American actors Elizabeth Rice and Matthew Settle have been confirmed as the leads in a horror movie to be set and filmed in Singapore.
Shooting for The Faith Of Anna Waters starts this month.
Rice, 28, played Margaret Sterling in the acclaimed television drama series Mad Men, while Settle, 44, was Captain Speirs in the Golden Globe-winning miniseries Band Of Brothers (2001) and Rufus Humphrey in the drama-comedy Gossip Girl (2007-2012).
Singaporean film-maker Kelvin Tong (It's A Great, Great World, 2011; Kidnapper, 2010) will helm the feature, based on his screenplay.
The story revolves around Jamie Waters, a crime reporter (Rice) who travels from Chicago to Singapore to investigate the strange circumstances surrounding the death of her sister Anna, who lived here. She and her former husband Sam (Settle) are beset by a series of spooky events.
The film was previously titled Email, with actress Nikki Reed (The Twilight Saga, 2008-2012) attached. She left the project because of scheduling conflicts.
Tong, 40, says that the film, unlike recent international projects with a "made in Singapore" label, will not be shot on Infinite Studio's soundstages at Mediapolis (near Buona Vista) or Batam.
"The script will explain why a character needs to be in Singapore. She won't be here in transit, for example. It's not a 'she comes here, things happen', that sort of thing," he tells Life!.
Since the reason for her to be here is organic to the story, the backdrops need to feature real Singapore landscapes, he says.
Recent international productions such as 20th Century Fox's spy thriller Agent 47 used locations sparingly, preferring to keep to the soundstages at Mediapolis.
Film-makers have talked about the red tape and the high cost of filming on location here, with many preferring to shoot in Batam or Malaysia. But Tong is undeterred, saying that filming on Singapore streets is not as complex or expensive as believed.
The film is produced by Tong's own Boku Films, with additional investment from private sources as well as the Media Development Authority, through its production assistance grant.
To be released next year, it also stars local actors Adrian Pang and Jaymee Ong, as well as two Australians, veteran actor Colin Borgonon and child actress Adina Herz.
Rice says that she is eager and ready to start work, having just flown here from Los Angeles last week. This is her first time working in Asia.
"It all feel very familiar and comfortable and safe here," she says.
Settle is also set to tackle filming outdoors in the tropical heat. He is no stranger to discomfort, he says, having hosted a documentary series, Decisive Battles (2004), which took him to historical battle sites around the world, including the baking 42 deg C Egyptian desert.
"In Band Of Brothers, it was cold and wet and rainy. I've been down in the trenches. I'm ready for it."