It has been seven years since Royston Tan made a feature film.
And going back behind the camera for his new offering 3688 was quite the challenge, said the 38-year-old Singaporean film-maker, known for his successful musical movies 881 and 12 Lotus.
"I called (local director) Eric Khoo during the first week of filming, telling him that I'd forgotten how tough it is to make a movie!" he told M at The Fullerton Hotel Singapore yesterday.
"Eric just assured me that the feeling is normal and that I just have to get through the first week.
"Also, my stamina isn't as good as it used to be now that I'm older."
3688 is Tan's fifth feature film and will star several first-time actors such as local singer Joi Chua and rapper Shigga Shay.
Tan also enlisted the help of getai veteran Liu Lingling and retired singer Rahimah Rahim.
Chua plays the lead as Fei Fei, a parking attendant who dreams of becoming a singer like her namesake and idol Fong Fei-fei.
Tan, who is known for using numbers in his movie titles, said "3688 just popped into my head and it has a nice ring to it".
No doubt 4-D pundits will have a field day with those digits, he joked, adding that everyone should keep an eye out as "there are many auspicious numbers in the movie".
"Actually, all the numbers that were featured in my films were winning 4-D numbers," he added, laughing.
"Too bad we were always so busy filming or editing that we never bet on any."
Tan, who took a hiatus from film-making to spend time with his family, hopes to release 3688 in June next year, around Father's Day.
"I never ever told my father, who cooks for me every single day, that I love him.
"Somehow it's easier to make a film and dedicate (it) to him than tell him verbally,"
While he said he has no expectations of how 3688 will perform at the box office next year, he has high hopes that it will do well.
He credits the film's appeal to late Taiwanese singer Fong's evergreen songs, which serve as the foundation of the movie.
2015 will also see a bumper crop of local films such as Randy Ang's 1965, Kelvin Tong's The Faith Of Anna Waters and the SG50 omnibus film 7 Letters, which Tan is also involved in.
"Next year will be a big year for local films and that's both good and bad for us film-makers," said Tan.
"It's not good as it means we will probably get only about two weeks of screening time at the cinemas because of the competition.
"Yet, to have so many local directors releasing feature films is a good sign for the local film industry.
"A garden can't just have a flower. The more the merrier. We'll have to help each other by staggering our release dates."
Tan has also set his sights abroad, sharing that the Taiwan, China and Malaysia markets have already expressed interest in distributing 3688 and that it has been pre-booked by several international film festivals.
This article was first published on December 10, 2014.
Get The New Paper for more stories.