Go down memory lane with Jack Neo
Writer: Erny Suzira
The full cast of "Long Long Time Ago"
To commemorate Singapore's 50th anniversary, renowned Singaporean director Jack Neo wants to present a film that tells the beginning of Singapore after its separation from Malaysia.
Titled "Long Long Time Ago", the director wishes that the film will bring Singaporeans as well as Malaysians back to the nostalgic era that they missed, especially those from the 60s and 70s.
The film stars Aileen Tan, Mark Lee, Wang Lei and Suhaimi Yusof, with guest appearances from the "Ah Boys to Men" series (also directed by Jack Neo), Wang Wei Liang and Tosh Zhang.
The film was mostly shot in Perak, Malaysia and during Cinema Online's set visit, the director went down memory lane and told us all about the shooting process.
Hi Jack! Tell us what this film is about.
We're shooting this for one to two months. Basically the film is about when Singapore starts to build an army in 1967, and a lot of adult men at that time have to join the army.
Jack Neo with Wang Wei Liang and Tosh Zhang.
Why did you decide to shoot this film in Perak?
Actually, I'm very excited to shoot this film. We have to shoot it here in Perak because honestly, Singapore doesn't have any villages anymore. So, we came to Malaysia and looked around. And then one of the people told me that Perak has a traditional-like kampong. So after coming here, I tried to search for a place that reminds me of my childhood.
Are you familiar with this place?
It's been so long since I came to Ipoh. I think it's been about 30 or 40 years. So when I went to the kampong, I noticed that the terrain and the tropical plants of Singapore and Malaysia are almost the same. The more I walked around, the more I felt nostalgic. Even the wooden houses that the old Chinese people used to live in are also all the same.
Jack Neo explains more on the movie.
How many shooting locations are there altogether?
There's Tanjong Tualang, Pusing, Taiping and Siputeh. At Siputeh, we found a room. The room is exactly like the kampong that I remember in my memory. However, the room is actually quite new, I feel that it's not old enough. But I do love the courtyard in front of the house. I feel that the space is big enough and that the neighbours are living across all corners is really similar to what I envisioned – it really looked like a Singaporean village back then.
I'm not only excited, I also feel touched. Because I miss my village so much, the days that I spent there was so fun. I believe that it's not only me; I think a lot of the other Singaporeans who lived in that era would also have the same nostalgia.
And I believed that by putting all these nostalgic elements like the scenes, the old classical songs, the traditional costumes and settings together, it will truly bring us back to the era that we cherished so much.
One of the film set took place at Tanjong Tualang.
So the film is only shot in Malaysia?
10 percent was shot in Singapore, and that was for the end when it shows the Singaporean government.
Since this is a period drama, was it hard finding all the natural resources and preparing the props and traditional costumes?
No. There are a lot of natural resources here. The Malaysian art department has done a good job with the old house designs despite not living in Singapore, because in Singapore, we have a material-gathering group who sent over the pictures of the old buildings to the art department.
So they did everything according to what have been given to them. So when everything was done, they would show us the amazing work that they did and we were surprised by the results. Even the costumes were great! Because I believe that when you're shooting a period film, costumes, props and scenes are very important!
The cast and crew dressed up in traditional costumes.
Is this film very political?
Cinema Online, 15 December 2015
No. I don't think I am ready to do a political film.
Since the film is set during the period when Singapore is separated from Malaysia, do you think that this film will create any controversial issues in Malaysia?
I don't think so. Because the film is actually about a Singaporean family and tells the story of how the Singaporeans grew up after the separation and the relationship among them.
Do you think that the film will appeal to Malaysians?
Definitely! I think those that lived in the 60s or 70s era would love this film, but of course the younger generation would learn to appreciate it as well. Also, Malaysians and Singaporeans have almost the same traditions!
"Long Long Time Ago" will be released on 8 February 2016 in Malaysia and on 4 February 2016 in Singapore.