Working on spooky movies can make one paranoid about strange goings-on.
American Tony Kern, 41, discovered this first hand while working on his debut feature, the 2008 documentary A Month of Hungry Ghosts.
Once, he had a mysterious trance-like experience; another time, one of his set lights ominously exploded.
More recently, while working on Haunted Changi, a film that Kern produced, edited and helped shoot, he had a creepy, skin-crawling experience. Trust him to shoot pick-up (additional) shots all by himself at the spooky Old Changi Hospital.
Fortunately, Kern has come through these weird situations unscathed and tells inSing.com
When and why did you come to Singapore?
I met a wonderful woman here and when I came to Singapore I fell in love with her and the island. I had been wanting to pursue a filmmaking career full-time and write some scripts anyhow, so I left my editing job in Los Angeles and headed over in 2005.
What inspired you to start making movies here?
On my first visit here, my girlfriend mentioned the Hungry Ghost Festival and I became obsessed with it. Later, I felt I really needed to witness it during the 'seventh month' in Singapore for myself, and while I was here we just started documenting it. Next thing we knew, we had a film (A Month of Hungry Ghosts).
After that film, I became fascinated with the local culture and folklore, and decided to write some scripts.
What led you to make Haunted Changi?
I've always been fascinated with old decaying houses and buildings, and of course, Old Changi Hospital is surrounded by history, rumor and folklore. I just got drawn into it. Haunted Changi gave me a chance to work on a narrative film with Singaporeans and see who I could work with in future projects.
Tell us more about the strange events you’ve experienced while shooting.
For A Month of Hungry Ghosts, I filmed a Tibetan Buddhist congregation going into the jungle, by candlelight, to invite the spirits to partake in the ghost festival.
I heard a noise in the jungle behind me and turned around. I was suddenly mesmerized by something, as if in a trance. The sound of bells snapped me out of it.
Later, the Lama chuckled and said, “You need to stay close to me and the rest of the group. There are other ‘friends’ here with us now.”
On Haunted Changi, I was actually filming some pick-up shots inside Old Changi Hospital by myself at night, and I had this strange feeling the whole time that I was being watched.
At one point, I heard noises in the next room. It sounded as if some kids had shown up to explore (which was quite common) but when I turned the corner, there was no one in the room.
What are your favourite horror films and do you expect to make more movies here?
The Shining (by Stanley Kubrick), The Thing (John Carpenter), Pan’s Labyrinth (Guillermo Del Doro), Vampyr (Carl Theodor Dreyer), Nosferatu (F.W. Murnau), Session 9 (Brad Anderson) and Kwaidan (Masaki Kobayashi), to name just a few.
I've actually been asked to direct a Chinese dramatic film, even though I do not speak a word of the language – that might make for an interesting directing experience!
I’ve written some scripts already and collected some ideas into a screenplay called Third Eye Open, a horror movie I plan to make next. So yes, I want to make more movies here.