Singaporean filmmaker Gavin Lim is delighted to have the world premiere of his debut feature “Diamond Dogs” at home at the 28th Singapore International Film Festival. The SGIFF, which kicks off Thursday, is part of the Singapore Media Festival.

“It’s important for my first film to premiere in SGIFF, instead of every Singaporean filmmaker’s strategy of going international first and losing that world premiere cherry elsewhere and then coming back to SGIFF after garnering some accolades,” says Lim. “I think it’s important to cultivate Singapore audiences to love our own first rather than seek validation from others. So maybe it is foolhardy and stupid, but I think premiering in SGIFF is important to Singaporean filmmakers. If Singaporean filmmakers are making a mark on the global scene after premiering in SGIFF it will make the festival all that more important.”

“Diamond Dogs” is an action thriller where a man with nothing to lose is lured into a deadly underground social experiment. It stars Sunny Pang (“Headshot”).

After 15 years in advertising, Lim switched to directing film and television. His first short “Subtitle” won Best Director – Singapore Short Film at the SGIFF in 2005. His second short “Hello?” (2006) travelled to several festivals including Clermont-Ferrand, Slamdance and Bilboa. He has been working in the Singapore television industry ever since, directing English-language drama for Mediacorp Channel 5.

“After waiting forever for the right film project to come my way, last year I decided to just make my first debut feature with my own money and my own equipment,” says Lim. The film was due to be a male-centric romantic comedy. But Lim got talking to Pang and the idea changed to what is now “Diamond Dogs”.

Funding was initially a challenge. “Securing film funds in Singapore is real hard but securing film funds for specialized genres is well nigh impossible,” says Lim. “We did it indie style – super micro crew and short shoot schedule. We were soon stuck because the master breakdown started to cost almost double what we factored for and I nearly went back to just doing my romantic comedy. But I knew if I don’t do this now, I would have lost the opportunity to do this with Sunny, who was getting popular with our Malaysian and Indonesian filmmakers.” At this stage Lim reached out to local production powerhouse MM2 Entertainment and they came on board.

With MM2’s support Lim will now travel to international festivals and markets with a view to securing sales and distribution.