The New Paper
May 16, 2016
Singapore is a backdrop in yet another Hollywood film.
This time, it is the upcoming sci-fi romance Equals starring English actor Nicholas Hoult and US actress Kristen Stewart.
Miss Suzy Yeo, a Singaporean who served as the local Line Producer for the Drake Doremus-directed film, which opens here on May 26, spent 27 days with the leads when they were in town two years ago to shoot a portion of Equals.
The veteran location scout, who is in her 40s, was impressed by Hoult and Stewart's professionalism.
Miss Yeo said the shoot was tough because it was during the hot season. The film-makers chose Singapore for its lush greenery, so most of the scenes were shot outdoors, at Marina Barrage, Singapore Botanic Gardens and Henderson Waves at Southern Ridges.
She added that local regulations did not allow the production crew to set up mobile tentages, which meant the actors sometimes did not have proper rest areas.
Miss Yeo told The New Paper: "The weather was horrific and the actors were wearing such thick clothes yet they never complained one bit. They remained positive and their attitude really earned my respect."
Equals is set in a futuristic utopia, where emotions have been genetically suppressed in an effort to protect society from war and strife.
Silas (Hoult) and Nila (Stewart) find their emotions awakened and they are drawn to each other, but their connection becomes a threat to their community and the only way for the star-crossed lovers to remain together is to escape the only world they know.
Miss Yeo also served as location scout for last year's action thriller Hitman: Agent 47, which was also filmed in Singapore, and she said both projects were very different.
Hitman: Agent 47, starring Rupert Friend and Zachary Quinto, showcased Singapore landmarks such as Marina Bay Sands, Gardens By The Bay and Shenton Way.
Miss Yeo said Equals' producer Ann Ruark specifically did not want any recognisable locations as "it is set in a world that does not exist".
"My brief was to find locations that are clean, have a Zen-like palette and are futuristic-looking," she said.
Miss Yeo said Miss Ruark approved all her suggested venues except for Gardens By The Bay, which the latter felt was "too sterile".
And thanks to her experience working on Hitman: Agent 47, Miss Yeo said getting approval from local authorities for the team to shoot on location was much easier.
"The people at Marina Barrage were very supportive and Keppel Land helped us facilitate the filming at the Reflections at Keppel Bay condominium," she said.
Singapore Botanic Gardens took more time because the filming schedule coincided with the period it was being assessed by the International Council On Monuments And Sites in the bid to have the park become a Unesco World Heritage Site.
"We had to work on the dates, but everything turned out well," said Miss Yeo.
She has no airs, he's friendly to everyone'
He's a dream guy while she's unassuming and sweet.
That's how Miss Suzy Yeo (on the right with Ann Ruark in the photo below) described the stars of Equals, Nicholas Hoult and Kristen Stewart, both 26. She told The New Paper that Stewart was "friendly and fun", unlike how the press usually depicts her as aloof and unsociable.
"She had no airs and was very casual. This girl was full of energy," said Miss Yeo, adding that Stewart was constantly skating on the sets.
"She brought her own skateboard with her. She's so cool." As for Hoult, Miss Yeo said the handsome heart-throb was "the sunshine on set". "He's always so friendly to everyone, even the local actors.
"I remember there was one day when a six-year-old boy came to the set to see Nicholas, as he was a big fan, having watched Nicholas (as the titular character) in (the 2013 fantasy flick) Jack The Giant Slayer.
"But when Nicholas went to greet him, the boy angrily told him that he was not Jack and started to cry."
Miss Yeo said Hoult patiently calmed the upset child and played iPad games with him.
"That moment was so real and humbling. I never would have expected a star to behave that way," said Miss Yeo.
During the production, there were rumours that Hoult and Stewart were an item. This came about after fans photographed them on dinner dates together here and in Tokyo, where a large portion of Equals was shot.
Miss Yeo admitted she did her own "investigations" upon hearing the gossip, but clarified there was no real-life romance.
"They are good friends on- and off-set. That was about it."
This article was first published on May 16, 2016.
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