Sunday 25 July 2010

Warning: The Phua Chu Kang movie synopsis you're reading could be wrong

Recently, someone showed me a write-up about the upcoming Phua Chu Kang movie in the 8 Days Movie Junkie Guide, which included a short synopsis of the movie.

Except the synopsis was wrong.

But then what do I know? I only wrote the movie.

There’s an old joke about the dumb blonde trying to get ahead in Hollywood by sleeping with the screenwriter. For an enactment of the joke, you can watch Heather Graham as said blonde in the 1999 movie Bowfinger.

The gag is that despite coming up with the story and dialogue, the screenwriter has about as much influence in the production (and marketing) of a movie as a sandbag has in the prevention of flood along Orchard Road.

The exception is when the writer also happens to be the director - and even producer - of the movie, like say, Avatar’s James Cameron and Inception’s Christopher Nolan. And look how badly those two movies turned out.

So even though I’m the writer of Phua Chu Kang The Movie, which will be released on Aug 12, I haven’t seen it (and don't intend to), so I don’t know how much of my script is actually in the completed movie.

All I know is that the 8 Days synopsis is one I wrote for a very early draft of the script, not the final version.

Just a month ago, I was asked to write a new synopsis, which has been uploaded on the official movie website at Why 8 Days didn’t use that synopsis I don’t know.

The publication also mentioned that the PCK movie has been in development for a decade, awaiting the “perfect script” to come along. As flattering as that may be, I know the truth is something else.

One thing you will notice is that among the millions of logos in the PCK promo materials, you won’t find one that says MediaCorp, even though MediaCorp owns the rights to PCK.

The producers had paid MediaCorp a lot of money for the rights to make the movie and hired me to write it last year practically at the last minute.

MediaCorp itself has little to do with the production or financing of the movie, although many of the people involved in the movie, including myself, are ex-MediaCorp employees.

My former employer (which also owns 8 Days, by the way) had been interested in doing a PCK movie since the '90s, but could never pull the trigger. (Even I was asked to come up with a PCK movie idea one during my MediaCorp days, but nothing came of it.)

Instead, MediaCorp’s Raintree Pictures announced two weeks ago that it will produce a movie about radio. I hope it will be in 3-D - or at least stereo. I assume the sequel (or prequel) will be about the telegraph. Let’s see if 8 Days will get the synopsis right.

So how do you tell if a PCK movie synopsis is the right one? If it says that PCK is persuaded by Ah Ma to bid for a job, it’s not.

In the movie, Ah Ma is actually (spoiler alert!) trying to prevent PCK from getting the job by...

Wait. What do I know? They could’ve changed it. I’m only the screenwriter.

And a huge Heather Graham fan.

- Published in The New Paper, 25 July 2010