Going behind the scenes

More photos from behind the scenes of my short film, Beatnik Sweetheart.

Well, it’s not technically my short film lah. I’m just the actress! ;)

After receiving my scary ah lian makeup from the makeup artist, I had to stand around with the rest of the crew to wait for the pub owner to open his pub.

Remember I had mentioned that we had to postpone this scene once because the owner couldn’t wake up on time to open his shop for us?

This second time, he overslept again and we ended up waiting about two hours for him.

But he let us mess up his pub for free, so we couldn’t really complain.

The pub is nice. It’s got disembodied heads floating around.

I’m talking about the “head” on the right. Not Shu An, who is an actress.

See? Shu An is a happy actress.

So am I, as a matter of fact.

The scene at the pub was relatively uneventful. It basically involved take after take of drinking fake Chivas (that is, green tea), being rowdy and pretending to enjoy ourselves.

Our next scenes were shot at the DOP’s home.

One of the first things done was getting this poster ironed.

Yes, it is what it looks like.

This poster was to be used as a prop for one of the bedroom walls. Because it was all curled from being rolled up, it had to be ironed to straighten it out.

I had two bed scenes that day.

But I can’t go into detail because if I do, my director will kill me for giving spoilers.

Let’s just say that the process of making out for the camera is never as enjoyable as it looks onscreen.

Here’s my bedroom:

It’s so cosy! I really think I ought to employ art directors to decorate my room. All my bedrooms never look like this.

Final location for the night was at this quaint cafe called Food #03

While the crew set up…

…the actor slept.

But actresses don’t have the luxury to sleep. They have to continously have their makeup touched up.

The other actress (me) was, of course, busy taking photographs in the background.

But I did manage to get a photo of the three of us (actors) together. It’s a bit hard because there’s always one of us busy at any given time. Doing makeup, changing clothes, going through rehearsal, sleeping, being filmed, etc.

And, finally, here’s the director and DOP, with the producer hiding behind them:

Crew people are usually very camera shy, so you have to secretly take photos of them, sometimes.

I’m not saying these particular guys are. I’m just saying in general.

There was once last year, I got scolded by a crew member for taking photographs of the crew working.

It’s tough being a struggling actress-blogger!

Almost addicted to smoking

Being an actor gives one the license to do all sorts of naughty things.

So, that’s gonna be my line the next time someone asks me (for the umpteenth time) why I decided to become an actress.

Some of the “naughty” things I’ve done in the name of acting:

  • Push someone into the Singapore River
  • Dance in a graveyard
  • Drink on the job
  • Do a mock strip tease
  • Slap someone
  • Kiss under a fountain
  • Scare an unsuspecting public with ghostly makeup
  • Blow cigarette smoke in someone’s face
  • Yell at someone older than me
  • Tell a lie in court

I don’t know why anyone wouldn’t want to be an actor.

Of course, then again, one would have to be able to take all the shit as well as the fun.

Example of shit:

Long waiting hours between shots, sleeping in all kinds of weird places because there is nothing else to do.

This isn’t an extreme example of shit but I’m not really going that direction today.

I promised to tell you what this guy was doing to me, some time back.

Only one person got it right. Mince Pye said, “Sound technician installing your wireless mic?”

Yes.

The wireless mic usually goes under the clothes, around the chest area. But, for some reason, my wardrobe during that shoot kept causing a lot of sound disturbance, so this one time, the sound guy decided to hide the mic behind my ear, where it could be covered by my hair.

He went a bit overboard with the tape.

The mic was held in place by surgical tapes because the sound man’s gaffer tape had mysteriously disappeared (again, he claimed).

On the first day of the shoot, the mic was placed inside my hat, just above my forehead where my hairline is.

It wasn’t done nicely the first time and the gaffer tape stuck to my hair and refused to come off. I had to pull off quite many strands of hair in the process.

Ouch.

Well, I generally have no problems with losing hair, but it’s painful when done forcefully.

My co-actors didn’t have any mic woes like I did. Their clothes didn’t mess up the sound, so they had their mics in the regular spot.

I had my long smoking scene that day.

(No smoking photos because, like I said before, I don’t want to glamourise smoking.)

The smoking scene was done in a big, beautiful house.

Smoking in style.

Me taking a photo of myself on the screen:

There was a scene in which I had to enter the house with two bottles of beer. We did many takes of that, so I had to spend many long minutes waiting outside the door.

There was nothing to do but camwhore. I set my camera on timer and did a self-photoshoot.

After years of experience waiting on the set, I’ve developed several effective ways to entertain myself, besides sleeping.

