Agents of Sprawl, the newest live-action drama starring TikTok star Ming Wei Rocks; child actor, Hermie Latiff; and Taekwondo athlete, Erica Lee is set to launch on 13 November on Mediacorp’s okto on 5 and meWATCH. Television Asia Plus caught up with Executive Producer Lim Suat Yen and Director David Suen to give us a taste of what to expect from the series.
Presenting children’s content in an eye-catching format where live-action meets 2D animation, 15% of the show takes place inside the 2D world of the fictional “Sprawl,” a VR platform that relies only on user brainwaves. At the centre of the story is a pair of unlikely heroes who collaborate to save the world.
In order to bring to life the characters of Agents of Sprawl, David shared that he focused on the three main cast members. For Zayd, the story’s protagonist played by Latiff can be seen levelling up throughout the 10-episode series. To bring out Zayd’s character, David asked Latiff to do something over-the-top and this is what pushed him towards a more believable Zayd.
Meanwhile, for Erica Lee, who plays Mei Ling in the series, David asked the actress to take notes from Emma Watson’s portrayal of Hermoine Granger in the Harry Potter series. “Erica is a very inquisitive actress. Always asking questions. The more I explained, the more she had a feel for her character,” David said.
TikTok influencer Ming Wei portrayed NORMAN, a self-reasoning cyborg. Since Ming Wei’s character is a machine, David said that his expressions needed to be somewhat stiffer. “He sort of has to have that fine balance between acting and portraying his character,” David said. “We didn’t want him to try acting too much as the other actors, so the script was written in a way that he has more action and less dialogue.”
Executive Producer Yen highlighted the action-packed scenes of Agents of Sprawl and said that most of the stunts were carried out by Ming Wei and Erica Lee. She said, “We hope this show will encourage kids to pick up more sports activities.”
Targeted at children from ages 7 to 11, Agents of Sprawl’s characters appear as avatars, similar to MMORPG where characters fight monsters to level up. David said, “With the influx of social media and streaming content, capturing a child’s attention is by far fleeting. We try to make the show pacier, the dialogue snappier.”
The Director added that Yen, the Executive Producer, makes sure that the show stays true to its intended purpose. “No recipe is the same when it comes to content, especially children’s content,” David said. “We have to strike a balance between the content being able to attract a child, thereby being entertaining and relatable versus the content being suitable to this group of target audience, making sure the content is responsible and in line with the Singapore government’s PSB values.”
Meanwhile, a series like Agents of Sprawl is a first for Yen. “I’ve attempted to portray human relationships with an AI who is fighting against an evil robot that wants to control the world,” Yen shared. “I hope this story can show that even in the virtual world, there is right and wrong, good and bad. You’ll need to be open-minded to assess what is best for you. Ultimately, be your own master instead of being a slave to the digital world.”