Production on a multicultural Romeo and Juliet-style action drama starring Jenny Wu, Paul He, Grace Huang, Ethan Browne, and Tsu Shan Chambers is underway in Western Sydney.
Directed by Heidi Lee Douglas, Suka follows the Yang clan’s thirst for power in the locality’s gangland scene.
The only line of defence is the Dawood family, led by matriarch Wasiya (Shan Chambers), who stealthily forges alliances to quash the hold of the Yang family, overseen by patriarch, Jun (Tony Goh), the murderer of her husband.
Wasiya’s only daughter, Hui (Wu), was sent away as a child for protection and is unaware of this generational feud. When she returns to Australia as an adult, she stays with her best friend, Jay (Browne), who is secretly in love with her. Bo (He), heir to the Yang family, has also grown up and – with his older sister Fandi (Huang) – now carries out their father’s dirty business dealings.
Unaware of each other’s family ties, Hui and Bo meet by chance and fall for each other. The latter, obligated by family duty and his father’s insistence, is forced to assassinate a local trader who has betrayed the Yang clan, an incident Hui witnesses before being captured by Fandi. Bo is then torn between honor and love when he discovers that his beloved Hui is the daughter of his father’s worst enemy.
Chambers co-wrote the script with Lily Cheng and also serves as producer alongside Franco Sama from the US, with Mark Naidoo executive producing for Creamsource.
The independently funded feature-length production carries with it an additional online interactive component, in which viewers will be able make one of two choices for the characters at the end of each episode.
It will be distributed in the US via sales agent Synergetic, with the film to feature on their Darkroom Streaming platform. Mind the Gap Film Finance is also supporting the production, which is also being financed via the Producer Offset. No Australian distribution has been confirmed as yet.
The three-week shoot began last week with an all-female creative team, including the only accredited female stunt coordinator in New South Wales, Jackie Murray.
Chambers told IF she began working on the project with Cheng and Douglas five years ago, after being inspired to write the story from her own experience while on student exchange in China.
“I was stuck between two feuding host families during my twelve months there, where one of them owned half of what is called ‘women’s street’ and the other owned his massive hotel chain, so they were constantly feuding over power and other things,” she said.
“That’s when I came up with this concept of Suka, which means love in Malay and bitch in Russian, and Lily is half-Russian and half Chinese, so we ended up going with it.
“I come from a social impact background as well so with a lot of my work, regardless of the genre, I like to have some kind of social impact messaging as well that is also entertaining.”
Such was the foundation of the interactive element, which she said related to the gangland setting of the story.
“What we’re trying to do to is say to our target demographic, which is the younger-skewed male audience, is that they can make a choice,” she said.
“They don’t have to follow generational feuds that have been going on for ages and they can find a better way to things sometimes.”
Post-production on Suka is expected to be completed in January.