"Acting is the ability to live truthfully under imaginary circumstances." -- Sanford Meisner


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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Dinner - An Honour Singapore Short Film


This is an Honour Singapore Short Film called "Dinner" (2015), dedicated to all working fathers, particularly those who have difficulties expressing their love for their children. 

Honour Singapore is a non-profit organisation dedicated to promoting a culture of Honour and Honouring. For more about the organisation, click here.

To watch the film, CLICK HERE.

2015 was a traumatic year for me, as an excruciating pain that started from my spine, persisted and took over my body. I was living through electrifying pains every single moment without a break! Despite that, I tried to live as normally as I could, enduring every second that passed by slowly.  Not wanting to miss out on life and acting, I continued to go for shoots, rehearsals and auditions, keeping quiet about my ordeal from those around me. For more about my trauma and how I overcame my chronic pain,  click here.

I had to drag myself to go for the audition of this film. I remember I had two other auditions that day and this was the last in the evening. I was exhausted just enduring the pain through the day. Ironically, the director. Saraniyah Saranavan, then a final year student at Ngee Ann Polytechnic's Film Sound and Video Course told me later that the moment she saw me entering the audition room, she thought, "This is exactly the father character I need! He looked so tired!" lol

I am impressed that Saraniyah, an ethnic Singaporean Indian, directed the film in Mandarin, as I know of some directors  that would only direct films in their language of proficiency. In some ways, that made her focus more on how the actors deliver the emotions.

Generally the production went smoothly, apart from a supporting actor pulling out, or rather, failing to turn up. That meant that I had to work with a hastily installed actor plucked out from the crew, who was unfamiliar with acting, whom I had not  rehearsed with, whom had no time to learn his lines and whom had some difficulty getting into character (and understandably so). The rude shock is that the absentee actor is supposed to be a friend, or at least I thought he was! Clearly, he was not honoring his commitment! Honour! Honour! Where is the honour!

I have worked with Evalee on several other productions. One of them had her acting in a TV episode of a plastic surgery gone wrong, and the other, of her being a victim of a school bully. lol

I think she did well playing the rebellious daughter, particularly those awkward and subtle reconciliatory moments at the dinner table. Eventually, love finds each other.

Overall, I enjoyed the production. I even learned to cook from a professional chef, whom happened to be the director's father! :)

For other short films pertaining to 'dinner', click here.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Stray Roads

This is a Temasek 20/20 Project, written and directed by Royce Tan.

It is about old taxi drivers losing clients and going out of business with the presence of private hire cars competiting for passengers.

Technology is becoming ubiquitous and a disruption to traditional businesses. This is a reality that is already happening and will persist.

In the taxi business, even the private hire model like Uber, will be overtaken by the use of automatic driverless cars. Prototypes are already there and statistically, they are safer than human driven cars. 

Many other professions will also be disrupted by technologies, for instance:
  • Artificial intelligence software can diagnose cancer at 90% certainty compared to a human oncologist achieving only 50% certainty.
  • Real time credit ratings will tear current banking processes apart.
  • Genetic engineering

Information security will be a big issue. See Augmented Risks.

Here is the behind-the-scenes:

So where do we go from here? Today's young people will be tomorrow's 'old people'. How will they cope with yet newer technologies coming into their lives? Or will even the meaning of 'old people' be redefined?

For more short stories about how old dogs must learn new tricks to move on to new jobs, watch:

- Hentak Kaki

- Unemployed PMET Achieves

And another vision of the future... year 2022:


Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Reminiscence 忆 "yi"

"Reminiscence", directed by Lee Dong Sheng, a Puttnam School of Film, Lasalle College of Arts production.

Story about: 

A father and his autistic son's closure to a family tragedy that happened during his childhood. 

An autistic child's behaviour may appear odd from common perspectives, but beneath that awkward exterior lies the same truthfulness and love - like anyone of us.

In the last three years, there seems to be more films about autistic kids and old folks with dementia. I have acted in several already! A sign of the times.

Here is the film itself:

Here is the behind-the-scene clip I shot and edited together using my mobile phone, while waiting in-between-takes:


Last day of shoot. In an open field at Woodlands, Singapore. Midday sun hot!

For films about dementia in this blog, click here

Monday, April 2, 2018

Bloodline Blues

"Bloodline Blues"
Written, produced and directed by Michael Chua. 
Cinematography, choreography and editing by Elliot Chan.

This 23-minute action film has taken longer than we have expected to complete, as we were not under any commercial pressure and wanted to give it a good finish. There were some production obstacles in the beginning, but once they were weeded out, it never had been easier since. Such a bliss to have everyone else working together through those long hours amid the humid sticky Singapore environment to make things happen. All just for the sake of art and passion. 

"Bloodline Blues" is about a young heir to a English noble family escaping from his family obligations to be reconciled with his lover in Asia (in this case Singapore). 

The main characters Philip (the young heir) and his lover Cindy, have their origins as supporting characters in another of my feature length script "The Next Plot" (see the short version of it here). I wanted to peer into their lives and create stories to make them lead characters in their own right.  Just like we are all lead characters in our own life. So listen even to meek and quiet, as they too have their stories.

