It’s a secret that people would die to uncover—and that some would kill to keep hidden. Ladies and gentlemen, I-S Magazine presents to you, at long last, the film (or at least, the script of the film) that “they” didn’t want you to see. Caution: The situations presented within this article are wholly fictitious and entirely invented. Any resemblance between this and a produceable film script is purely coincidental.
Setting: A back-alley in Geylang. We find young filmmaker Sun Koh running like mad, being chased down by the Singaporean filmmakers’ version of the boogeyman—a short, shadowy woman in a dirty brown robe, holding a giant pair of scissors. They call her… The Scissor Sister.
Sun: Eh, please leh! I just want to make The Great Singapore Film! (Sun suddenly reaches a dead-end, turns, and is confronted by The Scissor Sister.)
The Scissor Sister: Cannot. We told you already, hor. Your movie… (The Scissor Sister lifts up her weapon and thrusts it deep into Sun’s heart.)
The Scissor Sister: … not suitable for Singaporean audiences.
An Asia City Production
Of a Terry Ong and Wayne Ree film
The Da Cine Code
(Not based on any best-selling controversial novel)
Starring (in no particular order)
Jack Neo as, errr, “Jack Neo”
Setting: A local coffee shop. We pan in on Eric Khoo, about to dig into his mee pok. Suddenly his phone rings (with the theme from Be with Me (as the ringtone). Eric looks at his phone, which shows that it’s Royston Tan calling. He sighs and answers the call.
Eric: Hello, Royston. (Pause) You’re kidding? (Another pause, with an annoyed look on his face) No budget? (Another pause, then a look of resignation) Oh, alright. I’ll be there in a while.
(He hangs up, sighs again, then stands up and walks off, abandoning his untouched mee pok.)
Eric (Mutters to himself): Bloody nonsense. I’m not even supposed to be there today.
Setting: A big gang fight is taking place; blood and violence everywhere. The camera follows a stray blade flying through the air only to impale itself on…Eric Khoo, who looks up nonchalantly from his kopi, as the plastic knife bounces off his body.
Ah Beng #1: Eh, I think you just killed our producer leh.
Ah Beng #2: Wah liao. That means I must go back to selling VCD, meh? I kena caught five times already lor and all my x-rated films confiscated already!
Eric: Royston, I know you want to bleed me dry, but I didn’t think you meant literally.
(From off-camera) Royston: Aiyoh. Cut!
Eric (under his breath, as Royston walks on-screen): What is it with you and using real ah bengs anyway?
Royston (as the ah bengs simultaneously light up their cigarettes and walk off camera): They’re the best people to portray ah bengs, mah.
Eric: As your producer, I feel it is my duty to inform you of this pool of people that we directors normally turn to to play parts in our films. I’m sure you might’ve heard of them—they’re called actors.
Royston: Wah, somebody si beh (very) sarcastic today. Never finish your mee pok, right?
(Eric is about to retort, but stays silent and sips his kopi)
Royston: I know what actors are, Eric. But let’s face it lor: For an aspiring filmmaker, which, yes, I still do fancy myself to be, that pool is a rather limited one. Wah liao, even if I had access to all these actors, they’re only good if I wanted to portray people who speak with local accents that sound like ang mohs pretending to speak with a proper local accent. And most of them are in stage plays anyways, so they’re all practically the same people! Si peh boring, la!
(Eric stops sipping his kopi and looks perplexed)
Royston: And by the way, how many times can someone rely on Mark Lee to play the only convincing-sounding English-speaking Singaporean?
(Eric thinks for a bit)
Eric: Ahhh. Fair point.
Setting: We find Kelvin Tong working on his bike, while listening to “One-To-One” (theme from his previous film Eating Air) by Tan Ah Luck and The Suns, formerly known as The Boredphucks (that’s pronounced “Bored-Pucks,” mind you). He receives an SMS and has a worried look on his face. Quickly, he jumps on his bike and races off to…
Setting: Another young filmmaker—this time Merwyn Tzang—setting up the sound stage for his next film: A twisted, highly sexual version of The Wizard of Oz, after his last sexy take on The Little Red Riding Hood, called A Wicked Tale. Suddenly, from a dark corner of the sound stage, Tzang hears a very familiar sounding voice.
The Scissor Sister (off-screen): Tzang…we warned you. This kind of film has sex and violence. Very bad portrayal of Singaporean society.
Tzang: Oh, no! Look, I don’t care! I’m going to get it out there. You can’t stop me! Singapore deserves to have The Great Singapore Film. It…urk!
