Filmmaker still keen on baby despite heavy schedule
He might be one of Singapore’s busiest film-makers whose plate looks set to become fuller in 2015.
But that does not mean Anthony Chen intends to put his much-publicised baby-making plans on hold.
Chen is best known for his critically acclaimed movie Ilo Ilo (2013), which took the world by storm by winning the Camera d'Or for Best Film at last year's Cannes Film Festival and four Golden Horse Awards in Taiwan.
The 30-year-old said yesterday that he and his wife of five years are hell-bent on having a child, despite his hectic work schedule.
"Our (baby) is still in the making," he told The New Paper with a radiant smile.
"Everything has to be concurrent. It is tough, but we are definitely hoping to get it done soon. We are trying very hard."
Chen, who is based in London with his wife, PhD student Rachel Yan, 32, had previously expressed a keen desire for fatherhood to many media outlets.
Looks like he has to aim for a Jubilee baby now, instead of one born in the Year of the Horse.
Back in Singapore yesterday to announce the launch of his boutique film company Giraffe Pictures and its maiden project Distance, a Singapore-China-Thai collaborative omnibus film, Chen acknowledged that high stress levels affect the chances of conceiving.
For that, he is thankful for the slower pace of life London has to offer.
"Living in London definitely helps," he maintained.
"There, I hardly take public transport as I cycle every day for two hours, whether to meetings, or to catch up with friends.
"This really allows my mind to relax."
When it comes to getting a bun in his wife's oven, obstacles abound though, especially with Chen having three movie projects on hand.
He is currently preparing two English-language films in England ("Unfortunately, I can't disclose details of that yet," Chen said) and will be coming on board Distance as executive producer.
Distance stars Taiwanese actor Chen Bo-lin as the male lead and will be helmed by three rising directors: Singapore's Tan Shijie, China's Xin Yukun and Thailand's Sivaroj Kongsakul.
"Even though I am not directing this film, I can already forsee that when shooting starts, I will be physically away from London for six months," said Chen.
He added: "I am a control freak in that sense. I hope to be on set to make sure it all goes well.
"Also, my wife recently graduated and she has been going for job interviews, which means she can't travel with me as much as we would like.
"Last week, she accompanied me to the Asia Pacific Screen Awards 2014 in Brisbane (where I was a jury member), but she couldn't join me for the whole time."
WHY DID HE NOT JOIN THE 7 LETTERS PROJECT?
To celebrate Singapore's 50th year of independence next year, seven renowned local film-makers will come together to present 7 Letters, an anthology of short films about Singapore's heartland and its people.
They include Jack Neo, Royston Tan, Eric Khoo, Kelvin Tong and Tan Pin Pin, among others.
But where is Anthony Chen in the line-up?
Chen explained that he turned down Royston Tan's invitation to participate in such a high-profile project for personal and professional reasons.
He said: "When I was invited to take part, I literally had been travelling for 1½ years promoting Ilo Ilo around the world. (The film) took close to five years of my life (in all). It really took a toll on me and I needed (time) to recover.
"My wife hasn't seen me much, it is time to devote my attention to family life again."
He added that he is also seldom in Asia and that his upcoming films "require a lot of energy".
"It's just not possible for me to take on anything else. When I say 'yes' to something, I need to be confident that I can devote all my heart to it. The last thing I want is to deliver a compromised piece of work."
Chen added: "I think all of us are contributing to Singapore cinema in our own little ways and the next focus for my work in Singapore is to support more young talented film-makers."