The smoking scene didn’t happen till late at night.

It was a very long scene. A five-minute scene done in one shot. That means there had to be many takes to get it perfect, because if there was even one small mistake anywhere in the five minutes, we had to do it all over.

I was literally chain smoking that night as we did take after take.

By my fifth cigarette (although I didn’t have to smoke each stick all the way), I started feeling high.

It was a nice sensation, actually, my first time experiencing it. Thoughts running through my head:

“No wonder people get addicted to smoking.”

“Oh, no, am I going to be addicted, especially since I hang out with smokers?”

“Hahahahahahaa!”

That last one was me feeling happy and giggly from the smokes.

I lost count of the number of times we redid the scene. By my 10th or so cigarette, I started getting seriously giddy, like I had drunk too much alcohol, which actually kinda helped because I was supposed to be partially drunk in that scene.

But after way too many cigarettes, I started feeling not very good. My hands turned cold and I felt like I might break out into cold sweat any moment.

By about 1:30 am or so, we finally wrapped. I grabbed a cab and felt sick all the way home.

When I got home, I complained to the Goonfather, “I’m going to die.”

He informed me that I was suffering from nicotine overdose and asked me to drink a lot of water to dilute the nicotine.

I was nauseous and giddy and just generally horrible. So I cooked a packet of instant tom yam beehoon because I always feel better after eating something sour when I have a hangover.

After the tom yam, the nausea got a teensy bit better, but I still largely felt like shooting myself out of misery – https://www.nafsiyat.org.uk/viagra-online/.

The next day, when I finally felt normal again, I decided that the sickness was a blessing in disguise. It had totally turned me off smoking. The ordeal I had gone through had given me a huge distaste for smoking.

But still I love being an actress and doing things I otherwise wouldn’t get to do under normal circumstances.

I think it’s an interesting way to live, anyway.

Quite a disastrous shoot if ever there was one

So, I’m going to be brutal today and unglam the glam.

Not that I’m saying my films are very glam, but some people do have that idea, occasionally.

I’m taking you behind the scenes of a short film called Beatnik Sweetheart, which chronicles the dysfunctional relationship between three friends in an uncaring world.

The wardrobe, makeup and art people went all out to make us look impossibly good and I think they did a great job.

But beyond the painted faces and pretty sets, a multitude of unglam hiccups plagued the production on Day 1.

The first scene took place at the abandoned police headquarters at Eu Tong Sen Street.

The location also just happened to be home to an army of invisible bloodthirsty mosquitoes. You won’t even know of their existence until itchy welts mysteriously appear on your skin, just minutes after you arrive on the scene.

I started scratching subconsciously.

“Why my arm so itchy?” I mused aloud.

The art director suddenly yelled, “No, no, no! Don’t scratch!”

He stared in alarm at the mounting redness on my arm. Then he leapt away and came back ferociously wielding a spray can.

Liberally doused in a thick layer of insect repellent, I tried to ignore the itch while the makeup artist gunked up my face.

Then it was up to the rooftop.

We had to walk up five very long flights of steps, followed by this long, intimidating ladder.

The landing was cramped and scary, with that gaping hole in the middle.

But what a beautiful rooftop it was outside. I mean the view was beautiful.

The crew spent some time setting up the lights and cameras and mic-ing the actors. And then we were ready to roll.

That was when it started to rain.

Suddenly. Heavily.

You can’t really see from the picture, but the director was standing in the open, getting rained on, while we took shelter in the crammed little landing area.

I’ll bet you saw that camwhoring photo coming, savvy blog reader.

When the rain finally let up, about half an hour later, we had to sit on a picnic mat for blocking and rehearsal purposes as we waited for the ground to dry up a little for the take.

In the film, we’re all cool youngsters and cool youngsters don’t use picnic mats.

What we had were beer and cigarettes.

I was stressed because I had practised smoking (minimally) only three days before this shoot and still felt awkward holding a cigarette.

But I managed to smoke without coughing while the tape was rolling, so I think that counted for something. Nobody complained about my smoking skills.

The only complaint I received was from the camera assistant, who decided to speak out after seeing me throw out five half-smoked cigarettes with each take.

“Can you don’t throw away?” he said, eyeing the dumped cigarettes heart-brokenly. “Just pass to one of us to finish it.”

“But it’s got my lipstick all over it,” I said. “And it’s Virginia Slim VERY LIGHT.”

“A cigarette is still a cigarette,” said he.

Couldn’t argue with that.

A beer, though, is sometimes not a beer.

My poor Corona was topped up with chrysanthemum tea after each take, until it became more tea than beer.