(The camera pans out, to show The Scissor Sister behind Tzang, impaling him with her weapon.)
Setting: A nearby void deck, where Eric Khoo leans coolly against a wall and Royston squats down and lights a cigarette.
Eric: But I’m sure you didn’t call me down here to debate the benefits of farming ex-pirated VCD salesmen, did you?
Royston: No, I called you out here for this…
(Royston lifts up a paper and shows to Eric the front-page headlines of
I-S Magazine, which reads “Jack Neo To Do Movie About Ah Beng Savior: Expected To Make Plenty of Money”)
Royston: Si mi tai chee “and?!” My movie is called The Passion of Ah Boy, and it’s about the rise of Singapore’s true ah beng savior!
Royston: Yeah, and seeing as how this is a Raintree Pictures production, their budget will be one kind of happening. Meaning my film is going to look like some poly project next to it, lor. Not to say they’re necessarily good, though…
Eric: Yeah. Hence…your problem with the budget, I take it…
Royston: Very clever.
Eric: Well, not to boast or anything, but you’re damn lucky you have my backing to begin with, lor. I do my best to fund as many aspiring filmmakers as I can, but it’s not like I’m bloody rich.
Royston: I know, I know. (Thinks to himself: “Yeah, right!”). I suppose I could turn to MDA, but their guidelines one kind of jia lat (strict). And really, loh, it’s probably a huge turn-off for every aspiring filmmaker out there to turn to the government for backing. Good intentions or no, it just doesn’t feel right. What we really need is a non-governmental body helping out filmmakers. Like a film support group, mah.
Eric: Well, that’s the reality of the industry. It’s either the MDA or you better be rich man’s son.
(Suddenly, both directors turn their attention to the sound of a bike roaring into the carpark. Jumping off the bike like some kind of daredevil, Kelvin Tong lands expertly in front of Eric and Royston.)
Eric: Kelvin! What exactly was the point of those theatrics?
Kelvin: Hey, man. It’s been talking through most of this script so far. Thought it needed some cool Matrix-style action.
Royston: I’m presuming there’s a reason for you showing up, besides showing off?
Kelvin: There is. You got a problem, Royston.
Royston: I know. My budget!
Kelvin: Not just that, man. Last night, Sun Koh, the third aspiring filmmaker in a row, was murdered…by what seemed like a pair of giant scissors.
Eric: Oh, no. Not…her.
Kelvin: Yeah. The Scissor Sister—very scary one. I also got word a little while ago that she’s already claimed her fourth victim: Tzang. And now, she’s gunning for Royston.
Royston: How do you know?
Kelvin: Well, written in the Tzang’s blood at the scene of the crime was the message “I’m gunning for Royston Tan.”
Royston: Eh, not very secretive code, leh. Gunning some more…
Kelvin: Well, it’s not like she’s Dan Brown or anything.
Roytson: Wah liao. All this plus the budget constraints. Damn suay, man.
Kelvin: What happened with the budget?
Royston: Jack Neo’s making another film just like mine.
Kelvin: Man, can you believe this? I mean, is the well really that dry these days? Is there really only so few good Singaporean stories left to tell that we’ve resorted to cannibalizing each other? I mean, honestly, if it isn’t a story about ah bengs, it’s a story about the school system, or the job market, or… well, whatever the hell it is that taxi drivers are complaining about now. It’s like there’s only so few issues in Singapore that filmmakers seem to want to cover. The stories are just becoming so bloody boring.
Eric: It’s not like we have a choice. I mean, everyone wants to do something groundbreaking and controversial, but they’re all worried about getting the cut.
Kelvin: Being circumcised?
Royston: Eh, I think you been eating a little too much air, brudder. He’s talking about censorship.
Royston: You remember what happened to the guy who did that film about Chee Soon Juan, right? Kana investigated all. That’s a worse case scenario, sure, but it just goes to remind filmmakers out there that censorship is still a problem when it comes to making movies. (Throws his hands into the air) Aiyah! All I was hoping for was that this would be my masterpiece; that I’d have finally lived my lifelong dream of making The Great Singapore Film. But all of this is just ruining everything!
Kelvin: No wonder she’s coming for you, lah. You know the legend. Anyone with the balls to attempt such a film will only end up her next victim. She only goes after people with the ridiculous ambition to try and make The Great Singapore Film.
