23 September 2006

Singapore Dreaming: Facts & Trivia

Yesterday, I went with Yao to SINGAPORE DREAMING: Big Dreams, Small Island, a seminar with Woo Yen Yen and Colin Goh, makers of Singapore Dreaming. The seminar was organised by USP, and I came to know about it through an email by my GEK2003 Government and Politics of Singapore tutor, Dr Kenneth Paul Tan. Attended by about sixty people, Yen Yen and Colin spoke on many issues with regards to the making of Singapore Dreaming, its performance at the local box office, and the local filmmaking industry.

It was an enlightening and thought-provoking exchange. It told me a lot of things I never knew... about filmmaking and the local movie audience, the richness of Singapore society and culture, as well as several interesting trivia. Here's some bits of information I found important or shocking, or both.

  • Singapore Dreaming made more than Perth, Be With Me, and 4:30 all combined, but still cannot break even. So far for all local movies, only Jack Neo can make a profit in the local box office.

  • The censorship board initially requested that the filmmakers dub all the Hokkien in the movie with Mandarin. To add insult to injury, it also said that the Hokkien can stay for foreign release.

  • Almost all the events in the movie are taken from real life stories the directors have heard. Perhaps I was a bit too quick in labelling the ending artificial.

  • Singapore, despite what some people may think, is one of the most expensive places in the world to make a movie. It's even higher than in New York.

  • For some reason, Singaporeans look down on local films. Little Man, for example, despite its universal poor reviews, earned many times more in its opening weekend than Singapore Dreaming, and was still in the top 10 local box office results last week. I'm not surprised though; after all, Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo topped the local box office when it was released. So much for the Singapore identity.

    Please, please, please, if you haven't, go watch the movie. It's almost certain it won't last past this week in the cinemas.

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