"Bloodline Blues" is inspired by the sinister friends that I have made, the stories that they have told me and my observations during my many years living in Australia, Asia, Africa and Europe. Power, money, ego and sex are common motivations for conflicts across cultures and ethnicities. I think this will go on, until we elevate ourselves to Nirvana or Heaven. Until then, there will always be stories to tell and lessons to learn.

Here is the trailer:

The poster shoot:


For other productions that I have written and directed:

The Next Plot

CPIB Video Competition: United Against Corruption

Friday, February 16, 2018

Caishen (财神)

"Caishen" (The God of Fortune, 财神), directed by Ding An, is a 20-episode web series in Singlish, shot in the year 2016 and released in time to greet the start of  the Lunar New Year in 2018.

Singlish is a version of English patois spoken in Singapore, often associated with the funny bits of a conversation and its informality. It is English spoken with Chinese speech structure, spiced with Chinese dialect, Malay and Tamil vocabulary.

This series is about the calamitous adventures of Roy Kee, a middle-aged anti-hero and gambling addict who is given a phone app that ironically can only make others, but not himself rich.

For non-Singaporean viewers, do not be put off by the quirky delivery style. Trust me it is quirky even for Singaporeans. That gives it the charm and uniqueness, amid the surreal nuggets of wisdom that you will find useful. They are usually interwoven into the recurring silly moments. Overall, it has this unexpected sarcastic undertones that cynics will  certainly love. I particularly like the deadpan moments.

Here is Episode 1 of the series [19 minutes]. After finishing it, click on the prompt to proceed to the next episode. If you are unable to link to the next episode at some point, then continue watching it via Youtube.


Wednesday, February 14, 2018

In Between Takes

Actors wait a lot in between takes. During that time, there is little we could do other than rehearsing our lines. Some actors read light novels and yet others get some work done on their laptop off their other full-time/part-time job. Mostly, time is wasted browsing Facebook and indulging in mindless chatter.

I tried exercising, but that will make me sweaty and ruin my makeup and costume.

Lately, I have started taking photos and videos of the crew while they are setting up. So they shoot me 'on-air', I shoot them 'off-air'- all just using my mobile phone to shoot and edit them into one-minute videos, on the same day - all in between takes.

Here are some of them...

4th Feb 2018 @ Changi, Singapore (lots of mosquitoes).
Production of "The Road", an original music video, directed by Lesha, music written by Yiam, with crew and cast supported by a bunch of students from Yale-NUS university.

I played the role of the father - an depressive one.

5 Feb 2018 @ a coffeeshop at 503 Jurong West Avenie 1, Singapore. 

"Silhouette", directed by Ashley Tan Han Wei, is a story about two boys looking for their missing father. A Puttnam School of Film, Lasalle College of the Arts, Singapore production. 

I am the missing father. :)

8 Feb 2018 @ 15 Kismis Road, Singapore.

"Stray Roads", directed by Royce Tan, is story of an elderly taxi driver who cannot cope up with technological advances and competition from private-car hire cabs.  A Ngee Ann Polytechnic student production.

I acted as the taxi association leader speaking out against the competition.

Incidentally, I found this online article: 

S’porean, 70, feels too old to study 298 pages for private hire driver license tests

Shooting and editing on 'rapid-fire' is addictive. I find myself doing more and more of it. I will post them here when they are done.

For more photos and videos, follow me on 
INSTAGRAM: jupilier.

Have a Happy Lunar New Year!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

360 VR

My first shoot in 2018 - a 360 degree Virtual Reality (360 VR) government training video. After "action" was shouted out, everyone in the crew had to literally run into hiding, so that they will not be captured by the camera. The camera captures everything around it 360 degrees. There is no "behind the camera" and "framing of shots" in 360VR, a departure from conventional video production.

More about 360 VR
360 VR was the buzzword at the recent Asian TV Forum 2017.  An extension of VR is AR (Augmented Reality) - a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are "augmented" by computer-generated perceptual information. 
If we combine VR, AR and AI (Artificial Intelligence), they bring enhanced and intelligent experiences to the user. These immersive technologies will enable businesses to market their products closer to reality online. A VR producer told me that we will see many VR videos made this year, not just for games but for various commercial and industrial applications. In fact, it is estimated that 85% of them will not be games.
While the budgets in the market for documentaries are dwindling, more money is being poured into interactive immersive content.
There are multiple experiential engagements that can be facilitated by VR, like:
  • Offshore oil rig scenario videos that can be used for training;
  • Action genre movies where the viewers' movements to follow the action sequences forms part of the excitement and experience.
  • Creating the inner world of mental disorders, to enhance the understanding of the disorders for the medical profession and laypersons.
  • Field Journalism.

What about storyboarding?
Traditionally, we are used to storyboard in frames. However, if you ask a four year old if he think in frames, he is going tell you the story purely, and naively so, from his perspective.
Similarly, in VR we define the storyboard relative to the audience, like user-centred design; and not by objects relative to frame.
This approach should come naturally to practitioners of user-centered design, but may feel foreign to those used to directing audience attention.
Instead of controlling what the audience sees in VR, we work with probabilistic areas of user attention based on ergonomic data.
For more about VR storyboarding, click here.
Six years ago, I was in a National Library Board (Singapore) corporate video shot from a Point of View (POV) perspective. It was a first step in VR, but using only one camera (instead of four cameras for 360).
This was how it looked like: