Hokkien Film: Ixora Flower

Ixora Flower is a Hokkien film produced by a group of students – 61 Adolescence Films – from Temasek Polytechnic, Digital Film & TV, as part of their Final Year Project. Inspired by the real-life events of the director’s grandaunt, the story centred on two sisters, who were caught in the unfortunate 1961 Bukit Ho Swee fire in Singapore.

Last October, the production crew reached out to LearnDialect.sg to help coach their main cast in their Hokkien script. We were intrigued! The younger generations in Singapore hardly speak Hokkien, so we wondered, why would these students risk their grades to produce a film in an unfamiliar language? The crew explained that they wanted to honour our Pioneer generation, who had contributed greatly to Singapore. Thus they set their minds to create a film for our seniors to reminisce about old Singapore. They also wanted to film it in Hokkien – a language commonly spoken by these seniors – even though their crew of diverse ethnicity do not speak Hokkien. We were deeply moved.

Hokkien Film: Script Coaching with Main Cast – Ling En & Jaylynn

The original script was written in English and Mandarin and we helped to translate the lines into everyday Hokkien. On script-reading days, we headed to Temasek Polytechnic to meet with the main cast, Ling En and Jaylynn. Line by line, we went through the pronunciation with them. It wasn’t easy for them to embrace a new language in such a short period of time, much less having to emote and express accordingly. As such, we didn’t expect them to deliver the lines with 100% accuracy. However, Ling En and Jaylynn conscientiously took notes and practised on their own too. Then there were days when we were on set to ensure that the main leads were pronouncing their lines as clearly as possible. Often, Ling En and Jaylynn also had to learn new lines on the spot, when we were informed that there were impromptu changes to the script.

A particularly memorable night was the filming at Pulau Ubin, where the conditions were not the best. The weather wasn’t kind, as filming often had to stop due to the heavy rain. It didn’t help that unidentified bugs were always around us too. However, when the camera started to roll, both Ling En and Jaylynn were always ready with their expressions and lines. They worked hard without a single complaint, putting in their blood (thanks to starving mosquitoes), sweat and tears. We couldn’t have been more impressed with their professionalism.

Hokkien Film Ixora Flower Learn Dialect

Hokkien Film: Trailer & Behind-the-Scenes Clip

This Hokkien film, made with good intentions, surpassed our expectations. Frankly, the production crew could have taken the easy way out. For example, instead of a period drama, they could have a plot based in modern times. They could then save the effort of renting period props, costumes, and perhaps, use more accessible locations for filming. Similarly, instead of filming in Hokkien, they could film it in English instead. That would probably make the production process easier for everyone since the majority of them do not speak Hokkien. However, they didn’t. The crew’s commitment and resilience are what we loved most about this Hokkien film.

Here’s a trailer of the film, together with behind-the-scenes shots of our coaching. Do keep a lookout for the premiere in November!