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


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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Ilo Ilo

The movie "Ilo Ilo" is about the relationship between a Singaporean family of three and their newly arrived Filipino maid, Teresa, who has come like many other Filipino women in search of a better life.

I got into the audition for the film that day after acting in two other productions and was really tired. A lesson I learned - no auditions on production days!

Anthony was there at the casting himself, though the part that I was going for wasn't a big part. Due to my fatigue, I don't think I did well and so got only a small part - as a friend of the lead character Teck (played by Chen Tian Wen).

In the scene, I was to walk Teck into my boss' office to demonstrate how strong laminated glass could be, only to be proven otherwise when the boss smashed it easily against the table corner - well, that is what it  looks like on reel, but on set, it was something else.

As Murphy Law has it, what normally breaks easily wouldn't do so on set and so we had to pre-cut the glass with a cutter before we smash it.  We did a few takes, the earlier ones admittedly had the usual quirks, and so were unacceptable, that is, the usual camera blocking/framing problems, the extras being too passive,...etc. But in the take before the final one, while everything seemed fine to me, it wasn't for Anthony! He rejected it because he could spot the faint cut line on the glass when we smashed it. It was a wide shot and that moving faint fine line, barely two centimetres long, gone in one second was caught in the act!!!

I haven't seen the movie yet, but I bet it would be a beautiful one, with such attention for details and  unyielding patience.

I met Anthony early this year in a film premiere and he told me that it will take some time till August 2013, before "Ilo Ilo" can be screened in local cinemas. He admitted that it is longer than usual  and joked that doing it properly is often not a good way to make money. I don't know what came to my mind then, but I told him that while others make money doing fast stuff,  those that do it properly will win it big.

A few months later, "Ilo Ilo" the movie won the prestigious Camera d'Or prize at the Cannes Film Festival. The first Singaporean to win it and now Singapore's favourite son.

I will be going to the Premiere on the 24th August 2013 at the Marina Bay Sands Theatre.

More about the gala evening later. :)

Meanwhile, here are some interesting clips...

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Mediacorp TV Drama Mata Mata Ep 2, Behind the Scenes

Singaporeans call their policemen "mata mata" ('eyes' in Malay) and this TV series specifically depicts the formation of the first Singapore Woman Constabulary in the 1950. It was a time when 'the police wear shorts', as we call it, and this phrase now used to express that one shouldn't romanticize about the past too much and live life by the practice of today.

I acted in episode 2 as Officer William and trainer of the women mata mata. I allowed my voice to hit the high decibels too much, forgetting that I was on set, and unlike real life had to repeat the same commands and yells many times. So, just before my voice cracked, I paced myself not shout my lungs out too much.

Singapore is a linguistic oddity. The marching commands are in Malay, the National language, and the dialogues are in English. If it were in real life during those days, the Chinese girls would likely be speaking to each other in a cocktail of dialects like Hokkien, Cantonese, Teochew...etc. But that will be too confusing for many today I think.

Here is the official TV trailer:

And here is a short clip I captured secretly on my phone.

It was a fun production. There were quite a bit of improvised dialogue for my role, much of which was of Officer William's motivational speeches or announcements to the trainees. Off-reel, the action didn't stop as these young  actors have too much  spare  energy and needed release... You will see what I mean...

On my last day of shoot, the assistant director handed me a small gift left by one of the mata mata girls. It was two bars of chocolate and a note, saying that she recognised me from "Hentak Kaki", as Warrant Officer Lee Teck Hong and that she was delighted to work with me.  What a pleasant surprise!!!

Thank you so much! You made my day! :)

Do support Episode 2. Watch it on Mediacorp Channel 5, at 8pm tonight (Monday, 12th August 2013). At the time of writing, I haven't watch it myself.

To help you catch up, this is episode 1:

For those of you who have missed it yesterday, here is episode 2...