Filming for the highly-anticipated local movie “Ah Boys To Men 4” (ABTM4) officially began in late June this year. However, it has since been delayed by about a week due to issues such as rainy weather and, more notably, the use of real tanks provided by the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF).
“It can be quite a hassle but safety is always our number one priority. Production is slow but the delay is necessary,” shared director Jack Neo in Mandarin during a media set visit on Tuesday (5 September) afternoon.
“It looks easy to film but it is actually not. Every time we make a mistake we have to film from the start of the scene again; the tanks take some time to move as well”, he added.
This is the first time that SAF tanks are being used for filming a Singaporean movie. These vehicles include three Bionix II infantry fighting vehicles, two Leopard 2SG main battle tanks and two M113 armoured personnel carriers.
The scene the production crew was busy preparing for was one in which a tank crushes a car, alongside several explosions and civilian ‘casualties’. Neo shared that it was not going to be a simulated video game scene like in previous seasons, but ‘real fighting scenes with real enemies’.
“The objective of this scene is to let viewers understand that danger is real”, Neo added. “The message to drive home is that we cannot just sit back and do nothing, we have to depend on ourselves”.
The location of the scene took place in an estate of en-bloc flats at Dover Road, where all residents have already moved out, to minimise the number of residents being disturbed by production. And unlike in a previous season where they filmed such a scene in Shenton Way, they had much more space and freedom to do as much as possible this time round.
The set took around three days to complete, with debris scattered all over the ‘road’ which was formerly an open-air carpark beside a HDB block. In the scene, household items were strewn all over and many old cars had been flipped over.
Calling it the “most exciting yet hardest scene” of such a big-scale production, Neo stressed that he himself wasn’t sure if filming could be completed on time.
“The timeline is very tight, and we want to push out the movie by the end of the year as it is NS50 this year”, he shared. Several SAF personnel were also at the scene to ensure that things ran smoothly, as well as to handle technical things such as running the tanks.
None of the actors were on set as they were not part of those scenes. And, while the scene would already be impactful enough, Neo said that CGI would still be used to erase out the smaller details.
The car-crushing scene had to be done in just one take due to resources needed, and when it was indeed completed in a take, Neo only had one word to describe it – “beautiful”.
ABTM4 will be centred on reservist training and the Singapore Armed Forces’ Armoured Formation unit and will be released in Singapore cinemas on 9 November 2017.
Watch the car crushing scene here:
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