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Jack Neo on How he Discovers New Talents.

By Flora  /  29 Nov 2016 (Tuesday)

Photo Credit: SGIFF 2016

Film-maker Jack Neo is no stranger to Singaporeans for his films have entertained us throughout the years. A master in the business, Neo’s films has broke box-office records, won numerous awards and brought fame to many young actors who are now stars in their own right.

Apart from his comedic flair in most of his films, Neo is known to have an eye for discovering new talents. I Not Stupid actors like Shawn Lee and Joshua Ang became the talk of the town during the films’ releases in 2002 and 2006; not forgetting little actress Megan Zheng who won Singapore’s first Golden Horse Award with Neo’s ‘Home Run’; and in recent years, the army clad ensemble of ‘Ah Boys To Men’ that seen up-and-coming actors like Tosh Zhang, Maxi Lim, Wang Weiliang, Charlie Goh, Noah Yap and Bunz shot to fame. 

In terms of having a knack for uncovering these gems, Neo shared at the 'SG Originals' talk session as part of the SGIFF 2016 lineup, that he hopes to introduce new faces to each of his films, to give audiences a fresh surprise. 

He then recounted the transformative moment when Megan Zheng walked into the audition room to audition for the role as the younger sister in Home Run - which eventually led her to win the Best New Performer award at the Golden Horse Award, the first Singaporean to do so in 2003.

“When Megan came to do a cold read, she was very monotonous and didn’t excel in that portion. We told her ‘Thank you and we will contact you again’ - which actually means you didn’t make the cut’, and right before she left, she turned around and said: ‘Director, I have not shown you my ability to cry… I can cry in 2 seconds!’ and true enough, her tears just rolled down in seconds!” 

“To the directors out there, there are times where you have to change your mindset about your ideal character to suit the actors. Sometimes they will surprise you,” Neo added. 

When asked if there are films he thought that they were not ideal to his standards, Neo picked out two films: ‘Money No Enough' and ‘The Lion Men’.

“For ‘Money No Enough’, technology wasn’t that great then, and so it wasn’t done very well. We didn’t have much budget then. For ‘The Lion Men’, I felt we went in the wrong direction. We portrayed the entire activity as too fantastical. The lion men battles in the movie were more sing-and-dance mixed with Wushu, which was also rather imaginary, which is why the audience may not relate to that kind of concept.”

If you’re hoping to catch Jack Neo’s next movie, he will be taking the role as the executive producer for Chinese New Year film ‘Take Two’, directed by Ivan Ho and starring Ryan Lian, Wang Lei, Maxi Lim and Gadrick. 
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