Auditioning for a feature film — Part 2

The audition grind continues (see Part 1)…

The callback audition was a lot easier because I was given a script to learn and it wasn’t a monologue.

Again, I had to wear 70s fashion, so I went and bought myself another dress. I decided not to wear that first dress again because I think I look atrocious in it.

Here’s my new dress:

It costs about $50 or so. Can’t remember exactly. I think it looks a lot better than the first one, although I’m not sure if it’s any more “correct” than the first.

I felt very self-conscious wearing it to the audition and then going home in it. It feels more like a costume than something a normal woman would wear out.

Then again, I’m always wearing “costumes” so what am I talking about?

Next!

The film I auditioned for is called More Than Words or Qian Yan Wan Yu in Mandarin. (The title is a tribute to Teresa Teng, the famous singing diva in that era.)

The second audition was fun. I got to act opposite Louis Wu (a SuperHost finalist and sometime actor in MediaCorp Channel 8 dramas, currently an AI Films artiste). He’s very friendly and humourous in person.

Louis Wu

Director Kelvin Sng chatted with me for a bit, then I did my scene with Louis.

When we were done, we both received some directions to modify the flavour of the scene and then we played it once more.

And that was it. I wish there could have been more because I was having fun, but then there were many people waiting for their turn.

We chatted a bit more, with Kelvin giving me some encouraging words but being very non-commital, and then it was the end.

It’s been almost a month now and there’s still no news from the production team, so I’m thinking it’s probably gone to dust.

I didn’t have very high hopes in the first place because the competition is really fierce, but it’s a job I would really like to have gotten because the role sounds like so much fun, and the crew seems very professional and passionate about the film and I have a deep hunger to work with professional, passionate people because we don’t get enough of them in Singapore.

Anyway, I’m glad that I’m now making a living doing something I really enjoy (blogging and playing games), so I can relax a little on the audition grind. I’m still going to the occasional audition, but very selected ones, so the frustration is still manageable.

If I may say it again, auditions are evil.

Auditioning for a feature film — Part 1

Four months ago, I saw a casting notice inviting actors to audition for a Mandarin gangster movie set in 1970s Singapore. I sent in my resume and photos and was shortlisted to audition for the role of the main female character.

That was good news, except that I was tasked to prepare a Mandarin monologue and dress up in 70s fashion.

I had never done a Mandarin monologue in my life. I had no idea where to look for a piece I could do. It should also be noted at this point that my Mandarin is as bad as my English is good.

(I can speak Mandarin very fluently and accurately if you give me the words to say. Otherwise, I’m a complete mess.)

It should also be noted that actors are supposed to spend months rehearsing monologue pieces to get good at them.

So, I had about two weeks to prepare for this scary audition and the butterflies in my stomach very obligingly kept me company throughout my ordeal.

I even contemplated calling it off, so stressed was I of not being able to live up to it. But I really wanted a chance at the role, so I rang up an actor friend for help.

I asked him where I could find Mandarin monologues. He said he’d lend me a book of short plays. At his earliest convenience, I went to pick up the book from him.

First challenge overcome. Next came the greater challenge.

I had to read the book in order to find a suitable monologue (or at least a dialogue I could modify into a monologue).

I figured that it would take me five minutes to read one page and 36 hours to read the entire book. It was written by some literary luminary in a level of language which I feel would be more suited to people studying advanced Chinese literature.

Well, I didn’t have 36 hours. At that time, I had just returned to Singapore after filming in Malaysia and was busy wrapping up filming in Singapore as well as preparing for X08, the biggest ever Xbox event.)

I had to quickly scan all the lines spoken by relevant characters to try to pick something out. Long story short, it took me about a week to find my monologue and try to read the whole play that the monologue came from to get an understanding of it.

After that, I only had a week left to rehearse. And to find a costume. All that during one of the busiest periods of my life.

I rehearsed it as much as I could (which wasn’t enough), did some Googling on 70’s fashion trends and managed to get my costume one day before, and finally arrived at the audition bright and early, as prepared as I could manage.

The dress cost me $65. I bought it the day before the audition. I wasn’t even sure if it was “correct” but it was the best I could find.

It’s now sitting in my wardrobe and I’m wondering what to do with it. I don’t think I will dare to wear it out on a normal day because it’s so loud.

The audition started off with a short chat (in Mandarin, no less) with director Kelvin Sng. He’s a very friendly and jovial guy, which made the process a lot easier to get through.

After the chat, I had to do my monologue. I think I did it really badly. I just can’t do monologues. They’re totally unnatural!

And then an improvisation session. I was put opposite actor Vincent Tee (who has appeared in several local movies) to act in a scene briefly described on the spot by the director.

I think I did that even worse because I had to improv in Mandarin and the words wouldn’t come out, so I basically came across in the scene as some half-mute person.

I knew what I wanted to say but I had no words for what I wanted to say. Haha. If only I could have done it in English. But that wasn’t the point of the session, I guess.

