Hunt for boy to star in first of its kind Penang Hokkien flick

Camera, lights, action: Doyle filming a scene for the trailer of You Mean the World to Me at the Tan Jetty in Penang.

Camera, lights, action: Doyle filming a scene for the trailer of You Mean the World to Me at the Tan Jetty in Penang.

GEORGE TOWN: The director of a movie touted as the first in the world to use Penang Hokkien is looking for a fresh face to play the lead role of a 10-year-old boy in You Mean the World to Me.

So if you know of a boy of about 10 who speaks good Penang Hokkien dialect, why not get him to take a shot at stardom?

The audition will be tomorrow from 11am to 5pm at Studio 2 in Penang Performing Arts Centre in Straits Quay.

Director and scriptwriter Saw Teong Hin prefers to have a fresh actor despite it being the main role,

“I have no choice. I know it will be a challenge when the main role is played by a first-timer. But there aren’t any young actors of that age who can speak the dialect,” he said in an interview.

The movie has a dual title. It is You Mean the World to Me in English and in Hokkien, Hai Ki Xin Lor (Seafront New Road), which is the old name for Victoria Street in Penang’s heritage enclave.

It was originally a play in the George Town Festival last year.

The movie tells of an adult Sunny who returns to Penang to face his inner demons. He visits his sister and heartbreaks abound.

Sunny has a mentally ill older brother who is seen as physically intimate with his protective mother in a daring and provocative scene.

In spite of one dark revelation after another in Sunny’s family, the movie will have a redemptive ending that speaks of hope and forgiveness.

This boy-actor will play the role of little Sunny in flashback scenes of the adult Sunny.

The tearjearker flick will depict Penang in the 1970s.

Managing the cameras and lighting crew will be cinematographer Christopher Doyle, who had done the same for more than 30 Hong Kong and Taiwanese films including Hero with Jet Li and Maggie Cheung in 2002.

Saw, who made a name for himself after directing the 2004 epic fantasy Puteri Gunung Ledang starring Puan Sri Tiara Jacquelina, advised boys who wish to audition for little Sunny’s role not to be shy.

“Put aside your inhibitions and do your best. Don’t hold yourself back,” he said.

In the audition, Saw is looking for:

i) six boys (including the actor for little Sunny) aged around 10, all Hokkien speaking;

ii) five men in their late 40s, all Hokkien speaking;

iii) An actress for the role of a waitress in her 30s, English speaking;

iv) A young girl in her early or mid-20s, Hokkien speaking;

v) A young girl in her mid-20s who speaks Mandarin like mainland Chinese; and

vi) A large number of extras from age eight to 60, mainly between 20s and 40s.

Saw said the role of the adult Sunny would be played by an experienced actor whom he would cast later.

Penang , hokkien , movie