100 SECONDS ON THE RED SOFA: Sacred Guardian Singa5 min readReading Time: 4 minutes
Sacred Guardian Singa is a project to develop Singapore’s most influential and inspirational live-action superhero character, Singa, yet by combining elements of Singapore culture with Tokusatsu – think Japanese shows like Ultraman and Kamen Rider. The dream of the passionate duo Basil Yeo and Aydeel Djoeharie, co-founders of tokuAsia and producers of the project, is to bring the show to life as a series.
And it seems like every day brings them closer and closer to this reality.
“Two years ago, we had a little table at an exhibit selling Singa button badges and had a poster asking people to join our team. Two years later, we will be at Comic Con with a costume, a trailer, a team and partners,” Basil tells us excitedly.
The project had its start almost 13 years ago, describing him and partner, Meng Yeow, as “just a bunch of kids with no experience, no knowledge of film production and anything to do with making a short film or a TV series.” Yet, they endeavored on, building production company tokuAsia and starting out with client work.
“I was 17 when the project started and I think the most important thing to me back then was the desire to tell the world that the shows I enjoy watching are not just about heroes fighting villains – they are more than that,” Basil says, “They are about teaching the right values.”
Aydeel came on-board the project when it was known as Project LEO, a fan film project led by tokuAsia in 2006. Back then the concept was completely different and the three of them subsequently felt they needed to give the project a Singaporean identity.
This led to the team deciding that the story of Sacred Guardian Singa will be steeped in the history and mythology of Singapore’s region – dating back to before the island was known as Singapore. Aydeel is passionate that these themes will be necessary for Singaporeans to understand what it means to be Singaporean.
When asked about why they think Singapore hasn’t had a prominent superhero since VR Man, Aydeel reasons that, while he was excited for the show, the end product just wasn’t very interesting. “I think what happened was that the reception was pretty bad, with lots of people writing in slamming the show,” he says.
Basil believes that it may be because Singaporeans can be a cynical and hard-to-please bunch, unable to have the right amount of suspension of disbelief for superheroes to work locally. Nevertheless, the team hopes they can change that.
The team’s greatest concern is when audiences start to compare the effects they are able to pull off compared to Marvel, with the pair jokingly quipping that the catering budget for a Marvel blockbuster already exceeds the project’s entire budget. But they still have faith in the audience they are trying to capture, and that they will be willing to look past the inability to match up to Marvel’s effects standards.
The immediate plans the team has for the project is to first launch the pilot, subsequently growing it into full-fledged TV series by the end of 2021. Due to the support they have garnered from all around the world, the team plans to make the pilot freely available worldwide.
There are also plans to launch a comic book in 2020 to coincide with the release of the series’ pilot. Illustrated by Singaporean artist Alan Bay, the comic book will explain the origins of the hero and his mentor, and how they first met.
While most audiences might see the Tokusatsu genre as meant for kids, the team plans to balance between mature themes while being child-friendly at its heart. Basil explains, “I think kids are more receptive to dark themes than the government gives them credit for. I think a good middle ground would be along the lines of CW’s The Flash series.”
Basil continues, “Nostalgia for the genre is another way to ease audiences into the content. They might go in expecting something kiddie but we want to surprise them.” The vibe the team wants to give its audience is that anything is possible with hard work and effort; that budget might be an issue but it should not be a hindrance as much as possible.
“I want Singa to inspire young Singaporeans to be the best that we as Singaporeans can be,” Aydeel says, “If we really want our legacy, it is to be remembered that nothing is impossible if you believe hard enough, work hard enough, and try hard enough.”
Look forward to the exciting slew of events lined up for Sacred Guardians Singa in 2020 and beyond. The team will be present throughout Singapore Comic Con, happening from 7 to 8 December 2019, with a special sharing session about their story so far on the convention’s first day. Sign up for the session here!
In the meantime, follow their Facebook page here to keep up with Singapore’s next superhero.
About 100 Seconds On The Red Sofa
100 Seconds On The Red Sofa shines the spotlight on movers and shakers in the Singapore film and media scene, with each episode featuring people that are making waves and contributing to the industry’s growth and enrichment.
The Red Sofa has come a long way and has a rich history, dating all the way back to Sinema Old School in 2007. It’s seen a generation of young local filmmakers come into their own; now we’re dusting it off for another round.