Zhu Houren relieved to see '10-year' dream finally come to life

31 May 2013 / 3 years 4 months ago

It was a “baby‘ that was 10 years in the making. After being hit by several obstacles through the years, veteran home-grown actor Zhu Houren is relieved he can finally see his movie come to fruition.Last Monday, the 58-year-old announced details of his movie, Meeting The Giant, at a press conference at Grand Copthorne Waterfront, reported My PaperZhu, the executive director of production house G&J Creation, conceived a basketball-themed film a decade ago after interacting with a teenage Chinese basketball team that came to Singapore.He saw how they struggled at being professional players in a foreign land, and felt moved by it. So he wanted to make a movie out of it, but attempts to secure investors were futile.“I had a heart-bypass operation back then, so luckily all my arteries were new. If not, I would have had a heart attack,‘ he joked in Mandarin.Last year, he managed to garner a $20,000 grant from the Media Development Authority and got the support of local company Clover Films and China’s Stellar Megamedia.Actor Tay Ping Hui, 42, signed on to the film as the director ‘“ marking his directorial debut ‘“ while former radio DJ-turned-host and director Danny Yeo is penning the script. The rest is history.The film focuses on the interaction between a Singapore basketball team, and their imported China teammates, and how these players integrate into Singapore and foster friendships.It is banking on a completely fresh cast. Zhu and Tay are searching for basketballers who are aspiring actors to audition for roles (see sidebar). Filming starts on July 20.Tay said he loved the idea of a basketball film because he played the sport himself. He also likes it that the cast will be young. “Now that I’m older, I want to work with younger people. I enjoy interacting with them,‘ he said.“It took (Zhu) 10 years to get here, but it took me just 10 minutes to agree,‘ he said jokingly.Tay said that, while basketball is the theme, the main idea he hopes to bring across is the relationship between people and how they manoeuvre cultural differences.“We understand that it may be potentially sensitive, such as some of the integration issues we are discussing. But we are trying to keep it as non-political as possible,‘ he said.“This is a story about young kids, and, for them, it doesn’t matter what the political systems are. They just want to play ball,‘ he added.The movie aims to be the first Singapore-China production to be released theatrically in both countries next year. Zhu said he is seeking an unknown cast because he wants the audience to focus on the story, instead.“If we have to depend on famous names, it’s restrictive and a lot of things will be destroyed in the process,‘ he said. “We’ll need scenes with body doubles if the person we find can’t play. Or he will look too short among the other players.‘ Tay said the leads they choose have to be basketballers first, and actors second.“You can’t cheat on basketball. If you don’t know how to play, you don’t. And I don’t want to waste time on that, I want it to be authentic.‘He added that he will give acting lessons to his cast before filming.Asked if they are worried about comparisons to Jack Neo’s recent hit, Ah Boys To Men, Tay said their film is “in a totally different direction‘.“It’s not comedy-based, and I’m not going for a big-blockbuster feel. What I’d like for it to be is to feel like a small production, but with high value. That’s what I want to bring across.‘

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