Chen forms film-making company here

Chen forms film-making company here

Award-winning Singapore film-maker Anthony Chen will be producing a slate of films in the coming year with his newly established company Giraffe Pictures.

First up is omnibus movie project Distance, which will star Taiwanese A-lister Chen Bo-lin, 31, in three different roles in a trio of films centred on the theme of distance.

At a press conference held at the ArtScience Museum yesterday, director Chen, 30, revealed that the three rising directors shooting the different segments will be China film-maker Xin Yukun, Singaporean director Tan Shijie and Thai film-maker Sivaroj Kongsakul.

Each part will deal with different aspects of distance - in love, friendship and family.

He says: "I'm taking a backseat from directing on this project, but even though I'm only acting as the executive producer, I am my usual control freak self so I'm still very much involved in the scripting process.

"I'm not the director but this is certainly a very collaborative effort with all the film-makers involved."

Xin, who was a nominee for Best New Director at last month's Golden Horse Awards for The Coffin In The Mountain (2014), says good-naturedly that he has already experienced quite a bit of Chen's well-known "control freak" nature.

The 30-year-old says in Mandarin: "I went to visit Anthony in London so that we could work on the script together. I went straight from the airport to his house and was holed up there for six days because we had so much to discuss. The only time I stepped out was for meals.

"By the end of the week, my hair was a mess and I looked terrible. Anthony told me, 'Must you really look this haggard?'

"And I told him, 'But you forced me to become like this'."

Xin adds with a chuckle that he has "learnt a lot in the process" and that such fervent discussion is the only way to "break new ground and get more ideas for the film project, even though I was not used to it at first".

Chen Bo-lin, listening in with a jokingly worried face, pipes up in Mandarin: "We haven't started shooting yet, so I guess I'll soon find out about that side of Anthony. So far, in initial discussions that we've had about the project, everything has been good."

Production is slated to begin next month and a theatrical release is aimed for the end of next year.

Other than Distance, Giraffe Pictures will also be producing K. Rajagopal's much-anticipated debut feature A Yellow Bird and director Kirsten Tan's film Popeye.

Chen will serve as executive producer on all of the projects coming out of Giraffe Pictures, which will be based in Singapore. As he lives permanently in London with his wife Rachel, his work partner, Huang Wenhong - who produced his acclaimed debut flick Ilo Ilo (2013) - will oversee operations here.

Chen says: "I'll still be very much involved though. I'll be Skype-ing a lot."

On why he set up the new company, he says: "Having experienced the struggles of a young film-maker while making my first feature, it has always been my intention to set up a home to support young visionary film-makers in the region.

"Asia is brimming with exciting filmmaking talent and we are hoping that Giraffe Pictures would provide the platform and opportunities for such emerging voices to be heard."

He certainly hopes that Distance will be a good avenue for its three directors to become more widely known across Asia and out of their countries.

"I've been meaning to do this project for quite some time and when it came down to picking the directors, I knew I needed some who were really talented and would have good ideas because it's important to me that this would be a quality film," he says.

"These three are all truly talented. I'm a big fan of their past work and they deserve to have their work seen. Already, from what we've worked on together so far on Distance, I am feeling good about the script's complexities."

Xin's debut feature, The Coffin In The Mountain, about how things spiral out of control when a young man accidentally kills a local thug, was also nominated for Best Original Screenplay at the Golden Horse awards.

It was screened at the Venice International Film Festival and Busan International Film Festival.

Home-grown director Tan, 33, is known for his shorts The Hole (2011) - which won Best Film, Best Director and Best Script at the Singapore Short Film Awards - as well as For Two (2009), which was screened at the Venice International Film Festival.

His latest short, Not Working Today, about a foreign worker seeking redress, is screening in competition at the Singapore International Film Festival. The awards event is held tonight.

Thai film-maker Sivaroj is feted for his debut feature Eternity (2010), which won the prestigious Tiger Award for best film at the Rotterdam Film Festival.

As for Chen, he will be directing his own feature film soon, possibly starting production in the middle of next year. He declined to give details, only saying that it would be an English-language film with English and American actors.

"I'm itching to make more movies," he says.

This article was first published on Dec 13, 2014.
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