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


Search This Blog


Enter Your Email to Follow:

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Unlucky Plaza





Producer/Director/Writer - Ken Kwek

About:
Father. Restaurateur. Hostage-taker. How one man's financial woes spiral into a harrowing crisis that captivated the world.

Genre: Drama













I am lucky to be invited to the private screening of "Unlucky Plaza" for the cast and crew, at The Projector. It is also the first movie to be screened at the 25th Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF) 2014. The Projector is  a recently renovated cinema for independent films, at Golden Mile, Singapore.

The title of the movie, "Unlucky Plaza", is  a cheeky snide at Lucky Plaza, a mall frequented by Filippinos living in Singapore. The "Unlucky" bit is also a hint of the lead character's calamitous journey as a migrant, father and businessman, played convincingly by Epy Quizon, a Fillipino actor, based in Manila.

Among some of the director Ken Kwek's work is "Sex.Violence.Family Values", an anthology of short films, which was banned by the Singapore and Malaysian governments in 2012. It was later allowed to release in Singapore and sold-out to packed audience.

The screenplay of "Unlucky Plaza", started with the portrayal of individual characters: of the migrant filippino father and his son; of the Singaporean motivational get-rich-quick speaker and his frustrated and adulterous wife; of the pastor who has sinned and fallen prey to the seductress; and of the gangster from China who comes chasing after his money. I was so mesmerised with each of the quirky sub-plots that I did not expect a crisis looming in the background and their paths to cross and culminate in a kidnapping-hostage situation. (I had no idea what the film is about at all before I entered the cinema hall.)

I like the sound and camera work, particularly the smooth flow of steadicam work gliding up the stairs exhibiting the opulence of the bungalow with a swimming pool, two maids and a lavish interior.

While the movie has many funny bits that made me laughed, I cannot help empathising with the stories of migrant workers from developing countries and their plight striking out a living in a foreign country.
"Unlucky Plaza"  convinced me that there are more than one way to make a film that can sell in Singapore and Malaysia, without having to resort to highly localised slapstick and coarse comedy.

I would highly recommend you to watch the movie.







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?



Monday, October 20, 2014

The Problem With ‘Less Is More’ and Other Acting Instructions



This is a useful article written by Paul Barry, an L.A.-based Australian acting teacher, that  I read on Backstage.com. Reproduced here with permission. 


As a director, my job is to collaborate with actors in guiding the audiences’ attention to what’s important, and away from distractions that may obscure the story. It is not to teach them to act.
As a teacher, my job is to create self-sufficient performers, capable of working with directors who may not know how to adhere to my first point. It is not to direct them.

The two jobs are quite different, but the common denominator of all great teachers and directors is their ability to use an acting vocabulary that is doable

Aphorisms such as “less is more,” “just feel it,” “sit back into it,” and “really connect” do nothing to help you become self-sufficient. Less what is more what? At best, such generalities foster dependence on the apparently omniscient instruction-giver, and at worst cause distrust in all future instructors’ advice, because such suggestions—without the fortification of reliable technique—are ultimately indefinable and therefore unplayable.

Good acting teachers will help you understand the mechanics of translating generalized direction into specific, doable action, and good directors will speak only in such terms. Anything else, though often well intentioned, perpetuates the myth that acting is probably an unlearnable art; that it is mystical, ephemeral, and can only be mastered through closing one’s eyes, rolling the dice, and praying not to land snake eyes.

Aside from being a fundamentally flawed strategy, this line of thinking disempowers all who see it as normal.

Unproven dicta, such as “just listen,” “build the chemistry” and “it’s all in the eyes” are additional clich├ęs eroding actors’ common sense understanding that acting is not a guessing game, that it should be doable, and that doing is everything. None of the above suggestions can be done, and certainly not to a point where everyone would agree on the actual result. Even listening has sub-considerations, such as “What do you want?” “What is your opinion of what you just heard in that moment?” and “Are you getting closer to/further away from your objective as a result?” Reactions and feelings in the moment are the reflexive result of things being done by us, and done to us.