Eric: Then there’s only one thing left to do. We’ve got to get to Jack Neo. We’ve got to talk to him about somehow reaching an understanding. The only way to stop The Scissor Sister is to get Royston’s film made!
Kelvin: Alright. Hop on my bike. I’ll get you guys to the Raintree Pictures headquarters.
Eric: Both of us?
Kelvin: Eh, man. I directed Eating Air. I know how to handle a bike.
Setting: An office in the Raintree Pictures building. Jack Neo sits in a pile of cash, counting his money, laughing to himself maniacally. A knock on the door, then Royston, Kelvin and Eric walk in.
Royston: Hey, Jack, I…
Jack: Shh! (Then looking very intently at his pile of cash) I checking to see if my money got enough or not…
Eric: Um, Jack, we’re quite certain that…
Jack: Eh! I not stupid, ok? (Suddenly turns very sweet) So, what can I do for you boys?
Royston: Well, Jack. You see the thing is that I’m actually making a movie about an ah beng savior at the moment and, well, your film, with its budget and all, would probably kill mine. But, I’m sure your movie must be as dear to you as mine is me, but…
Jack: Dear? No lah. I don’t really care about it.
Royston: Oh. Well, in that case, you wouldn’t mind if we co-directed or…
Jack: Nonsense. I’m not sharing any of the spotlight with you.
Royston: But, uh, Jack…we’re sure there’s room for more than just films by Raintree Pictures in Singapore.
Jack: You siao, is it? Of course, there’s no room for anything other than Raintree Pictures in Singapore. We pave the way for your little independent films, which work great for your film festivals or what have you. But let’s face it: Singaporeans only want what Raintree has to offer—nothing but films that appeal mostly to heartlanders. They’re not going to bother with your films as long as the average ah pek wants to check out the sequel to Liang Po Po, right? (Pauses for a moment) Actually, no, that really is quite sad for you guys and I take it back, I really would like to help you guys with…
(Suddenly, The Scissor Sister bursts through the door of the office with an even bigger pair of scissors in tow).
The Scissor Sister: No! I was the one who slipped the script about the ah beng savior to Jack Neo. It was supposed to put Royston and him at loggerheads! And with all the killings thrown into the mix, it would’ve almost certainly assured that The Great Singapore Film would never get made! Hahahahahahahaha! (Laughs hysterically) The last thing I wanted was an understanding between the mainstream films and the fringe movies!
Jack: Wah. Damn elaborate sabo, man.
Eric: It’s alright, Jack. I knew that if we somehow reached an understanding, she’d show up. I had a hunch that this sort of mutual partnership would make The Great Singapore Film a stronger possibility and definitely lure The Scissor Sister out of hiding for this confrontation—I planned it all along. So, I called a friend to help us out.
(Suddenly, Cleopatra Wong crashes through the office window, a sword in hand, and gives a flying kick to The Scissor Sister).
Eric: The one thing The Scissor Sister didn’t count on was the strength of the local film industry’s past—and how instead of overshadowing our current achievements, it’d only work to our advantage. Well, that and Cleopatra just loves kicking ass.
(Cleopatra and The Scissor Sister battle it out in an elaborate fight, till the two of them are exhausted.)
Kelvin: It’s no use, guys. The Scissor Sister isn’t going away. If The Great Singapore Film is to be made, it’ll still have to be with her blessings.
The Scissor Sister: That..! Well… actually that seems alright to me. (Thinks for a while) I mean, that’s all we worry about—that in making The Great Singapore Film, you wouldn’t be working in the interests of the Singaporean public. But, as long as you all keep it real, make films with themes that are close to your hearts, but at the same time not pretentious…err, I not naming names ah—you go figure out yourself, then sure can make it one. Really, really. But must also keep to MDA’s rules and guidelines also lah, aiyoh!
Royston: Hah!? Like that only hah? You sure or not?
Jack: And if you’re willing to relax the rules a little bit…
The Scissor Sister: Can, can—aiya as long as you and your other filmmakers don’t come and cucuk (rub) us the wrong the way—and doing it for the sake of doing it—sure no problem one. I say: Stop making those heavy-handed films that barely have any dialogue and too much posturing, or another lame horror movie, or another one about how Singaporeans hate to stay in HDBs—we geddit! We geddit! Now get on with the program already! How about trying some romantic comedies, a film about wedding parties, a police movie with a real plot, whatever lah! Just something different!
Kelvin: Ladies and gentlemen, I think we’ve finally on to something here…
New generation of directors
What’s new in the Singapore Film Industry