By Gerald Goh
Local film director Kelvin Tong's smartest investment to date is surprisingly not any of his many movies, but a humble Kindle e-book reader.
The 39-year-old told The New Paper: "I used to spend so much money on books. Up to about $1,000 in one go.
"E-books cost about half to two-thirds the price of a print book, which makes a lot of difference when you buy as many as I do.
"I use my Kindle all the time, except when I'm flying and the plane is taking off or landing."
He added: "I find a lot of inspiration for my movies from books.
"It's too easy to plagiarise ideas if you use films as your inspiration.
"With books, the challenge is to find ideas that translate well on the big screen."
Tong's latest Chinese New Year movie, Dance Dance Dragon, which has a production budget of $1.2 million, was very different to make from last year's period film, It's A Great Great World, which he recalled had a production budget of $1.5 to $1.8 million.
Dance Dance Dragon, which he produced, is directed by local film-maker Kat Goh.
The film opens here on Jan 19.
It stars Adrian Pang, Dennis Chew and Kym Ng.
Tong said: "For It's A Great Great World, most of the money was spent on the backdrops, costumes and other props.
"For Dance Dance Dragon, the bulk of the film's cost, which amounted to about 40 per cent (of the budget), went towards hiring the cast and crew."
He counts himself as "very privileged" in not having to hunt high and low for funding for his movies.
He said: "I'm very lucky that my career mirrored the growth of the local film industry in recent years.
"After (2005 horror flick) The Maid came out, the three main studios in Singapore (Raintree Pictures, Scorpio East Entertainment and Innoform Media Singapore) were very forthcoming with funding when I approached them.
"A lot of local film-makers face a hard time cobbling together enough funding, which is very regrettable.
"My life is film-making, though it can be a horrendous mistress at times because it demands so much of your time!"
Tong revealed that local directors generally earn their fees in one of two ways.
He said: "The first way is to receive your entire fee upfront.
"The local studios overwhelmingly follow this model.
"Even if it's more financially risky (to do so), they prefer to do this because it's easier for them to discharge their financial obligations all at once."