jon m. chu
Photo: Getty

“It was our last day today, so our whole cast, even though they were not in the shot, they came, and we were all sitting and watching the sunrise as we were shooting.” Jon M. Chu is talking about his last day of shooting the highly anticipated Crazy Rich Asians movie in the private Boardroom at Apple Orchard Road ahead of his Today At Apple session in the store later. “Singapore has been the best. It’s a city of the future, that I can’t wait to show on film!”

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You’d be forgiven for expecting the 37-year-old Hollywood director, who counts films such as Now You See Me 2, two Step Up movies and a G.I. Joe film under his belt, to be a Hitchcockian persona (think: uptight, controlled, intense), but that was nothing like the down-to-earth individual who was clearly passionate for his work and the creativity involved in it. In the short time that he spent with us, we touched on topics from social media to the way technology has changed the film making process and we came away with valuable insights and more information about the Crazy Rich Asians movie!

Here are our key takeaways from our intimate chat:

On using social media in his work… Social media for me is an extension of who I am. My conversations are not just with people who like my work, but also the work that I usually jump into. Whether it’s G.I. Joe, or Now You See Me 2, or Justin Bieber, all the Step Up movies; all these audiences already built in, so they want to talk to you, and they want to give you advice; and that’s been really helpful.

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On the power of social media in creating conversations… I think the communication [on social media] between fans and filmmakers has been great, and sometimes not so great, but as long as you can weave through all of that, I love when you’re making a movie, and you feel you’re not in a dark hole by yourself anymore.

On the role of a modern director… What is it  that a director does? You’re not just directing the actors and you’re not just directing how the production design should look, and how the lighting should feel, but you’re bringing, overall, a tone. And tone is… it could be anything. Tone is who you are. Tone is your perspective. And how you communicate tone by images, music, your presence, how you describe things, how you collect things, how you present those things collected, usually is a good indication of how you see a material itself.

jon m. chu
Photo: Getty

On his first connection with Crazy Rich Asians I was looking for something. I needed something fresh for myself. I needed something more personal, I needed to find a story that I hadn’t explored before. My mom is from Taiwan, and my dad is from China, and they came to the United States and I was raised as an all-American boy, although I was raised in a Chinese restaurant as well. So I had this sort of dual way of thinking.

On finding out his family was referenced in the book… I found out Kevin [Kwan] knew my cousin Vivian, and that a lot of references of the Chus and Cupertino were stories that she had told, and I’m referenced in that. So I was like, ‘There’s something weird happening with this…’ I feel compelled both emotionally and personally to it, and then this other coincidence that happened to me. And that was what led us here! To Singapore.

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On his favourite spots in Singapore… Gardens by the Bay, which is a beautiful garden. We shot at Raffles Hotel, and we shot at the Merlion this morning, and we wrapped at 7am in the morning, we were there as the sun was rising — it was magical.

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We are here. And this is happening.

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