We had a treat today – a guest lecture by Jack Neo and Boris Boo. The guest lecture was for a course in Digital Media Production. The main star was Jack Neo, of course, and although I wasn’t expecting to hear anything relevant to my work, or even directly relevant to the course, it was nevertheless an opportunity to meet and hear from a local celebrity and producer/directory of several successful movie productions.
Jack Neo is really funny in person, not just on TV or in the movies. I think as a comedian, he is naturally able to speak and engage his audience very well. Today, he primarily spoke about, and was asked about, his movie making experience, a little about the various technical and creative aspects of it, the roles of people involved in movie making, economics, investment, censorship, script writing, etc.
I get the sense that movie making works quite differently for Jack Neo than it does in Hollywood. In Hollywood, you start with a script. You find a producer/director. You find a cast to fill the character roles in the script. But with Jack Neo, he already works closely with some actors (e.g. Mark Lee, Henry) and script writers (Boris Boo). Instead of simply different people with different lives coming together with a business relationship, Jack Neo’s gang have some chemistry to work together. Hence, scripts are mutated along the way, some lines are simply spur-of-the-moment things added by the actors. It all makes for a good movie with a local flavour that we’re all familiar with.
We don’t have much of a movie industry in Singapore. Movie production is expensive, but the market here is not big enough. It’s even more difficult to compete on the international stage. It’s a good thing that Jack Neo’s company has been able to produce a series of local flavour movies.