Producer Tan Si En On WET SEASON’S International Premiere (And Lots Of Rain)
6 years after Ilo Ilo (2013) shook the local film scene with its unprecedented stellar performance on the international platform, Director Anthony Chen is returning with his highly anticipated feature — Wet Season (2019). Good news for fans of the 2013 Cannes Camera de’Or winner Ilo Ilo, which won the hearts of many around the world with its contemplative tale and impeccable attention to detail: Wet Season will be showing on local screens soon!
The film has already premiered at the established Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) this September. Revolving around the lives of a teacher struggling with her failing marriage and a particularly lonely student of hers, Wet Season hints at another insightful examination of human nature and relationships. We had the opportunity to ask Producer Tan Si En some questions over an email interview, so here’s the little teaser to tide you through the wait:
Is it your first time working on a film together? How did your partnership for Wet Season come about?
Anthony and I started our working relationship in 2016 on POP AYE by Kirsten Tan. We found a good synergy working together and it naturally evolved into this partnership on Wet Season.
What was the most challenging aspect of the film’s production? How did you pull it off?
As the title suggests, it rains a lot in our film. The weather in Wet Season is very closely intertwined with the lead’s emotional state and 80% of the film is set in rain, so the execution was extremely challenging.
It was atmospheric and easy to imagine the viscerality of rain on the script, but when it came to bringing it to the screen, it was hard work. And one could never be waiting for actual rain to fall when you are shooting a film.
We explored CGI and VFX but found out that liquid effects are extremely difficult to replicate especially on a realist film such as ours and there was no way our budget could afford those numbers either.
We eventually took on the challenge to create rain using only practical effects. Our very hardworking art team built rain rigs, and there was a lot of planning, experimentation and preparation involved to get the look we wanted.
How was the environment and reception at the TIFF premiere?
A lot of blood, sweat and tears went into making this film so it was really heartening to see the reception and love from audiences. I think people really connected with the film and related to the emotions it was delivering. The environment at TIFF was fantastic. Being a well-known fest among critics and audiences we got to speak with a lot of people and see their reactions firsthand. Being the only Asian film in the prestigious platform competition had its advantages for sure.
How do you think Singaporean audiences will react to this film? What do you hope for them to get out of it?
We hope that they find something in the film that they can connect with, and it is a film that makes them think, and hopefully move them in some way or other. It is a joy to see my own country on the big screen and I hope Singaporean audiences feel that pride as well.
What’s in store for Wet Season in the near future?
Wet Season will continue its festival tour. We are headed next to Vancouver, London, Pingyao in China and the Golden Horse Film Festival in Taipei, with many other festivals to be further announced. And the film will be released in Singapore cinemas in late November.
What do you hope the film’s legacy will be?
Legacy might be too strong a word. And we didn’t go about producing a film thinking about its legacy. Wet Season is a simple story with powerful emotions. The poetry was very important to us and our hard work was to deliver that in its mise-en-scene on screen. Any film is a dialogue between filmmaker and audience and we hope the audience feel the emotions Anthony and the team has poured into telling this story.
Any words for filmmakers who are just starting out?
Anything worth making involves risk. Trust in your team and it will be less daunting. Of course, it’s about finding the right team and people to work with to begin with. And we are glad we did!
Keep an eye out for Wet Season coming to Singapore later this year! Meanwhile, catch the trailer:
Banner Image Credit: Variety.com