goals and dreams to be achieved! Here, I can go have fun and feel greater than other kids who do not study abroad.”
When it all changed, Chen found out who his true friends and family were. One by one, They stayed away from him and his family, because they were afraid Chen and his family would borrow money from them. Their days were passed with hardship, It's extremely painful to come home to people being in your house for one and one reason only; To collect debt and confiscate whatever goods they had left.
Chen told himself at that moment“I promised to myself, I had to change my life with educational pathways”.
His family decided to go to Taiwan and Chen spent three years in Indonesia to finish college before going to Taiwan, and in 2008 he completed his studies with Cum Laude.
Life in Taiwan
Chen learnt mandarin one year at Chinese Culture University before entering college. With a background in Computer Science Education, Chen was offered to study at National Taipei University of Technology.
Chen’s family wanted him to continue studying in the field of computers and they hope after graduation, Chen can work in the largest IT company such as TSMC, UMC, ASUS and others.
This was a hard time to decide on a choice for your future. Chen had a great academic score in the field of computers, but he didn't feel like working as a computer technician or a programmer. It is not a dream job for him.
While searching for what Chen wanted for the future, He got inspired by Ang Lee. Lee is the first director who Chen worships and National Taiwan University of Arts is a Lee’s alma mater. “I want to be a film director like Ang Lee!”
“I never know how to make film and what is film, I’m totally like a white paper in this field, but what I know is I love telling stories and I want tell stories to all people around the world and make a positive impact for this society.”
For Chen, following Ang Lee foot step was a part of his dream. In 2009 Chen was accepted at National Taiwan University of Arts, Department Radio and Television. It was a happy moment at the same time, confusing time for him. Because he picked the wrong department, “I should have picked the movie department”.
Chen’s lecturer suggested him to not immediately move to movie department, just try one semester and if he still doesn't like it then he can go ahead with the other major. and finally Chen decided to stay and tried to complete his major. While being in the second year in college, he faced a huge problem of communication using mandarin, because his mandarin was not fluent and he found it difficult to compete with classmates in which they should be able to express their opinion easier which will grant them higher chance to be a director in their film project.
“I was desperate and said to myself that maybe I am not fit to be a director. Maybe Cinematography or film editor might be a better fit for me”
When Chen lost his confidence in class, he got a chance as a director in Documentary class. Chen took the opportunity to prove whether he deserved to be a director. Taipei Metro Old Man was his first documentary and he won a 2010 The Best Student Documentary Film from Zeng Ming-Hui Professor.
The win gave Chen a confidence boost where he got more opportunities to direct more film projects such as a short story of Good Life (2010), Pieces of Life (2011) and some ads for film school.
Chen was working hard and by the end of the third years, Chen wanted to go to film production company as an intern director crew, but his professor Zeng Ming-Hui think that Taiwan’s cinema environment is currently very chaotic and is not suitable for him.
Zeng offered Chen to try applying as an intern videographer at CommonWealth Magazine, Taiwan, and Chen was accepted as the first intern videographer ever.
“I thought I would be an assistant reporter cameras, but they put me in their CW Foundation and give me the opportunity as a director to make a documentary for City Bank.”
'The Little Love For You and Me' is the first debut of Documentary Film for big company and this documentary became 2013 Official Selection Taipei Cinema Park Red House. This documentary put Chen in a spotlight, earned him a recognition by his peers and he began to be known as a documentary film director.
Life After Graduation
One month before graduation, Chen was offered in several companies to become a director with a very good payroll, but Chen was not interested in the offers, because Chen knows what he wants. Becoming acclaimed film director is his dreams. In 2013, Chen decided to join a Modern Cinema as their film director team to pursue his dream.
Besides working as a film director, Chen is also a radio broadcaster at TBC Radio Station 106.9FM for Indonesian language program since 2009. Not only that, Chen also started a Cam Car business “ TM Plus Company” together with his high school best friend “Twendy Gowijaya” in Indonesia in 2013. At the same time Chen began producing his first feature documentary “THE MACHINE” that will be finished on post-production in 2017.
Chen is full of confidence for his own future, Chen said "The truth about this industry is that not many people are able to share what they really want to say". I take inspiration and experience from my job and my job has taught me how to see the world from another point of view. My life is about growing and getting better each day. Becoming a film director is the greatest job in my life and I’m very good at it.