Un-un-unbelievably fast: New movie Mr Unbelievable only took 15 days to shoot

1 October 2015 / 1 year 3 weeks ago

Jocelyn Lee 
The New Paper
Sep 29, 2015

Filming for Chen Tianwen's upcoming local movie Mr Unbelievable has wrapped - at an unbelievably speedy rate. 

It took the team only 15 days, making it possibly one of the fastest shoots for a feature film in recent years.

All so that the final product can be rushed out for its Dec 3 release.

Director Ong Kuo Sin told The New Paper at the Mandarin comedy's wrap party yesterday: "The filming was very precise and well-controlled. I did not need to have too long a script, so mine had about 79 pages. Usually, other scripts have 90 to 120 pages."

Slated to have a running time of between 90 and 120 minutes, Mr Unbelievable is the spin-off of local actor Chen's music video for his song Unbelievable, which went viral in April and attracted more than 3.2 million views on YouTube and Facebook.


The video saw Chen, 52, dressed in a retro 70s outfit complete with a wig and singing catchy but nonsensical lyrics such as: "You blossom like a flower, I so stunned like vegetable".

It was produced for the Channel 5 sitcom Spouse For House 2, in which Chen plays an Ah Beng.

In Mr Unbelievable, which cost around $1 million, Chen plays an 80s singer who incorporates English words into his Hokkien songs.

Ong, who's the director of Spouse For House 2, also attributed the efficiency to his close-knit team, veteran actors such as Chen, Liu Ling Ling and Marcus Chin, and minimal travelling time between locations, which included a kampung in Buangkok.

The 41-year-old, who also helmed the 2013 local movie Judgement Day, said: "I have the same team who worked on the music video with me, and we had the locations and talent locked down quite early.

Everyone was ready to shoot right away when filming started (in early September) and there was chemistry from the get-go. Discipline is the word."

On the tight filming schedule, Chen told TNP: "I was filming from 7.30am till 8pm daily for 15 days. It was very tiring. I became all tanned after a full-day outdoor shoot at the beach."

Castmate Roy Loi, 52, added: "(Mr Ong) was very well-prepared. He knew exactly what he wanted while filming, which was why it went very smoothly."

Local director Han Yew Kwang, 39, whose film Rubbers opened here in April, said that for a standard commercial 90-minute film with a budget of between $600,000 and $800,000, the number of days allocated to shoot is usually about 20 to 24 days.

He said: "Kuo Sin is very efficient as 15 days is considered quite fast. Usually for commercial films, quite a number of locations are involved so there is a lot of travelling. However, if the director works well with his team, it is achievable and workable."

By comparison, Royston Tan's $1.8 million movie 3688, which is now showing, took about a month to film.

Jack Neo's $3 million Ah Boys To Men 1 and 2 series took about 70 days, while his upcoming movie Long Long Time Ago, budgeted at $5 million, took 67 days.

Mr Ng Say Yong, managing director of mm2 Entertainment which is co-producing Mr Unbelievable, said: "This is a time-sensitive project as we are riding on the popularity and hype surrounding the Unbelievable MV.

"The mindset of everyone involved is to work at it hard and get it out.

"For the director, there was a lot of planning and pre-production work to be done beforehand. We also made the decision to have more than one camera on set, which increases the cost but shortens the filming process."

The 51-year-old added: "We also had veteran actors so we didn't have to spend a lot of time on set. Of course, the quality of the film has to be in place. The project has been very efficient but I must say that 15 days is not the norm."

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