SINGAPORE — Director Jack Neo announced on Wednesday (28 Sept) that he is about to shoot his next movie, Ah Girls Go Army, and he plans to release it in time for the coming Chinese New Year.
The film, a co-production by Neo's J Team Productions and mm2 Entertainment, is slated to hit cinemas on 1 February, the first day of Chinese New Year 2022.
Ah Girls Go Army, a spin-off of Neo's Ah Boys To Men films, is set in an imaginary future Singapore in which females are conscripted into the military because there are not enough males. Apple Chan will star in the main role, reprising her character from Ah Boys To Men 4, army officer Zhang Xinyi. The cast of Ah Boys To Men will make cameo appearances.
Here's an official description of the movie's storyline:
The story will focus on Singapore’s first batch of female recruits, a bunch of Gen Z teens with different backgrounds and education. As they undergo the demanding Basic Military Training under the fierce leadership of Sergeant Lim and Lieutenant Zhang, the girls find themselves being pushed to their physical and emotional limits. Together, they will overcome their resistance to serve National Service, face the challenges before them, and discover newfound abilities - using them to resolve and mend relationship issues in their personal life.
J Team and mm2 also announced that casting for actors began on Wednesday through online auditions. Producers are looking to "recruit" fresh faces to fill some of the minor roles in the film.
Neo said at a press conference for the movie's announcement that he had stopped movie production during the pandemic, but the local film industry had to move forward as Singapore planned to live with endemic COVID-19.
The director said the budget for Ah Girls Go Army is expected to be about S$1.6 million to S$1.8 million. It was originally planned as a web series but investors later thought that the concept would work well as a feature film.
Asked whether the time frame to make the movie was too short, with four months left to the film's scheduled release, Neo said that it was a manageable time frame for the scale of the film, given that the script has been written already. He said that shooting is expected to last 25 days and be completed in November, while post-production should be completed by January.
"Singaporeans are very fortunate; we live in a relatively safe and stable world. But what if the population of young people drop below the level that we need to sustain our defense?" said Neo. "We know that the birth rate of our society is dropping each year. Can our Singaporean women step up to the challenge of defending our nation, the same as we ask of our men? This is what I want to explore in our new movie. In a lot of ways, this mirrors the first batch of young men who were called up for NS way back in 1967. They would be the grandfathers of the Gen Z's we have acting in Ah Girls now."
Ng Say Yong, chief content officer of mm2 Asia, said, "We're most pleased to start production on another Jack Neo movie. This is a challenging time for the media industry but we're determined to overcome it by doing what we do best – produce compelling and entertaining content to meet an audience long deprived of a good local movie. And what better way to do it than taking a leaf off Singapore's most iconic franchise and injecting it with the subject matter of diversity and gender equality? Jack Neo's familiar brand of humour will lift spirits as we continue to navigate with cautious optimism the choppy waters ahead of us."
Neo's last movie, The Diam Diam Era 2, was released in cinemas in February this year.
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