Doing is everything.

It is very easy to hear sounds and make facial expressions indicating that you have been affected, but knowing what you want, and having opinions of everything you hear makes listening more real for your scene partner, more engaging to the audience, and of paramount importance, more doable by you.   

A great director may inadvertently teach you a tremendous amount about acting. A great teacher may inadvertently give you a stellar direction in a scene. But it is incumbent upon neither to do the other person’s job whilst attempting to do their own. The fact that many teachers and directors are confused on this point is evident in much of the advice offered to actors these days, from both fields.

The terrific advice of Sanford Meisner, that acting is “living truthfully in imaginary circumstances” is useless without the specific exercises he taught to ensure that such a generalization could actually produce the “truth” he so passionately advocated. Stanislavsky’s assertion that, “The person you are is a thousand times more interesting than the best actor you could ever hope to be,” is icing on the cake of his “system” designed to help you do, through techniques such as objectives, given circumstances, and sense memory. David Mamet and William H. Macy’s method of script analysis though Practical Aesthetics repeatedly emphasizes viewing the work stoically and finding the achievable action in order to provide a foundation for Mamet’s advice in “True and False” to “invent nothing, deny nothing, speak up, stand up, stay out of school,” which would otherwise be a catchy quotable sound bite, but ultimately hollow, useless advice.

Declan Donnellan in “The Actor and the Target” coined the term “unuseful truths,” and suggested that when viewed as the garnish rather than the meal, there is nothing wrong with hearing, or even repeating them. Treating such truisms as some kind of panacea for what ails your acting though is incredibly dangerous, since each one seems to promise that its pat and pithy structure holds a deeper meaning. Yet with no clear instruction on how to actually enact them, we are left worse off than we were before they entered our ear. Much like someone advising that, “Happiness is simply a matter of being true to oneself,” it draws our attention to an ideal we now have no idea how to personally attain, due to the advice’s lack of specifics.

The antidote to such deceptive sound bites in acting is the kind of specific instruction one can easily understand, successfully interpret, and finally, competently do.

Next time you hear a teacher or director describe acting in generalized terms, make it easy on yourself and ask instead: “What am I doing?” If you can’t say it, you’re certainly not doing it. The problem is not that you haven’t “dropped it in,” “kicked it up a notch,” or “really opened up.” The problem is that you don’t know what to do.

Work out what to do, and then do it.  Doing is everything.

Like this advice? Read more from our Backstage Experts!
Paul Barry is an L.A.-based Australian acting teacher and Backstage Expert. For more information, check out Barry’s full bio!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Unite Against Corruption

Producer/Director: Michael Chua, Script: Michael Chua/Phil Gruber, DOP: Mark Song.


Our entry for CPIB's (Corrupt Practice Investigation Bureau Singapore) "Unite Against Corruption" Video Competition has won the Merit Award for the Open category. (Shouldn't it be called the "Meritorious Award"?)

Our main message is that if corruption goes unchecked,  ultimately everyone gets screwed. The challenge was to have the video suggestive enough and yet not judgmental or crude.  I think we got the balance just about right to get the message through.

This is the first video I have produced, directed, scripted and acted in. All in one go!!! :) 

Production went quite smoothly. We had difficulty getting a pair of handcuffs, as it is illegal to possess one in Singapore, so we made do with a toy version, but sand papered the gloss down to make it look metallic and real. The Lady-In-Red scene was captured in Joo Chiat, amid the sleazy bars and Vietnamese streetwalkers, to some degree of awkwardness. lol. But all in the name of fighting corruption and for a good cause!! :)

The prize presentation will be held on Saturday, 13 December 2014 during CPIB’s Roadshow at HDB Hub Mall.

Help us win the Viewer’s Choice Category !!!!!!!

Go to CPIB's Youtube channel and 'Like' our video, click here.

