Finding that 60s vibe

Finding that 60s vibe
PHOTO: MM2 Entertainment

The new local historical film 1965 has a star-studded ensemble cast that includes Qi Yuwu, Joanne Peh, Lim Kay Tong, James Seah, Sezairi Sezali, Deanna Yusoff and Mike Kasem.

But the $2.8 million production, on the lives of immigrants in Singapore in the years before independence, has another unsung star.

We're talking about the massive set in Batam - at various locations around the island and at Infinite Studios' soundstages - that boasts realistic props that will, in an instant, transport viewers back in time to the 1960s.

The production team took two months to build the set and another 35 days to film the movie.

The biggest set, that of Chinatown where many of the scenes were filmed, is about the size of one-and-a-half football fields.

Daniel Yun (above, right), 57, and Randy Ang (above, left), 36, the co-directors of 1965, tell M what went on behind the scenes at these key locations.


Yun: "The set brings me back to an era when I was a kid... In this photo, you can see that there is no billboard on top of the Oriental Theatre building and that is exactly what it was like in the past. "The roads were not pristine, they were dirty and wet, so our production team would wet the floors before filming began.

"Everywhere we walked, we could hear different sounds coming from different stalls - the sound of the news (bulletin being read in) Hakka over the radio, the sound of Teochew opera from another street... It brings out the feeling of an era when people lived in close quarters."


Ang: "This set is massive. The production crew would start setting up at 10am and we only got to shoot at 3pm. We had to direct every single person in this scene.

"In the morning, we bought all the fresh vegetables, fruits and fish from the market and transported them (here) to be used on the set.

"All the stalls and shops you see in the picture are fully set up, which means you could technically go shopping for real inside."


Ang: "You can see some of the dried cuttlefish hanging in front of the windows. The smell of the fish on set was overbearing. The words on the signboard are all hand-painted. It really gives you the feeling of being back in the 60s."

Yun: "The hair and make-up team put in a lot of effort as well. For example, we deliberately made Joanne's clothes looser in the movie as this was what people back in the day wore. They didn't wear tight-fitting outfits."


Yun: "(Local actor) Liang Tian (who plays Peh's father) used to run a coffee shop in Singapore in the 1960s. When he went on set and saw our coffee shop, he told us he felt like he was back at his old shop again. So that was like an acid test for us.

"We paid attention to a lot of details in the set-up, ranging from the old F&N posters on the wall to the Milkmaid condensed milk on the shelves. It was very fun."


This article was first published on July 29, 2015.
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