Twilight star shot film here

From left to right: producers Ann Ruark and Michael Pruss.

Over the last few weeks, apart from the Formula One night race, people in Singapore have also been caught up in another glamorous sport - celebrity- spotting.

Hollywood stars Kristen Stewart and Nicholas Hoult, both 24, have been in town for the past month or so to film the sci-fi romance Equals directed by Drake Doremus (Like Crazy, 2011).

Stewart is best known for starring in the vampire-romance series Twilight, while Hoult recently played a zombie in romantic comedy Warm Bodies (2013).

They were seen filming at a Keppel Bay condominium, unwinding at Sentosa on the zipline and luge, hitting nightspots such as Loof and popping into a 7-Eleven store.

While the stars were not doing any current press interviews, Life! caught up with the film's producers Michael Pruss (Breathe In, 2013) and Ann Ruark (The Beaver, 2011) at Infinite Studios.

As it was a closed set, the meeting took place at a cafe located on the premises.

Pruss, 34, says he would have preferred to keep the shoot tightly under wraps as they want to "keep a mystery to the film". He adds: "In my absolute naivety, I attempted first of all to really regulate social media - we were monitoring it very closely."

But when they shot at upscale condominium Reflections at Keppel Bay, people were taking photos from the 65th floor and posting them on Twitter and Instagram.

Pruss says: "After the first few pictures, I was a little bit annoyed and now I'm just (shrugs shoulders), you know what, it's good publicity for us, I guess. With Nicholas and Kristen, we have big film stars and I understand the curiosity factor and I hope people will love the film."

Equals is slated to be released here towards the end of next year by Shaw.

Before coming to Singapore, the production team had spent about a month in Japan.

Filming here has just wrapped and the movie will be going into post-production.

Pruss says: "I think that Kristen may be a little bit better known here than in Japan because there seems to be slightly more fervour for her here."

And the stars have been taking the attention in their stride.

Pruss adds: "They've always got time for everyone, they sign everything, they do every picture. And they feel lucky to be here making this movie."

When the production team began scouting for locations, they came to Asia.

Ruark, 48, says: "When we first thought of where the movie would be filmed, we quickly came to the conclusion that we wanted it to be a location where we could find architecture and exteriors that felt different from our current experience."

She prefers not to divulge too much about the exact shooting locales and adds: "Hopefully, part of the audience's experience in the movie is to try to figure out where the movie was shot.

"It will be interesting for Singaporeans when they see the film because it's not what people will necessarily think of, the tourist spots. It's a more future feeling."

The cultural uniqueness of Singapore was another draw.

She says: "Singapore is such an interesting, multi-racial country with the Chinese and Malays, and with a strong European presence. That kind of diversity was very attractive because we thought it was reflective of a future society."

The production team was also enticed here by the Media Development Authority's Production Assistance grant scheme, which supports up to 40 per cent of a project's total expenditure spent in Singapore or on Singaporeans and permanent residents. Ruark says it also helped that they found "good production partners" here, namely Infinite Studios.

Other advantages of Singapore as a filming location include its "world-class infrastructure and efficiency", says Pruss. He adds that their 150-strong crew includes more than 10 different nationalities from across Asia.

He believes Singapore "absolutely, 100 per cent" has the potential to be a filming destination.

As to what could be improved, he says: "It just comes with experience and quantity, and you become wiser and gain more knowledge with every film you make."

bchan@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Sept 27, 2014.
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