(VOTING STARTS ON THE 9TH SEPTEMBER 2014)

Thanks.



Friday, August 29, 2014

Penghulu

Utter 2013. Penghulu. Adapted from Pak Suleh (from Penghulu) by Suratman Markasan. Director: Lilian Wang.


This was my first gig in Malay, and since then, I had done other such roles in several short films, including one for Utter 2014.

Thankfully, I still remember enough of the language to plod my way with in Malay. My earliest encounter with the language was when I was four years old, when I watched "Bahasa Kenbangsaan" (National Language) on TV, just before the cartoon telecast. In my school days, everyone had to study Malay - our National Language (and still is)! :) Back then, Chinese people mostly spoke Malay to the other races and among themselves, they spoke their own Southern Chinese dialects of Teochew, Hokkien, Cantonese, Hakka, Hainanese,... etc. Only the folks in Chinese medium schools spoke Mandarin, and then, in its uncorrupted form! 

I am glad to have lived through the era of linguistic diversity in Singapore. There was more character and the different languages curiously relay emotions specific to each ethnic group.

Then in the late 70s, there were grand efforts by the government to standardise the spoken language among the Chinese to Mandarin; while English rapidly moved to centre stage. By 1980, Malay was relegated to be spoken mostly among the Malays.

Today, young Chinese speaks only Mandarin and English (well kinda, more so Singlish). Japanese, Korean and other Asian language dramas are allowed on TV, but not Chinese dialect dramas. Mandarin is now officially my 'mother tongue', though my mother doesn't speak a word of Mandarin. Meanwhile people from China now purportedly speak better mother tongue than I do in my mother country Singapore. Isn't it funny?! lol




The 1970s was also the era when many Singaporeans were evicted from their kampong dwellings of attap huts and patchy agricultural subsistence, to (in comparison) sterile government built apartments that now dots the Singapore skyline. Those were major changes to move from literally living on the ground to living in suspended concrete dwellings in the sky.

"Penghulu" depicts such maladjustments of a village chief, who laments the change and the lost of his familiar casual and happier days in the village. I like the screenplay very much as it captured the slow soothing life of the Penghulu and contrasts it to his mundane and sedate life in the modern apartment.

Nostalgia is sweet, however be careful... as it can also rob us of our present.


Here is the trailer for this year's Singapore Writer's Festival...



If you like to watch some of my Hokkien short films, click here.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Afterimages


Production company: Mythopolis Pictures. Producer: Genevieve Woo. Director: Tony Kern.


















"Afterimages"  is one of the few Singapore-made horror movies screening this year. 
It will premiere on the 10th of September 2014 in Singapore - just after the Chinese Seventh Month for the Hungry Ghosts.  

I haven't watched them yet, but will do so on the 10th.




Quiz:
A FREE pair of tickets will be given to whoever answers ALL the following 5 questions correctly AND register his/her email address (near the top of page of this blog).

[1] How many 'short stories from Hell' are there in "Afterimages"?

[2] When will "Afterimages" be screened to the public?

[3] Name the famous radio DJ who is in the movie?

[4] Which is the other horror movie Tony Kern directed? 

[5] Which floor did the female character in the movie jumped down from?

EMAIL YOUR ANSWERS, YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS & MOBILE PHONE NUMBER TO: mysticmichael@gmail.com

This quiz is only opened to people based in Singapore or can make it to the Premiere.

Date: 10th SEP 2014
Time: 9PM
Place: Cathay Cinema, Handy Road, Singapore.
 
There are only 3 pairs of tickets up for grabs. Hurry!

CLOSING DATE FOR QUIZ: 7TH SEPTEMBER 2014.




For more information about the movie, click here.






Monday, August 11, 2014

Jasmine

This is a short story of a taxi driver uncle and his tipsy girlfriend from China, heading for the local "mama shop"; thereafter giving the mama a difficult time and making a mess of his place.

