As a child, Associate Professor Dagomir Kaszlikowski enjoyed watching Hollywood movies with his father. The warm feeling of sharing a common preoccupation imbued him with the dream to one day make a motion picture.
During his high school days, the aspiring film-maker made his first short film about life in Gdansk, his hometown in Poland. However, his teacher did not take kindly to it, deeming it as going against the ideals of the then-communist regime. With his enthusiasm severely doused, the youngster turned his interest to science.
After becoming a physicist at the University of Gdansk, Associate Professor Kaszlikowski, also known as Dag, joined NUS in 2001. He became a founding Principal Investigator at the Centre for Quantum Technologies (CQT) at the University in 2007.
Now a Singaporean, Dag loves the vibrancy of Singapore and says it provides a colourful canvas for his inspiration in filming. “When I go out, I feel like I’m in a candy store – so many places and different behaviours. It’s like a kaleidoscope of emotions.”
Filming neo-noir “Lucky Luke” in Singapore
Even so, he admitted that film-making is an expensive hobby and his out-of-pocket shoestring budget is usually spent on paying the actors. He has to do everything himself – script writing, producing, directing, filming and post-production. He also acts in some of the films, thankful of the skills he picked up at the Haque Centre of Acting and Creativity in Singapore. All these activities happen after work – translating to little sleep and no rest on weekends.
Dag managed to roll out several science films with small grants from NUS and various organisations supporting science promotion. A 15-minute thriller Seeing Without Looking in 2014 that explained the complicated subject of quantum physics in a gripping manner snared a US$10,000 prize by US-based Foundational Questions Institute, which funds physics research.
The win spurred him to craft a short piece titled Ketetapan (Decision in Malay) that screened at festivals worldwide, including the prestigious Los Angeles International Short Film Festival. LA Shorts is accredited by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Academy Awards.
Dag’s most recent quantum-inspired feature movie Zeno Effect was selected for this year’s Krakow Film Festival, one of the world’s oldest prestigious film events.
I take film-making very seriously – it’s a form of art and expression of myself. My dream is to make avant garde movies that are personal, which I can experiment with.
Dag appreciates Asian and Middle Eastern movies, which he finds exotic and expressive in a non-verbal way. “There’re a lot of unspoken things and body language in humans, which are more interesting than the spoken ones.” He particularly admires Hong Kong director Wong Kar Wai’s classic films such as Fallen Angels. “He’s my favourite director – his nostalgic works are about humans and emotions.”
The ultimate success for Dag is to show his films on the big screen, affecting people and getting viewers to reflect on what he seeks to convey.