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Yip Wai Yee
Friday, Sep 26, 2014

Showbiz

Hollywood stars heat up local film

The Straits Times | Yip Wai Yee | Friday, Sep 26, 2014

Director Kelvin Tong with American actor Matthew Settle (above) filming The Faith Of Anna Waters in a warehouse in south-west Singapore.

As soon as director Kelvin Tong yells "Cut!", crew members run to switch on the standing air coolers that are otherwise too noisy during filming.

People immediately start making their way to stand in front of them as they furiously wipe the sweat off their faces - especially those who are not used to the local weather, such as American actor Matthew Settle. He is spotted splaying his arms wide in front of one in the hope of getting maximum air.

The heat is unbearable in the stuffy non-air-conditioned warehouse located in south-west Singapore, where Tong is filming a number of scenes for his upcoming horror movie The Faith Of Anna Waters.

Budgeted at US$5 million (S$6.3 million), the movie, executive-produced by Hollywood's Ruddy Morgan Organisation, is the first Singaporean-directed movie to be backed by Hollywood funding. The company is working with Tong's production house Boku Films, as well as Hong Kong's Sun Entertainment Culture, to produce the film.

Other than Settle, who is known for his roles in mini-series Band Of Brothers (2001) and TV drama Gossip Girl (2007-2012), the film stars Hollywood actress Elizabeth Rice of TV drama Mad Men (2007-2014) as the lead.

She plays a crime reporter who travels from Chicago to Singapore to investigate the strange circumstances surrounding the death of her sister Anna, who lived here. Working with her ex-husband Sam (Settle) to uncover the mystery, they are beset by a series of spooky events.

On the warehouse set, a section in the corner has been transformed to look like a dark and forgotten basement, filled with dusty articles of yore the likes of kerosene lamps, old glass bottles and a telescope. Settle, 45, is shooting a scene here where his character discovers this basement for the first time, curiously looking around the room - until he is startled by strange noises.

Tong, wearing headphones and watching intently through the director's monitor outside the room, appears to be very much involved as he jolts in his seat at the same time that his leading man jumps on the screen.

The director tells Life! between takes that filming, which started just over two weeks ago, has been "smooth sailing" so far. But he admits it has also been rather exhausting.

"Usually, I make films for about $1 million. So to make something that costs $5 million means that everything is five times as big and there will be five times more things to worry about.

"But that also means that I'm five times as excited to make this movie, so the pain for a director is all worth it," he says with a grin.

Settle and Rice appear to be enjoying themselves on the production too, boiling heat notwithstanding.

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