"Mama shops" are the little Indian neighbourhood convenient stalls commonly found in Singapore. "Mama" means 'uncle' in Tamil.

This is a fun 4-minute video, directed by Dylan Tan and Caleb Lee as the DP.

The shop has character, complete with real Indian flower garlands. Nothing there were film props! :)


As luck had it, while we were filming, there was another show going on nearby - a getai - a street concert staged during the Chinese Seventh Month Hungry Ghost Festival. Isn't the cultural diversity wonderful in Singapore? :)

Capturing clean sound was hell though! 



And here is everyone in the team...



I will post the finished works here when it is available. Watch this space. Or you can follow this blog by email and you will be informed of any updates.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Kopi-O Kosong

This a film made under Singapore's Cine65 Mentorship Programme 2014, where four scripts are chosen among many applications. Each group of students is to produce a film that expresses the Singaporean identity, mentored by an industry veteran.

Kopi-O Kosong is a Singaporean term for Black Coffee without milk and sugar. There are plenty of variations as to how you want your coffee to be in Singapore. It is quite involved and complicated and would require a separate post altogether.

Here is the short film...






Thursday, June 26, 2014

My Wine Kaki This Week




Kaki means 'leg' in Malay. However, "Wine Kaki" does not mean 'Wine Leg', but 'Wine Buddy'. Similarly, "Hentak Kaki" does not mean 'Shock Leg', but about one 'hitting the glass ceiling'. Wine making is my other love next to acting and film making. :)

This week, I share my grape wine with my friend Gillian Tan at Tiong Bahru, after the shoot for the Singapore Writer's Festival's "Tin Kosong", directed by Saniff Olek.








Here's a trailer of Utter 2014, which "Tin Kosong" is part of.



Watch this space for the next edition of "My Wine Kaki This Week!"


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Speak Good English Movement

My blog post "Slang, Lingo and Colloquialism" has got me invited to the launch of the "Speak Good English Movement" on the 28th May 2014. The Movement, probably unique to Singapore, emphasizes the use of proper standard English. 

Singapore is a country comprising many races, languages and dialects. When I was a kid, I spoke mostly Chinese dialects, no Mandarin and some English and Malay. Fast forward forty years and the government had since rationalised the Chinese language to mean Mandarin and the common language among all races to be English. However, given the interesting cocktail of languages spoken locally, English as it is spoken soon slipped sloppily into Singlish. And now Singlish has taken into a life on its own and by its current form has already become mostly unintelligible to foreigners. This is what got the government worried and hence, the Movement.


I have lived and worked in Europe, Africa, Australia and different parts of Asia. For me then, it was essential to speak a form of English that is understood by everyone - sometimes I even slow down and pick simpler words when I communicate with non-native speakers.

However, when it comes to films, the debate is not just whether it should merely communicate with the  audience, but also portray the culture as it is - untainted.

The argument is whether standard English, or for that matter, standard Mandarin, or any other standard languages ought to be used instead of their localised forms. Recently, a seasoned film maker told me that any film made strictly in any standard language will not be watched by many people because nobody speaks purely in any standard language in real life. He cited that even Hollywood films do not speak standard English, but their own form including many slangs and colloquialisms.

I do agree, but I think Hollywood also knows that if they do go overboard with their slangs and colloquialisms, then they are also likely to lose their audience. So I suspect that they do choose their words carefully to portray the local culture but also to make sure that they are intelligible to non-native speakers.

I guess the secret lies in the balance. That is, what language subsets should I use such that I project the local culture while I make the film understood by the critical mass. And it will be a bonus, if the lingo chosen, though not universal, would sound catchy and smooth enough to start a new trend.





Monday, May 19, 2014

Film Review - Filial Party



I managed to squeeze some time out today to watch "Filial Party", as I have promised Boris Boo, the director, that I will do so.

