Production Talk - 'Red Numbers' directed by Dom Ow, produced by Alvin Soe

Here is a timely new local feature film - Red Numbers. If there is only one reason to watch it, it would be to catch good 4-digit numbers to buy Toto as the $10million grand sweep is coming! Who knows, you may get lucky watching the film! So what is Red Numbers about? Here's a brief synopsis:

How lucky are you, or are you not? That's the question Red Numbers asks. The story revolves around a guy who, according to a fengshui master, only has three lucky minutes in his miserable life. His fortune is wrapped up with a greedy family whose grandfather holds the key to the winning combination in the 4D lottery.

Featuring a rich ensemble of talent, from established TV stars to getai and theatre celebrities, Red Numbers takes a refreshing slant on the topic weaving Fengshui, superstition and wacky Asian family dynamics to produce a madcap comedy with a heavy dose of black humour.

We speak to director Dominic Ow and producer Alvin Soe to find out more about their debut feature film opening on 22 Feb.

SINdie: How did the production team come together? For a new director, you've got a solid team in place. Who pulled everyone together?

Alvin Soe (AS): Personally through past experiences, Dominic and I do already know some talents that are suitable. We received some recommendations from our personal networks, and coupled with some talent hunting, we managed to assemble a strong team comprising of industry veterans and new blood in various aspect of the production pipeline, such as technical, production design, make-up, etc. Our Executive Producer Mr. Chan Gin Kai had also recommended us several good networks to enhance our overall production team. SINdie: The topic of 4D numbers is not new in Singapore. How is this movie a fresh twist on the topic? (The trailer does look quite imaginative)

Dominic Ow (DO): The movie intertwines the quasi-science of fengshui with the 4D game of odds. Is it chance, or is it destiny? The movie tries to answer that question. And while the 4D topic is really a heartlands' subject, we've treated the movie with magical realism. So yes, it's set in contemporary Singapore but everything from the characters to the colours are kinda far out.

SINdie: Supernatural tales and fengshui master aside, the trailer does reveal some interesting twists around the topic of luck like Hong Hui Fang looking like a gypsy fortune teller. Can you share of the more interesting and less predictable ideas that you have injected into the film?

DO: I think one of the most interesting ideas we had was to cast a true blue PRC guy as one of the key characters. In a sense, that is a fair reflection of Singapore's population mix  today. And sure Singaporean Chinese and PRC Chinese are different but they both appreciate a game of chance.

SINdie: How did you raise money for the film? Who are your main investors? What were the biggest challenges in the funding phase of the movie?

AS: The financing structure has a mix of equity, debt and sponsorship. Our main investor are Chan Gin Kai who runs Silver Media Fund, Hui Master who is also a cast in 'Red Numbers', and Keith Toh Wei Chuan who is a successful entrepreneur. It is challenging when it comes to assembling the financing for movie projects. As Singaporeans isn't familiar with investing in media assets, it takes time to educate, explain and pitch a project to investors. And considering the fact that intellectual property is an intangible asset, many investors find it extremely risky to invest into something where there isn't a fixed asset to hold on as collateral, such as real estate, which they are familiar with. Hence it took us effort and time to educate the investors about the business opportunities of exploitation intellectual property. But thankfully, we managed to secure investors who trust the idea, and is willing to step in to fund the movie.

SINdie: How was it like working with a stellar cast with so many industry veterans?

AS: The scheduling was a nightmare for our line producer, production manager, assistant directors, assistant producers. They had a real hard time trying to schedule all the cast throughout the principal photography period. We are proud to say that all the cast had demonstrated great professionalism throughout the production. We really had a great time working with them. I would like to extend my deepest appreciation to Edmund Chen, Nick Shen, Eunice Olsen and Hui Master whom have lend a helping hand in securing sponsorships via their personal networks and turning 'Red Numbers' to a reality.

SINdie: There is an increasing trend of directors moving into a hybrid of horror and comedy. The Red Numbers trailer seems to be in the same vein. Can you explain your choice of style?

DO: I wouldn't call it horror. My vision was a black comedy and such is the genre that shades of grey are required. A tinge of supernatural can provide that. In general, you are right that there is a greater appreciation from audiences of dark humour. It's the times we live in - shades of irony everywhere if we care to look closely. 

SINdie: What were the greatest challenges making this movie?

DO: We always strove to make this a colourful ensemble piece with as many interesting characters as we could have concocted. The trade off is that not every character is given time to fulfill a clear arc. Finding that balance was a great challenge.

SINdie: What are best things the audience can look forward to in the movie?

DO: Definitely lots of lucky numbers and a complete fresh look at Singapore and its obsession with 4D. 

SINdie: After making the movie, what are some of the best 4D number combinations you would recommend our readers and why?

DO: You just have to see the movie to find our recommendations! 

Find out more about the movie at its website and Facebook page!

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