Sunday, January 18, 2009

A Short Film in Sarawak... =)

I've made 16 resolutions this year I intended to keep. Two of them are...

1) I will update this blog twice weekly.I know I've said this many times before but well I am keeping to my word this time.I didn't blog for ten days because of only one reason, I wanted to hold Gaza high for at least a week.I hope some of you have helped. I write this blog for two reason, one it lets me reflect on my life. Two I love comments and interaction because don't we all? so please do help me tell friends and leave comments.I in turn will try to fill this blog with enjoyable writings.
2)I will make one short film every month.

I am a filmmaker and filmmaking should be an enjoyable thing as much as my once every month I will make a short film, just for the sake of telling a story through film. I am glad so far this month...I've hit this resolution too.

On my holiday home in Kuching, I was at first lazy and how alot of people are in their hometown. But then I remembered my resolution. I decided to drive around town in search of a story. As I drove through the Batu Lintang Government Quarters, I remembered how I told myself I must come make a short film here because it is being demolished and cleared for new development. Why? Because it is old kuching...something I see everyday on my bus home from school. It's also where my grandfather once stayed and where my father spent part of his childhood. I want to remember it.

I have my for the story. A old man talks to his son and reconciles with his own faults...I am done again. Now here's the hard part. Getting started on production and pulling things together. Scheduling a realistic shoot strategy, getting the neccesary actors, getting the equipment required and getting the permission to shoot at the location. Kuching has been hit by a wet spell. It's been raining almost 24 hours a day for the whole while I've been back!

So yeah, it's harder to get around in the rain not to mention shooting. It's also harder to even get up in the morning when it's so cold and comfortable under a blanket! But I kept telling myself to just get up and do it. So I did. With a phonecall to a friend David Ngui. "Friend...I want to make a short film...can you help me...can you maybe act for me? It's an impromptu thingy and I am only paying a very small angpow." He said "yes" I made another call to an old friend...Rambo. He said "yes, yes" A small momentum started...before long...a list start getting crossed out...yes there were no along the ways but well...if there is a no I just told myself...find another way...come on just get going...the hardest part of getting the old man...two relatives rejected me also met with a deceivingly simple solution...I walked into an old folk club (a bare 1 km from my house) and found one.

Everything together I was tired but it's time to go...and so I just tell myself, make the film! And I just went and went and went...the day before shoot...I was both tired and excited. But well I was happy.It's going to happen.
On the morning of the shoot - 16th January 2009. I had 2 hours sleep but I told myself at 5 am. Wake up and go give praise to God. I attended morning mass at Carmelite Chapel. Then it started with fetching the actors.My brother helped me with another car.

First was a graveyard. I was in the car, even at the last minute I had doubts and was fighting them...we had umbrella and ponchos. Don't care just do...we were a lean group.One camera. one mike. three assist(one of whom is also an actor) two actors. Position actors. Rain was everywhere. We tried to make do as best...wiping camera and dodging around tombstone with as much respect... grandfather. *Flashback a day earlier* My grandfather doesn't or anyone to drive his car...a bummer as I wanted his mini in the shoot. I made a compromise and asked him to please drive it to location as I accompany him and we'll just shoot a static car...He agreed.

Everybody got to Batu Lintang.On the location, a van I wanted removed was still there.Owner told me he couldn't removed it as the battery was dead. I shout for jumper cables and as my good friends tried to start the van I tried to talk to actors and my grandfather in successsion to keep them happy. I also juggled the script in my head.

Half an hour, van still won't start. pushing time...not easy in the mud but well...just do it right?Got rid of van.Start shoot bus assuring kung kung no damage will be done to his into the car. The two new actors were stiff but hey I can't job as director to find their potential...I spoke to them gently. I told them not to act as they have been acting for only a day and would suck at it...but as they have been humans for 27 and 62 years respectively I told them to just be human...they got a tad bit better. In my head I was trying to solve another matter.My whole idea was to be dialogue based and not intensive on blocking...but my actors didn't have the capacity to take the film on dialogue alone. Had to give them more actions...rethink blocking.
All this while...the rain started and stop...started and stop. The process was now like...shoot shoot shoot...a shout RAIN!...clear clear run run...wait wait wait...resetup and shoot again. Oh...and if you look carefully above there's a little dog chasing me...he was a fun and added a jovial joy to the shoot but oh boy, was he annoying when he shook tripods.He is also teething and like to chew...especially on my shins. But it's okay...I anticipated the work scenario early, okay maybe not quite the dog but I gave ample time to executing what is really a very simple script and was okay.
The family of the house were very nice...and I can say the shoot has its problem but went pretty well. Here's the lady of the house cheering me on!!!

We ended the day shoot at 4pm...and we sent our two actors back before going to hui sing for a drink and chill session. Next scene at 8pm. After the drink, I slept in the car a bare 20 minutes before waking up to entertain David and kept my own momentum going checking the chickens needed for tonite shoot etc. 2 more scenes... come on...i can do this...

8pm came.We reassembled in Batu Lintang. It's dark and soggy...but again "let's do it!" The scene was of a father rescuing his chickens in a heavy downpour as his son looks on. Me and Aaron discussed lighting setup. Though I was technically D.O.P. it was great help having another D.O.P. around to just discuss ideas and bounce possible lighting. We had one 1k. Awhile of waiting...and then it was a crazy shot that made the entire crew laugh heartily as water poured from a pipe and my actor was drenched to his underwear holding a chicken. Shot accomplished.

Move on to Sekama.Last shot...quite relaxed now...but when I arrived at Sekama coffee shop...there were quite a number of it was an operating coffee shop. I was worried Rambo (my actor) will freeze up. I took a while to think things brother even suggested if I don't like the scenario shoot another day. I said give me five minutes...then I decided to try anyway. I put up the lights...prep the sound. Rambo was brilliant. The worry was for nothing...

Now as I sit here and reflect writing this blog...I smile and am happy I did this small film. I enjoyed the time with my friends with many laugther and that mysterious bonding...I made a film that documented a location important in my family history and I basically just started my year well fulfilling my resolution by simply just starting...oh...and one last fact...I asked every of my friend on this film or do you want your small token or do you want to send it to mercy malaysia to help the people of Gaza? Everyone is giving to Gaza. Am sending the cheque next friday. =)

To end off...this short film entitled Pao(chinese for BROKEN) is my first short film in Sarawak in almost ten years! Thanks to everyone who did it with me!


Alice Teh said...

Looks like fun! Hope to see your mini film every month! :D

rambochai said...

thats a really
crazy - 'fast movie' making man....

no matter how people say about it -
at least we make it out ---

and now is the moment waiting for the film to be produce- -- -

cheers ----

may god bless you ~

Trina said...

1) I still have not watched A Note of Love.

2) I want to watch this, and every month's short film.

3) What's happening for February's? ;)

4) I'm leaving on Feb 16.

Greg Wee said...

Woohoo! My boom mike's in the picture!

Anonymous said...

Batu Lintang Government Quarters brings back some memories. Used to bike there for football with the Indian's every evening, rain or shine. That was a lifetime ago but still good times!

Cmate said...

Looks like you always have fun when i leave... just the way paths in life goes I supposed.

Have fun filming!



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Living Life to the full...I hope to live by the principle that success doesn't mean making a tonne of money though I am blessed that i do make a decent sum...but success equates to appreciateing all the God given wonder this world has to offer before my time is up...