Rhys Meyers filming mystical movie here next year

Jonathan Rhys Meyers in a scene from Dracula.
Jonathan Rhys Meyers in a scene from Dracula. PHOTO: DIVA

A movie starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers is scheduled to begin filming in Singapore early next year.

Billed as a "mystical drama", Shambhala also features local actor Allan Wu and will use locations such as the National University of Singapore and a black-and-white bungalow.

The project is produced by Singapore-based house Xeitgeist Entertainment Group, a relative newcomer to the industry.

Mr Mark Montgomery, 55, co-founder and president of Xeitgeist, tells Life that the film is a "mystical tale set in Singapore and the Hindu Kush".

British actor Meyers plays a man who loses his memory after surviving a plane crash in the remote mountains of Pakistan. He is haunted by memories in which he is a professor, teaching in Singapore.

"The film could have been set in Tokyo or England, but we chose Singapore because it's the company's hometown. Also, there is the skyline. It's dynamic and makes for great shots, so it works well for us," says Mr Montgomery, an Australian.

Singapore's intellectual property laws and position as a commercial bridge between Asia and the West also made the island a good choice for a base, he says.

The firm is headed by chief executive and co-founder Jomon Thomas, 42, also an Australian, while Singaporean lawyer Tan Min-Li is its director.

Ms Tan, who declined to give her age, says: "One of our missions is to bridge East and West in our films. It's something we're passionate about."

To that end, the label produced the period drama The Man Who Knew Infinity, starring British actors Dev Patel and Jeremy Irons, premiering here at the Singapore International Film Festival next month.

Patel, best known for starring in Slumdog Millionaire (2008), is expected to be in town for the gala opening of the biopic of Srinivasa Ramanujan, the India-born mathematics genius.

During World War I, Ramanujan studied at Cambridge University with Professor G.H. Hardy, played by Irons.

Xeitgeist was formed in 2011 with a brief to make low-budget independent films, typically for under US$10 million (S$14.2 million).

Mr Montgomery is aware of the controversy surrounding RGM Entertainment and RGM Group, Singapore-based companies with Western roots which, after receiving funds from the Singapore Government, failed to carry out its promise of making Asia-tinged films for global audiences.

In 2012, both RGM entities were sued by the Media Development Authority for $27.5 million over an unpaid loan and undelivered projects.

Mr Montgomery says that so far, none of Xeitgeist's projects have received investment from the Singapore Government.

These include Shambhala, The Man Who Knew Infinity and another unreleased film, Damascus Cover, a spy thriller also starring Meyers, along with double Academy Award nominee John Hurt.

Meyers is best known for parts in films such as Match Point (2005) and Mission: Impossible III (2006), and for playing King Henry VIII in the television series The Tudors (2007-2010).

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 11, 2015, with the headline 'Rhys Meyers filming mystical movie here next year'. Print Edition | Subscribe