Six years is a very long time to wait for a filmmaker to make his second feature. Then again, Anthony Chen hasn’t exactly been slacking off since his Cannes Camera d’Or and Golden Horse Award-feted feature debut Ilo Ilo, the semi-autobiographical drama about a teen (Koh Jia Ler) and his relationship with his parents (Chen Tianwen and Yeo Yann Yann) and their Filipino maid (Angeli Bayani) during the 1997 financial crisis.
In the following years, Chen, 35, kept himself busy with projects produced by his company, Giraffe Pictures. He was the hands-on executive producer on Distance, the 2015 omnibus feature, starring Taiwanese Chen Bolin, and helmed by directors from Singapore, China and Thailand; and Pop Aye, Kirsten Tan’s 2017 shot-in-Thailand debut about a midlife-crisis-stricken man (Thaneth Warakulnukroh) accompanying an elephant to his childhood home.
During this time, Chen also managed to find time to make his second feature, Wet Season. The London-based Chen shot the film — starring Yeo Yann Yann as a Chinese language teacher struggling to conceive a child, and Koh Jia Ler as a student she forms an unlikely friendship with — last year in Singapore.
On the home front, Chen has a new role to juggle: fatherhood. Last year, he and his wife had a son, Ethan, who’s now 10 months old. While his risk-analyst wife is back at work, Chen is holding the fort at home, taking care of the baby, doing laundry and grocery-shopping. He’s become his own helper, Chen tells 8 DAYS via Skype from London. He also brings Ethan to his production meetings. “He’d also sat through quite a few meetings with producers and editing and sound mixing sessions.”
While Chen didn’t reveal too much about Wet Season (“we still have quite a bit to do in post-production”), he is game to share his thoughts on Ilo Ilo and Pop Aye, both are available on Toggle, as part of the ‘Lights. Camera. Singapore’ showcase, and whether he would take on a juggernaut like a Marvel Studios movie.