I was suitably entertained by the well researched local stories that I think the heartlanders and common people in Singapore would relate very well to. They are little stories surrounding parents, children's emotional baggage of their parents passed and living, money, materialism, middle-age joblessness, old age senility, extra-marital affairs... etc.  All told through big comedy expressions popular in Malaysia and Singapore.

In think Boris' jokes are a little more subtle and less slapstick as those of Jack Neo, a local film maker who has consistently scored at the box office.  I like the dialogue of mixed languages of English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Hokkien, Malay and Tamil - that offers the feel of street level Singapore. However, I wonder if those outside Malaysia and Singapore would be able to follow the dialogue or would find the linguistic cocktail amusing enough to embrace. For more about the use of standard language or otherwise, click here.

In short, the story is about a reality show that requires its participants to demonstrate their filial piety to their parents - in the process going through the sub-plots of sob stories and dilemmas - many of which question the moral fabric of today's society.

Lastly, like many other local productions, product placements are strong in this movie and one can certainly be forgiven for thinking of it as a Prudential Show at some point. A bit of subtlety would have been helpful, as research shows that subliminal advertising is way more effective. Perhaps the sponsors did not see it that way.

Overall, I think the movie is much better than what was said in the Straits Times film review. I like my film to both entertain and inspire, and that I think "Filial Party" has achieved!

How many star rating?
I don't know. I never believed in stars.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Slangs, Lingo and Colloquialism





Recently, I sent a letter to the Straits Times Life, about the use of standard English in films. The letter, edited for brevity, is published as follows:



As in most articles edited for brevity, some interesting details are lost. So, here you are... the original letter:

Dear Sir/Madam

I refer to the letter by Mr Yeoh Teng Kwong, of the above-mentioned reference.

I agree with Mr John Lui about promoting local music and films. I also agree with Mr Yeoh about producing art with universal appeal and standard English to reach a wider audience.

I know this because I have acted in the lead role of two short films that have gone viral on the Internet.

The first one "Hentak Kaki", about an army Warrant Officer hitting his glass ceiling due to his knee injury, was scripted in a typical Singapore Armed Forces lingo. It speaks to all male Singaporeans instantly and went viral as they can identify deeply with every word spoken. It has a combined online hit rate about 200,000 hits. This is a good score considering that local  full feature film trailers with a significant marketing budget barely hit 50,000 hits. However, I suspect that because of the very localised lingo, the film did not travel much beyond Malaysia and Singapore, even though the film expresses issues that are common in any army in the world.

The other short film that has gone viral is "Gift", which is a story about a misunderstood father and his disgruntled son. This film has a combined online hit rate of about 5 million hits and counting. Besides South East Asia, USA and Europe, the film has gone viral in far away and exotic places like Brazil, Ukraine, Russia, Croatia,...etc. Moreover, we are also getting a spontaneous response from audience from all over the world volunteering to translate the subtitles into their native languages as they want to make the film more accessible to a yet wider audience. Incidentally, the film uses standard English. :)

"Gift" is so successful that I am now getting calls to give talks in schools, to act in foreign feature films and from investors who want to produce feature films of a similar story line between a father and his son.

Below are the links to the two films, so that you can experience them for yourself.

"Hentak Kaki"
http://youtu.be/TukUlXU6P84

"Gift"
http://youtu.be/1DUYlHZsZfc

Further, another short film worth studying would be "Detour", which I acted in and had won a handsome swoop of four categories for the Best Director, Best Script, Best Performance and Best Fiction awards at the recent 5th Singapore Short Film Awards 2014. The film uses Hokkien, with one or two English words. The full film is not online yet as it is making its rounds in the film festival circuits, but a trailer is available at:

http://youtu.be/XvgMSX5XH90

I think films with universal values travel, but films with mainstream languages travel further. Let's see. The jury is still out there.

Michael Chua



Sunday, March 2, 2014

5th Singapore Short Film Awards 2014 - "Detour"



"Detour" won the Best Fiction, Best Director, Best Performance (Michael Chua, Presley Lim & Yolby Low) and Best Script awards in the 5th Singapore Short Film Awards 2014.

