10 years is a long time, and tonight marks the 10th year commemorative screening of one of Jack Neo's earliest movies in which he wrote the script for, and starred in, together with J-Team regulars Mark Lee and Henry Thia - Money No Enough, which in today's terms, as Golden Village Managing Director David Glass puts it, would probably still be champion of the local box office.
Entitled "10 Years of Great Jack Neo's Movies", cast, crew and friends from all his movies packed GV Vivocity's Max foyer to grace the occasion and pay tribute to one of Singapore's most hardworking directors, who had churned out no less than 11 movies in the past decade. The Who's Who this side of the local film industry gathered as testament to the popularity of Jack Neo's movies, which have almost always been able to reach into the psyche of the Singapore heartland.
The audience was treated to a 10 minute video clip which recapped some of his past movies, and contained interviews with various local directors and film industry honchos, you'd wonder what, or rather who, inspired Jack to branch into film. The answer's none other than Eric Khoo, whom Jack had collaborated with by starring in the former's 12 Storeys, this despite Jack having had watched Mee Pok Man, and still didn't understand the movie!
After 8 years of starring in television's long running and successful Comedy Night, his fellow collaborators and himself were looking for a breakthrough, and thought, why not film? And to those who usually remark that Jack's movies contained the obvious product placement, well, it never started off easy for him as it was extremely difficult to get funding, given the usual doors being closed on him because his story had no guns, violence or nudity.
Together with stars from Money No Enough like Ah Nan, Hui Ge and Mark Lee (who called in from Holland), Jack Neo revealed that despite Money No Enough making a killing at the box office, his core team of himself, Henry and Mark were only paid S$13K for their effort, including the script. Musing over the production details, they recalled the loss of a car from day one of production, as well as constant reminders from within that while the story could be an exaggeration, their acting styles shouldn’t, which is a departure from their television skits. And the worry to hit them during post production, was the realization that their dialogue was 80% in dialect (predominantly in Hokkien), and of course, the veiled criticism of the government. But we all know how it turned out, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Grateful to all his collaborators who have worked with him in the last 10 years, like Raintree Pictures with whom he had worked with in 7 out of his 11 movies, Jack Neo paid tribute to them all, starting with his family, and capped the night with a donation of the Money No Enough film to the Asian Film Archive for keeps, hopeful that the film will be preserved in good hands at the Archive, and for future generations who might be curious to watch one of the pioneering films which had demonstrated that it is indeed viable, and possibly profitable, to make a local box office success, despite the odds.
More good years and good films ahead, Jack!
Watch out for MONEY NO ENOUGH 2
Co-distributed in Singapore by Golden Village Pictures on 31st July 2008.