STOP10 Sep 2017: 'Single City' by Ray Pang

Set in the future, Single City is an island where single men and women are brought there to find love within a 90-day period of time. The end goal is to find a partner, get married and reproduce – a sure-fire way to solve the problem of our ageing population and the rise in isolation due to technology.

Four singles find their paths crossing on the island. Will they manage to be success stories of this City, or will they bear the inhumane consequences of failure?
Set in Singapore, this romance comedy may be cheesy upon first glance but serves to tell a heartfelt tale towards the end. Simple in concept and detailed in execution, it was a joy to just sit back and watch the story unfold before your eyes. As a film, it serves to touch and trigger deeper questions to be asked: What is dating about, or love? Is technology more of a bane or boon to human interactions?
Starring Mei Xin, Gen Neo, Haden Hee and Ezzan Lee, Single City, directed by Ray Pang, under Catharsis film, you can catch Single City today 1 September, 10pm on StarHub Hub E City Ch 111/825 or StarHub Go
Curious and interested to find out, SINdie interviews director Ray Pang on his first lengthy film of over an hour.

How did this concept for the movie come about?
The premise was originally came up by a Malaysian director, Felix. So when MM2 Entertainment approach Catharsis to co-produce it, I got Link Sng to write the screenplay. During development, we changed the concept and story along the way to fit the budget and limited resources.
How long did the entire process take - from conception to searching for cast to filming?
1 month of scripting, 1 month of Pre-Pro, 10 days of filming, 1 month of post.

Share with us how working with the cast is like, considering that they are pretty diverse in their professional experiences.
My goal is to bring the best out of them individually.  We have Meixin on one hand whose career is a full-time actress, she also used to be a singer. Haden and Ezann who are both acting part time, while Gen Neo have never acted before except appearing in his own music videos.

So, I have to guide them into the character that they are supposed to "behave".

If I had to treat them like horses:

As Meixin would be the most trained one, I usually show her the blocking and point out to her if she went too far or push her if she is lacking behind.

Haden is like a crazy horse, he needs to be tame and constantly be pulled back on course as he loves too much of improvisation that can be a pain for continuity and over-acting.

Ezann is like a classy horse, the image of her is a challenge for consistency and while conveying my thoughts for scene to this classy horse, I needed to talk emotions and not directions.

Gen is like a young small horse, smart and quick to learn only if given more time to let him observe and feel for the moment. For a first timer, he is hardworking enough to leave an impression on screen. There hardly can be perfection but potential to grow and be better.

For me, chemistry among actors themselves and with the director is very important. Trust is also equally crucial.

The usual table read and rehearsal helps. Director and actors needed to bond outside as professionals too in order to reach deep down into some emotional core and characterization / background research. Hence we only manage to go out as a group for dinner. We talked and share about relationship, random hobbies, likes and dislikes, etc.

Ray Pang, the man at the centre of it all 

What's your opinion about dating apps? Do you think they help with finding love?
Personally I feel dating apps work if both party are willing to be honest and ready to meet for the right reason.

Although I believe in love at first sight, I also feel that a "relationship" is about working towards knowing the unknown for each other. You need to work hard to find love, dating app is just a platform that allows you to make that effort to at least try.

Do you think Single City might help Singaporeans have a more active dating culture and well, increase the birth rate?

Yes certainly. Look at our grandparents, in the olden days, there are no gadgets or any form of automation, and since there are lesser distraction and more human interaction. Naturally we have more time to make babies.

Interview by Dawn Teo

For the full list of September 2017's 10 films under STOP10, click here.
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