Production Talk - "Hot!" by Karmour Koo

The concept of HOT! started the desire to create a new kind of aesthetics that breaks away from what is prevalent in local cinema. Together with the film's DP AMIN and Art Director Mattina Zheng, we created a falsified universe that is centered around the sensationalism of a single incident.

HOT! tells a story about 3 individuals and how they deal with the incident in their own ways, within a setting of pretense and superficiality. The story purposefully presents fragments of the event via different perspectives and also posing various questions which we hope our audience would consider. After all, any event can be a sensation and what bothers you might not bother others.

What's behind the idea for Hot!?

The idea for the story really came about from observations on how people react to local news. When something happens, the reports turn up in the headlines. The reports can go on for days but there always comes a point when the reports start to report trivial matters that has no relevance whatsoever to the original incident. The best examples were those that has something to do with lottery numbers. So I ask myself, does people really care? Are the reports serving any purpose? The more I think about it, the more it feels like just a media sensation created for mass consumption.

What are you trying to achieve in making this film?

The film really stands as an experiment, where the experience of the film started when you first heard the title or seen the poster to the very end when you are not very sure about what you have just seen. Making this film is my idea of creating this 'sensation' that would eventually establish varying relationships with individual viewers because everyone cares about some things and at the same time, remain apathetic to other things. If an audience reacted to HOT! as per how he/she would react to other narrative/character driven film, then HOT! would have failed.

It is a different film from the rest, and daring in a way that it braves some potential criticism. Is this film an experiment? What's your point in all the brawn and skin?

The entire aesthetics of HOT! does spell out, in some ways, how I feel and what I observe about living here. The skin factor is really my way of heightening the element of pretense and superficiality in the film. The flashiness of the bodies and sexuality are also means by which the film delivers its meaning.

The film has very striking visuals especially the 'tableau' of people crowding round the dead body. Can you share more about the kind of visual quality you are trying to create in Hot!?

HOT! references heavily from D&G print ads and films like Boogie Nights, Bad Education and Kylie Minogue's Slow music video. The production team wanted a clean and finished look in the film that is deliberately planned and intended. Shots like the tableau by the pool and some other similar shots in the film are also made to look extremely choreographed and fake. Bearing these in mind, the production team created these images that our DP AMIN would later come to call the 'Best Denki' look.

Do share with us your process of putting together the cast for Hot! I mean, Abercrombie and Fitch probably spends $$ hiring models to parade topless but you had MANY. Was it costly hiring these model types?

HOT! is self financed, which means that I definitely did not have that kind of money to hire models to strut around on set. The three lead roles were my main concern when we started looking around for casts because they had to look good and can act. So during the auditions, I looked out for potential actors who could fill in the three lead roles. Everyone else who answered our casting call would also be subsequently be considered to be the extras on set. Eventually, almost everyone on set were friends.

And the truth is that there weren't that many people on set. I would think that its the DP who did a great job.
Any interesting or raunchy things happened during the shoot?

Surprisingly, nothing much. I expected cat fights but we were constantly rushing for time so I guess no one had time for that. Most shots required everyone on set to be in it and therefore no one was idle most of the time.

I guess the best thing was that our predicted 4-day shoot was completed in 2. The toilet scene, because of nudity and intimacy scenes, was closed to all except the DP, talents and myself. It was shot from midnight to 4 in the morning. Although the scene screams sleaze, the actors' faces were actually (internally) screaming 'Fatigue'.

Do catch the trailer over at!

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