"Buyer Beware", the latest offering from Malaysian filmmaker Jeffrey Chiang, stars Hong Kong Carlos Chan as a property agent named Charlie who sells haunted properties to unaware buyers.
However, if the director had not make a slight change in his script prior to filming, Carlos wouldn't be in the movie as his character would've been played by an actress instead. This little titbit was revealed by the director himself to Cinema Online during an interview held at The Curve last Tuesday evening.
Both Jeffrey and Carlos were present to talk about the horror movie, which, despite its Hong Kong setting, was actually fully filmed in Malaysia. Furthermore, mm2 Entertainment Malaysia is contributing 10% of the movie's box office revenue to Tabung Harapan Malaysia.
During the interview, Jeffrey shared that he is working on a US remake now, which will be shot in the US and will feature an American cast and crew. He is also looking for a new US director to helm the remake.
Find out what made the director change his "Buyer Beware" lead character from female to male:
Cinema Online: What was the main challenge you faced with "Buyer Beware"?
Jeffrey: I think the main challenge was when I wrote the script, the lead character was supposed to be female but I decided to change it. Then the big challenge was finding a male actor that really fits the role of Charlie. I think we went to Hong Kong a couple of times for casting and still couldn't find the lead. I think it was very lucky that James, our producer, saw Chan Ka Lok (Carlos' Chinese name) in his independent film and got him, four weeks before the shoot.
Why did you decide to change the lead character from female to male?
Jeffrey: Because most horror movies the lead is always female, so I was thinking we go down that road, for a property agent to be female, to sell haunted houses, it becomes a little bit...uhm...not quite there. So then okay, I switched it to a male character.
Your movie is actually set in Hong Kong but shot fully in Malaysia?
Jeffrey: Actually the whole idea was for me, I wanted to do a Hong Kong supernatural film. So I was thinking how we can approach this because obviously we were also looking at all the challenges in terms of bringing in a Hong Kong cast, shooting the movie here in Malaysia and trying to achieve that Hong Kong look. Because mainly haunted houses are interiors anyway. So we thought we'd try and experiment.
Was it difficult setting a movie in Hong Kong but filming it in another country?
Jeffrey: The most difficult was the location because in the movie we had five different locations, so each location needed a specific characteristic as well. Looking for those five houses became quite a problem, we were even thinking of building sets at one point, especially because we wanted that whole big mansion with a stairwell thing. So at the end we found that house in Genting Highlands, of all places.
Genting Highlands is notorious as one of Malaysia's famous haunted places, did anything happen while you were filming there or anytime during the project?
Jeffrey: We have a lot of stories. Because two of the houses were in Genting Highlands, at Awana level. So some of the crew would stay overnight and I didn't choose to stay overnight, I'd come back down to KL. The makeup artist told me that one night about 2 to 3 o'clock in the morning, when she woke up to go to the bathroom – she was staying in one room and across the hallway there was another room with a huge makeup table with a big mirror – she saw someone at the makeup table brushing her hair.
Carlos: [Flustered] I did not know that. But I did experience something while filming, I felt someone propping up my arm just when I was feeling tired, I was holding my phone to take photos during one of the scenes. When the scene wrapped, I found out no one on set helped me, it was actually "someone else".
Are you working on any other projects after "Buyer Beware"?
Carlos: I am working on other projects now but I can't reveal what they are.
Jeffrey: We're finishing up on another mm2 project and I am thinking of another ghost story. We are also looking to remake this into a US version, so I'm working on the script.
Carlos, will you be working on horror again?
Carlos: I've done a couple of horror titles so I'd like to try romance or comedy next.
"Buyer Beware" was released earlier on 28 June in Hong Kong and Singapore, on 19 July in Malaysia and will also be seen in Cambodian cinemas this 23 July.