I think the audition was a total disaster, which was quite disappointing after all the effort I had put into it. But then this happens quite a lot to me so I’m used to it by now.

And, in fact, sometimes I get jobs out of disastrous auditions and sometimes I don’t get jobs out of auditions I think I did so well I would have hired myself on the spot.

So, you can never tell.

Three weeks after the audition, I received an e-mail informing me that I had been shortlisted again to attend a callback audition. (That’s like the second round of auditions.)

That was quite a shock, but a happy one, of course. I had a chance to redeem myself!

To be continued…

Did you get the role?

I don’t normally like to talk about my auditions or, if I do talk about them, I try to talk about them in non-specific terms, not naming anything or anyone, so that people won’t know which auditions I passed and which I didn’t.

One reason I don’t like to talk about auditions is because people always ask stupid questions like “Did you get the role?” on the very day of the audition.

I have news for everyone. Film auditions are just like job interviews. They don’t tell you on the spot whether they’re giving you the job, because

a) they still have more applicants to see after you, duh,

b) they need time to hire a PI to do a background check on you,

c) they want to go home and consult their dogs first. “Wag your tail if you like this girl.”

Or whatever.

This is not rocket science. It’s common sense.

Sometimes, they take months to decide. Gasp. Just like any other job interview, you don’t say, would you like fries with that?

Another reason I don’t like to talk about auditions is because people like to follow up, as early as a day later.

One day later…

“So, did you get the role?”

I get asked the same question every day for the next ten days by different people. Sometimes by the same people.

I don’t know if I got the role! I just auditioned for heaven’s sake!

What’s with this insatiable desire to know whether I got the role or not??

Who cares? If I got the role, you’ll read about it on my blog. You’ll see me on TV. You’ll see me on film, on YouTube, on the papers, wherever.

Making me go through the same conversation a million times will not enrich either of our lives.

“So, did you get the role?”

“Yes.”

“Congrats! I knew you could do it!”

“Thanks!”

“So, what’s for dinner?”

Or…

“So, did you get the role?”

“No.”

“Oh. Well, I’m sure you’ll get the next one.”

Yes of course I will get the next one! I just don’t need to go through this conversation two hundred times a month!!

Another thing is, it’s very unpleasant to talk about failure. In showbiz, they say that a 20% success rate is the standard.

You must understand that actors go for auditions all the time. Sometimes every day. Sometimes three or four times a day. And, sometimes, a thousand people are gunning for the same job.

So, a 20% success rate is pretty golden.

But, on the flip side, it means that you have to report failure 80% of the time.

And you’re reporting failure a lot because your friends won’t stop asking you, “Did you get the role?”

I repeat, it’s very unpleasant to talk about failure. Or be reminded of it.

I don’t want to have to say “No, I didn’t get it,” eight out of 10 times, you understand?

So, anyway, I haven’t gone for an audition in months because I’ve been busy with my new media work. But I went for one on Thursday and I will talk about it soon. Just don’t ask me whether I got the role.

Because I don’t know.

God is a Woman — Day 4

Filming in KL — Day 4
Oct 9, 2008

KL (Malaysia) has so many beautiful grungy places. Although quite scary, they serve as exquisite backdrops for films and photoshoots.

I would love to go back to this place to do a fashion photoshoot.

Or maybe not.

It’s a big abandoned building with all kinds of crazy junk heaped around the compound. It’s like a rubbish warehouse.

And the mozzies had a field day when tourists came to visit.

The native mosquitoes rolled out the red carpet to welcome us.

Welcome! they cried, Please make yourselves at home while we drink your blood!

They huge, they’re enthusiastic and they’re hungry.

They’re also ninjas.

I swear.

Big as they are, you don’t feel them land on your skin. You don’t feel them feeding.

You’re minding your own business, looking around casually. And then you chance to glance at your arm, and there’s a teenage mutant ninja mozzie shaking salt and pepper on your hair follicles.

In alarm, you swing your arm violently to shake off the TMNM. But, with all the years of gruelling ninja training under its arthropodal belt, it is prepared for the assault.

It clings onto you with its hooks for feet, all the while laughing maniacally at the folly of homo sapiens. You consider thwapping it flat but you don’t want mozzie guts all over your arm.

So you scream at it.

“My blood is toxic and will kill you dead, you dumb shit!”

Miraculously, the mozzie flies off at that.

And then you realise that that’s only because it’s already had its fill. A pink welt develops instantly on your arm where the TMNM had last roosted.

And it’s itchy.

Beware of teenage mutant ninja mozzies.

We should have heeded the warning.

Luckily, I didn’t die of dengue fever after this encounter.

I wonder how the resident artists survived the TMNM attacks. They must have some kind of permit to stick around unmolested while they complete their artistic masterpieces.

We didn’t stay around for too long. Perhaps 40 minutes or so. I could feel my cells screaming in agony just being in this waste.

