- One of the last few families in Singapore to be resettled, Tan and his family moved into a Housing and Development Board (HDB) flat when he was 10.
- Started out his career making short films and drew his influences from acclaimed Hong Kong director Wong Kar Wai.
- Caught the eye of Singaporean film director Eric Khoo, at a local film contest who took him under his company, Zhao Wei Films as an in-house director.
- His breakthrough film Sons (2000) was made using his own savings of S$3,000.
- Won the Silver Award at the 23rd Tokyo Film Festival, making him the first Singaporean to win an award at the festival.
- Has helped raise money for an old folks' home and The Business Times Budding Artists Fund, which supports the artistic pursuits of upcoming local artists.