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


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30 SEP 2017, 7PM @ Hall 1, GV Grand 1 Kim Seng Promenade #03-29 Great World City Tickets by Invitation only.

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31 Aug - 3 Sep 2017

Art House, Old Parliament, Singapore.


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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Stitched




This is my first time acting in a horror film and also my first time having lines in the Thai language, which I had no prior knowledge of. Like the Chinese language, Thai is tonal and so the same phonetic in the wrong tone can mean something very different, often with hilarious results. Also, it was hard keeping up with  the gentle Thai soft and pampered ways of talking.

"Stitched" is a Temasek Polytechnic Year 2 project, written and directed by Paul Tang and brilliantly executed by his dedicated and talented team. It is about a father who thought that he could get away with a fling in Thailand, only to discover the horrors that had followed him thereafter. I won't spoil the film for you. Here it is...


We were very lucky to get this apartment for the shoot - so lived-in and complete with all the oriental charms and character - so unpretentious and so un-self-conscious. Other than some minor technical adjustments, what you see comes original with the house. I think the house itself is half the battle won.


An art director would have to spend a lot more time and money if we had a common run-off-the-mill pristine looking apartment in Singapore. Look at the details... the cuddly toy, the notices stuck on the wall, the left over Chinese New Year kitsch dangling... the details that captivate and tell so much.


We had to stand 'the ghost' on a pedestal, so that the lighting and camera angles turn out right. In film making terms, it is called "cheating".


I bet you won't see cuddly toys the same way you used to after this film. Oh ya, Paul and his gang bought three of them from Taobao. One of them got mistakenly loped into the rubbish chute, another got burned alive, and then there was one (left). Did you remember the name of the teddy bear? It is Luap, which is 'Paul' spelt backwards. There goes the saying that no matter what you write for a film, even if it is about a fish (in this case a Teddy), the story is about YOU.  lol

The scenes with the teddy bears were not much fun. The intestines stuffed inside were pig intestines and the smelled really foul. So foul I nearly puke and only held back because the camera was right below my mouth. The camera guy told me he was so impressed with my act that if I had thrown up, he would have stood still to capture the action!

Oh yes, if you think that I had done a convincing apprehensive look during the burning of the teddy bear, you were half right. The truth was that I was REALLY scared. Scared that the tin may explode with the added combustible fluid soaked in the teddy bear.


The burning of the teddy bear was the last act. It was done late in the night to avoid bystanders and busy-bodies, but even then, it didn't stop a few guys up in the blocks of flats upstairs ready with their cameras and binoculars, probably waiting to post us on social network.

We waited for more than an hour, then decided to go to a new location from those prying eyes. We then shot the burning scene swiftly and then quenching the flames, clearing the debris and making our run just as quickly.



See, even the toothbrushes seem to talk to you in this film. :)

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Dispher



This film is originally called "Shrink", which as its name implies, involves shrinking objects of sorts to fit into an evil plot. That's so much I am revealing for now, as I won't want to spoil your fun watching it later.

Perhaps in the quest for uniqueness, the producers have changed the title of the film to "Dispher" - as there is no such word in the English dictionary and also that there is no other film with such a name in the market.

Uniqueness is important in a name, but a film title should also represent the story, as that is how viewers will decide if they would want to invest the time and money to watch it.

Here is the film...




I applaud the production team for the results, particularly one with tight budget and time lines. Ironically, it was also a laid back and enjoyable experience, working in the more idyllic locations in Johore Bahru, Malaysia - away from the hustle and bustle of urban Singapore. It is healthy to do that once in a while in a place where the common people in the sleepy kampungs (villages) has time to stop and stare, and chat with you endlessly.


As this is kind of a horror flick, much of the scenes were done at night. The few day scenes were shot well indoors under ceiling fans or under the canopies of the generous rural vegetation, well protected from the harsh tropical sun. Not something folks from miserable cold weathers can understand, but you will if you have lived here long enough.


I particularly enjoyed working with my co-actor Daeng Amer. Daeng comes from 30 years of theatre experience, and he gives all he has as an actor while on set. One could easily be captivated to believe that he was indeed the deranged character in the script. He told me that while many actors like to choose the roles they like to play, he does the opposite by declaring that he is willing to accept any role directors offer him. As a result, he has landed on many diverse and challenging roles. And that is real growth to an actor! Something actors may like to rethink.


The village environment is such an antiquated charm for a Singaporean city slicker like myself. I need such getaways once in a while, and it is so nice on this instance that I am paid for doing so.


Here is the production team.






Patrick (the guy on the string) acted as the passenger that I picked up in the night cab, and literally so (picked up) after he is shrunk to size. For that to happen visually, video captures of some stunts were necessary in the green room, and subsequently, applying the digital special effects on the video complete the rest of the magic.

For those of you who do not know, videos of Patrick being hoisted were taken with a green background, in order for it to be replaced with the desired background subsequently.


Green is chosen because none of our body parts are of that colour, unless if you happened to be  one of the few that has green eyes. Not something to be jealous of in this situation. In fact, productions used to use blue screens, but found them  a problem with blue eyes.

Here are some of the special effects that required lots of patience and long iterative processes.



While this film is a short horror flick, I can't help reading more to it and relate some of the plots to what I observe in real life. For instance, about making people feel small and putting them in confined career ceiling - isn't this virtually the same as putting a bunch of shrunk people crying out in a locked box?

And passing the evil box to the next victim - isn't this what investing in properties or stocks are like? That is, to buy it cheap (or even at an outlandishly high price) as long as you can sell it in time to the next ignorant investor just before the market crash!  :)

Finally, one criticism of the film I have is that I find the ending a little abrupt. I don't know why. Is it because they didn't get enough footages for the ending or they did not plan it in the first place? Who knows?