SINGAPORE – Veteran Hong Kong-based director and producer Fruit Chan is all for entertainment in independent films.

“We need to strike a balance between serious themes and commercial elements,” he said as part of a masterclass delivered Saturday at the 27th Singapore International Film Festival. “My films are quite entertaining.”

Chan had little formal training and learned his craft through hands-on experience in a decade spent assisting mainstream filmmakers. “I am very unique, because when I started during the Chinese new wave, the industry was booming. I needed to survive, so I worked on commercial films,” Chan said.

Chan revealed that another of his early jobs in the industry was as a cinema projectionist. “Every day there would be seven or eight screenings of the same movie. That’s when I learnt to critique and see what works and what doesn’t.”

Unlike filmmakers who are engrossed in their own work, Chan is an avid watcher of other filmmakers’ output. The annual Hong Kong International Film Festival is a highlight of his film-viewing calendar.

Chan also stressed the need to choose universal themes that have the potential to resonate the world over. His new film, “Shining Moment” will have its world premiere at the first edition of the Macau International Film Festival & Awards, next week. It follows a sidelined gymnast who finds a new lease of life as a Latin dance instructor and coaches a group of children to participate in a dance competition.

Social and political themes, and children and youth in society, are the most universal themes, according to Chan.

“Ultimately, there is no difference between commercial and independent cinema,” says Chan. “They still need to be successful.”