Director Anthony Chen’s anxiety-ridden first try at an English-language movie filmed in Europe

2 weeks ago 42

Updated

Apr 03, 2024, 03:00 PM

Published

Apr 03, 2024, 03:00 PM

SINGAPORE - Ask Singapore film-maker Anthony Chen what it was like to make his English-language feature film debut with a cast that includes the Oscar-nominated English actress-singer Cynthia Erivo, and he will remind you that Drift is a modestly budgeted movie which happens to have a big name in it.

“I wouldn’t use the words ‘Hollywood movie’. It’s not financed by a studio like Sony or Warner Bros. Just because it’s in English doesn’t mean you’re working on a big Marvel film,” says the 39-year-old over the phone from his home in Hong Kong.

Opening exclusively at The Projector on April 4, Drift might be a tiny project by Hollywood standards, but it still cost more to make than either of Chen’s award-winning Singapore-based films, Ilo Ilo (2013) and Wet Season (2019), he says.

He declined to reveal a specific figure for Drift’s budget.

Because of the comparatively higher wages of the crew and labour laws concerning allowable working hours, Chen says he had to curb his perfectionist tendencies while working on the film, which was shot mainly in Greece, in the region of Attica and on the island of Aegina.

When shooting Wet Season, for example, he once asked for 33 takes before he was satisfied.

On the set of Drift, the need to get everything done within the 30 days scheduled for filming made him uneasy. The film’s shooting ratio – the running time of raw footage divided by the running time of the finished film – left little margin for error.

“I was stress...

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