Written/Directed by Michael Kam
Produced by Mabelyn Ow
Shot by Amandi Wong
Edited by Alicia Lim 



The judges felt that the film stands out for Iits economy of dialogue, the development and movement of the scenes, and the wonderful acting.  They also said that the director had led the development of the story and cast very well particularly in a sensitive topic like this one involving children.

For more about "Detour", click here.

The list of the other winners should probably be up soon at The Substation's website (www.substation.org).

This is my second time winning the Best Performance Award.

The other one was in the 3rd Singapore Short Film Awards 2012, via the short film "Hentak Kaki". See here

When the results was announced, I was a little surprised at winning the Best Performance this time round, as there were a few other nominees whom I felt had delivered their role very well.

Thinking it through later, I suspect that it was probably the chemistry among the three of us in the cast that made us win.
So directors out there, do look out for the chemistry among your actors. It was also a major factor how  "Hentak Kaki" won.








Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Michael Chua Evening of Short Films

I would like to thank Lasalle School of the Arts; James Khoo from Pangolin Films; Osman from Hijrah Films; Chef Jeremy Cheok; Harvaraj from Lion City Film Studios; Marrie and the Reel Frenz;  the film producers and directors who are so generous to allow me to screen their films; and most of all the seventy or more of you whom had taken time to attend the event on a Saturday evening.

I have received very positive feedback about the films and some are already asking for another screening. I will organise another one, probably in six months' time, as I am doing all these amid my productions, scripts and shoots. It also takes time to request for the films and the  permission to screen, converting them to mp4, testing them out in the theatre, getting the theatre itself, organising the catering, publicity and registration. 

Some of the comments received were:

"Awesome acting!! 2 thumbs up!! Thanks for organizing ."  
--- Calvin Huang

"Good acting from the cast and the scripts explored a spectrum of society issues. Thought-provoking, touching and insightful. Thank you very much to Michael and all the assistants who helped organise and make yesterday's screening a success!" 
--- Emily Woo









"Generally well organized, get to see film clips completely different from the cookie cutter style comercial films. Displays how budget films attempts to wow audiences with subtle messages that address bigger issues in life"
--- Larry Lim


"I really enjoyed the short films - interesting, touching, entertaining.....Looking forward to the next screening. Thk u Michael for organising it."
--- Sally Teo

"It was a wonderful evening with a mix of talent and art from the film fraternity accompanied by the actor himself. Great work and an even humble and down to earth person. Michael truly was the star of the evening:). FABULOUS WORK! ! Looking forward to the next meet up."
--- Sankeshwari Deo

There is a French man in the audience who said that he was surprised that there are such entertaining and inspiring films made in Singapore, particularly so as he didn't think that there is a film industry here.

The next screening will likely be a smaller one with a more selective audience, according to their interest in films and their being punctual. Some of the very late comers in this screening will be banned. In the next screening I will lock the door when the screening start. Those who registered and did not turn up this time will also be banned.  You have been warned.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------




Finally, I got my act together to choose eleven short films out of the 150plus productions I have been in over the last three years. Then I had them converted to mp4 format and tested out. Alas...

This wil be a once in a long while screening of the short films I have acted in. This screening has been requested by many of my friends, but something which I have procrastinated for about two years. So here you are...

This event is FREE, but registration is necessary. RSVP here and ALSO email your name, email address and mobile phone number to jupilier1@gmail.com .

Seats are very limited, so please change your RSVP well ahead of time if you cannot turn up, so that we can re-allocate them to others. Those who fail to do so will be banned from future screenings.

Date: 15 February 2014 (Sat)
Time: 4.30pm to 8pm

Venue:
Room F208, Lasalle College of the Arts,  
1 McNally Street, Singapore.
187940

Registration will start at 4.30pm
Screening will start at 5pm.
Q&A at 6.45pm.