You might think that this building is in some remote no man’s land, 3,000 kilometres away from the nearest civillisation.

It’s not.

It’s just minutes away from civillisation. I don’t suppose the residents in neighbouring buildings take a leisurely walk to this dumpster every evening after dinner to dispose of their trash?

After doing our scenes in this building, we strolled over to another compound with even more abandoned buildings.

It was better this time. We didn’t have to enter any of the buildings. We shot everything outdoors.

And that’s the end of my shoot in KL!

We drove up to Penang on the same day. It was a nice journey that took us from daylight to nightfall. I can’t remember how many hours it was.

Along the way, Dean, who was at that time the driver, suddenly turned around and said to me, “You must take a photo of these buildings!!”

“Why?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” he said.

Nuts!

He’s always saying things for no reason. So, Kan took over the wheel and made him be the cameraman.

It kept him occupied for a good while.

Every time we went through a toll booth, he had to hold up the sensor unit for access because someone couldn’t be bothered to stick it to the windscreen.

And then we were in Penang!

My first impression of Penang:

*lol*

I didn’t know Penang is a resort city. It took us more than an hour to find our hotel because Kan was looking for a specific hotel and we were led on a wild goose chase by well-meaning locals. Finally, one savvy local told us that the hotel we wanted had already closed down.

DOH.

We settled for this small resort hotel called The Lone Pine Hotel which is, frankly, a bit creepy because of the name and the way the sign looks.

It brings to mind B-grade horror flicks where unsuspecting backpackers get eaten by giant mutant bugs while being raped by bored psychopaths.

Okay, it’s not that bad.

It’s a cosy resort with friendly service. It also has a nice pool, which is a redundant fact because I don’t swim.

I don’t like wearing swimsuits. =>

Alright, then. That’s all for today. More adventures in Penang next time!

All drugged up and nowhere to go

The following post first appeared on Sheylara.com on April 23, 2004.

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Going to an audition is like taking an ecstasy pill and then not being allowed to party and dance.

I told this to Chong last night over ICQ and he said, “Like taking Viagra and not being able to have sex?”

I suppose that analogy works, too.

Auditions are very much like drugs. There are good ones and there are bad ones. Good ones make you feel good and crave more. Bad ones just make you sick. (If you’re cheapo and buy cheap drugs from dodgy suppliers, you might get fake or diluted ones which can make you physically sick.)

Mind you, I don’t actually do drugs and I don’t encourage anyone to. I just know a bit about them because there was a chapter on recreational drugs in my college Psychology course.

I had to add that disclaimer because I don’t want any gahmen bodies shutting down my site. So, here’s another disclaimer for good measure:

RECREATIONAL DRUGS ARE EVIL! They make you impotent and eat your brain cells and kill your kidneys and make your parents sad.

I am such a model citizen.

Now, back to auditions.

What happens at an audition is that, depending on what I’m asked to do, varying amounts of adrenaline will course through my body and my brain’s serotonin factory will work overtime.

The result is that my creative energy is up and I’m on a high and I want to dance and jump around and do all sorts of crazy things.

But auditions are short-lived. They make you do fun things and get you all excited. They let you show off for a while, and then they say thank you, now bugger off because I have 6,355 more applicants to see.

See what I mean? It’s like being invited to a rave party (keeping in mind that my knowledge of rave parties is purely academic), and they give you a party drug, but the moment the drug starts kicking in, they shoo you off home.

Can anything be more anti-climatic?

And then, there are bad auditions. Which is when you’re made to do things you’re not that good at or you’re feeling especially nervous because Najip Ali is the casting director (yes, that happened once).

So you do a lousy job and you feel like a fool because you’re sure that everyone thinks you suck because they’re staring at you like you have a piece of lettuce stuck between your teeth and you think the best solution to all your problems in life is to go home and lock the doors and board up all the windows and never emerge from the house again.

In any case, I don’t like the feeling I get after an audition. It’s like, I don’t know what to do with myself and I have all this energy to release but nowhere to release it to. And I’m trembling because my nerves are all fired up and I feel like I’m going to spontaneously combust.

AUDITIONS ARE EVIL!

But some are fun. I was at one of those last night.

I was given a monologue to learn on the spot and I did a crying scene and I had to do it TWICE because three phones started ringing in succession while I was in the midst of weeping tragically.

After that, the director played me a piece of music and told me to perform a mime to that music. I decided to act as a seed at crossroads because that was what the music made me feel like.

I told my boyfriend about it after the audition and he was, like, “How can you act as a seed? It’s an inanimate object!”

Boyfriends just don’t get it, do they?

Of course seeds can move. How else do they turn into trees and plants?

And if Garfield can talk and walk around on his hind legs, I don’t see why seeds can’t sing and dance and do income tax returns.

Anyway, that’s the great thing about being an actress. You can justify just about any shit and you can be anything or anyone you want.

But auditions are still evil.

SO ARE PARTY DRUGS!! OK??