Production Talk on Tiong Bahru

Let's go behind the scenes of Tiong Bahru through the eyes of Nooraini Shah and Wen Piao who have kindly shared their 2 cents' worth on the film.

How did you get involved in Tiong Bahru?
(Nooraini Shah): My film lecturer from Lasalle College of The Arts introduced me to the film. A year ago, I watched Joe & Christine's works screened at
Tiong Bahru Golden Village Theatre and during the Q&A session they announced that they will be embarking on a project in Singapore.
Thus, my journey in Tiong Bahru commenced.

(Wen Piao): Well i got involved with the Tiong Bahru project as i was an intern at Zhao Wei Films during the school holidays. Zhao Wei Films was a major collaborator on this project.

Anything memorable happened during the filming process?
(NS): I was the second Assistant Director and was responsible for the talents. Despite them being non professional actors they were very cooperative
and everyone were passionate about their part in the film. They would often share about how obliged they were to be a part of the story due to their
strong sense of belonging to Tiong Bahru. When two heart meets, and for this would be their heart and the film's, I think that is what made things memorable for them and for us.

(WP): Well aside from the weather acting up and it was raining constantly during the shoot, i was deeply impressed by the professionalism of one of the amateur actresses. She was between 80 - 90 years old and had a major role in the film. All her scenes were shot on the last day. In spite of her advanced age, she endured the entire 12 hour working day without taking much rest. During the shoot, she walked up and down and around the marketplace and hawker centre. My grandma is of a similar age but her knees give her problems and she needs her daily nap. I was deeply impressed.

How do you find the treatment of Tiong Bahru by the 2 filmmakers?
(NS): It was a fresh collaboration of ideas between fiction and non fiction that birthed a story about Tiong Bahru. On set, the filmmakers
sculptured unprofessional actors into actors. They were spontaneously lucrative in ideas, especially in escalating a scene of the script
to a higher pedestal. Their artistic reach to the film were commendable.

(WP): I found their vision of the civic life project provided great insight into life in Tiong Bahru. Although the market has been recently renovated, it still retains the charm of Old Tiong Bahru, which comes through into the film.

Does it portray the Tiong Bahru you've been familiar for all your life?
(NS): I am not in a large degree familiar to Tiong Bahru, however I am emotionally attached to the place due to my close
aunty who lived there for decades. Tiong Bahru may not be seen very much as a heritage venue due to the
shopping malls and new HDB buildings built. Despite so, the history lies within the people. And its these few
memories that are of heritage value more than mere buildings that could be replaced, and memory never do.

(WP): I've only been frequenting Tiong Bahru the past 5 years so i can't quite say i've been familiar with Tiong Bahru all my life, but its definitely an accurate portrayal.

Are you familiar with Tiong Bahru? What do you think the shoot missed out?
(NS): We were running round the clock on the last day of shoot, I'm sure Joe & Christine has got all the footages they needed.
However, I am certain if time permits, they be capture more cutaways and spend more time on dialogue scenes.
I would have loved more exterior shots too of the building for 'the shell is the content before the content itself'.

(WP): Yes i am familiar with Tiong Bahru. Personally speaking of course, it would have been nice to shoot and highlight more of Seng Poh Road, as well as the individual streets such as Eng Hoon Street or Seng Poh Lane. My favourite areas include Loo's hainanese curry rice and Wu Hu Aquarium which i often frequent! More locations would be Old Tiong Bahru Bak Kut Teh during lunch time or some of the cze char stalls where locals gather and frequent in the evening such as my all time favourite, Sum Cheah Kee, which unfortunately has been chased out by the main tenant. A hidden niche would have been the Chay Yan street, Yong Siak Street and Moh Guan Terrace area, which is very green and quiet.

Did they have some special personal takes or interpretation of Tiong Bahru of Singapore that you stuck with you?
(NS): They was a forest shot which was taken at the hawker centre and it was visually a breath of fresh breeze. The directors took very interesting shots given location and manipulates the space differently which fascinates me sometimes. It somehow shows Tiong Bahru differently than what i thought when i read the script.

(WP): None come to my mind.

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