Mix and mingle after that.
Light snacks, tea and cold drinks will be served.
Courtesy of Lion City Film Studios and my banker brother. The food will be catered by my good friend Chef Jeremy Cheok, whom I befriended during the Secret Supper Club days.


LIST OF FILMS


We only have time to screen eleven films as that will already take close to 90 minutes.
For more write-ups about some of the films and others, please refer to other articles in this blog.

1. Dinner


Directed by Heng Le, Winner of Open Category, 180 Short Film Competition 2013, organised by Singapore Media Academy.
Actors: Michael Chua, Kelly Lim and Ezekiel Chee.

A security guard is a father and also like a superman to his son. (In Mandarin, 2 mins 18 secs)

 

2. Godverdomme Coffee
 

Directed by Eric Eloffson. 
Actors: Michael Chua & Sjors Wijers.

A Dutchman's last wish to have his cup of coffee before death row. (In English, 9 mins 47 secs)

 


3. Change


Directed by Leon Tai. 
Actors: Michael Chua, Karen Tan & Horsey Hui. 
A beggar is a beggar until he comes in handy in times of need. (In English, 8 mins)

 



4. Last Wish
 


Directed by Jeah Goh. Actor: Michael Chua & Sean Goh. 

About the final reconciliation of father and son.(In Mandarin, 10 mins)

 





5. Detour

 
Oirected by Michael Kam. Nominated in 4 categories of the 5th Singapore Short Film Awards - Best Fiction, Best Director, Best Performance (Michael Chua, Presley Lim & Yolby Low) and Best Script. Screening in competition at the 13th Mumbai International Film Festival for Documentary, Short & Animation Films over in India from 3 to 9 Feb '14.

On a hot sunny afternoon, a father and two restless siblings stuck in a traffic jam took a detour that leads to a misfortune that the family struggles to come to grips with... For more details, click here. (In Hokkien, 7 mins 22 secs)

6. Anniversary


Directed by Joseph Hsu. 
Actors: Michael Chua & Aki Masabayashi.
  
On a visit to the cemetery, a man catches a girl stealing flowers he laid on his wife's tomb. For more details, click here. (Silent, 4 mins 19 secs)

 

 
7. Stitched


Directed by Paul Tang. 
Actors: Michael Chua, Dora Teo & Phumtida Kiatthat. 
Horror befalls a father and his daughter after the former deserted his pregnant girlfriend in Thailand.(In Mandarin and Thai, 10 mins)

 



8. Reunion
 

Directed by Joseph Hsu. Grand Prize (Student Category) 1st Taiwan Weifilm Festival (2013).
Actors: Kelly Lim, Low Heng Joo, Jiayi Wang & Michael Chua

A family is compelled to an awkward revelation during a Chinese New Year Reunion dinner... (In Mandarin, Hokkien and English, 10 mins)

 

9. Gift



Directed by Daniel Yam. 
Actors: Jim Koh, Jon Tay, Michael Chua, Yoro Tan Yuan Chong. A touching story about a karunguni man, exemplary father and generous soul...For more details, click here. (In English, 7 mins 32 secs)

 

  
10. Hentak Kaki


Directed by James Khoo. Winner of Silver Screen Award (Short Films) at the 24th Singapore International Film Festival (2011).

Actors: Michael Chua and P Muruganandan
 

Winner of Best Performance and nominated for Best Director and Best Script at the 3rd Singapore Short Film Awards (2012).

"Hentak Kaki" is one of the few local short films that have gone viral on the Internet and even gotten the mainstream press attention. It is currently the most popular video (by far) on viddsee.com

2nd Warrant Officer Teck Hong served his entire life in the army, but now finds himself needing to make a pivotal decision to continue serving in the army or leave and face the harsh reality of life outside. (In English/Singlish, 10 mins)

11. Deviant Ink


Directed by Brett Rogstad. 
  
A defiant teen, her tattoo and her motivation. (In Mandarin, 10 mins 21 secs)


 





Total: 88 min 39 sec