An hour later, I started feeling severe gastric pains.

I realised belatedly that I should have taken breakfast. Beer and tea are a recipe for disaster for my weak stomach.

I went to the producer and made an apologetic request. “Sorry, can you please get someone to grab my gastric pills from downstairs?”

“Shit.” she said.

She went down herself. And I felt really bad because that meant five long flights of stairs and one long rickety ladder, times two.

We finished the scene a few hours later and ate packet lunches right here, sitting on the ledges:

My gastric pains went away.

Next location was Changi Airport for one very short scene.

It went relatively smoothly, except that the airport was too empty at the time for the director’s liking.

“It wasn’t this empty when I last came to recce!” he proclaimed.

But it eventually filled up, somewhat, and we got our shot after endless takes.

Here’s me taking a photo of the DOP framing me for the shot.

I love doing that.

Close-up of the picture feed from the video camera:.

By the time this very short scene was done, it was almost 5 pm. We had only completed two scenes (since 7:30 am). We had two more scenes scheduled to go.

But then the director said, “It’s a wrap!”

“Huh?” we all went.

It turned out that we couldn’t do the next two scenes because:

  1. The owner of the first location (a pub) had overslept and told us to postpone our shoot to the next day.
  2. The owner of the second location (a boutique) changed her mind and decided not to let us to shoot there.

So, I was about to change out of my costume when the director suddenly made a new announcement.

“Hey, let’s shoot the tunnel scene tonight, instead.”

The tunnel in question is the new expressway tunnel next to Fort Canning Park.

The plan now was to go back to our “base” (the DOP’s apartment) to rehearse our hot lesbian action scene (yes), have dinner there, wait till about 9 pm when there will be fewer cars on the road, then travel to the tunnel.

My gastric pains came back.

Worse, I was getting the worst backache I’ve ever experienced.

I could hardly sit still in the car as we travelled back to the apartment. My front and back were both killing me.

I had run out of antacids and had to wait till we reached the apartment. From there, I walked out myself to the nearest supermarket to get more antacids.

Our costumes for the tunnel scene:

I didn’t realise that I was wearing the wrong shoes for this photo until I got home and saw the photo.

I was supposed to be wearing black pumps for this outfit but because they hurt my feet, I went around in my canvas shoes outside of takes.

Another picture with the wrong shoes:

Our rehearsal at the apartment took longer than planned, so by the time we left the apartment, it was almost 10 pm.

On the sidewalk opposite the tunnel, waiting for the crew to arrive:

With our co-actor:

Our actor was a little weird. We made him sit on the ground to pose for photos with us, but he didn’t like it very much, mumbling something about the ground being dirty or having ants or something.

He sat down just enough to snap one photo and then sprang up again, visibly distraught.

We made faces at him and then continued camwhoring.

Shortly after, the crew arrived and it was off to the tunnel.

It was quite exciting in there. Kind of scary, kind of grungy, kind of crazy.

We took 10 minutes to plan and prepare the shot, then we went for a take.

Right after the first take (which turned out to be no good), we heard sirens.

“Weee-ooo-eee-ooo-EEE-OOO-gonna-get-joooooo!”

Along came an LTA marshall, beckoning us to go to him at the opening of the tunnel.

Our spirits dampened, we trudged wearily back to where we started.

Had our particulars taken down, had a bit of a lecture about trespassing, and then we were let off with a warning that we might all be receiving fines in the mail in two weeks.

It had been a long day. 15 hours, to be precise. Six hours overrun.

Inexplicably, though, I enjoyed the shoot, enjoyed the cast and crew and looked forward to the next day.

To be continued.

Anti-smoking actress picks up smoking

Yesterday was the most ironic day of my life.

I performed an anti-smoking skit at a health fair at Suntec Convention Centre.

On the same day, I picked up smoking.

Both occurences aren’t related, are isolated, therefore ironic.

Well, don’t yell at me just yet. At least finish reading this post, then vote for me, then yell if you must.

I’ve performed the anti-smoking skit, commissioned by the Health Promotion Board, about seven times since last year.

The past performances were for the civil sector (army camps and airbases) while yesterday was to the mass public (health fair).

As for picking up smoking, I’ve got a short film which starts production on Tuesday. I play a jaded ah lian and am required to smoke in a few scenes.

After two disastrous attempts in the past to play a convincing smoker, I’ve decided it’s time to do it right.

I don’t want to get addicted, so I scheduled myself only three days of practice with a real cigarette before filming starts.

I don’t think it’ll be enough to make me look like a seasoned smoker, but at least (I hope) I won’t look like a complete non-smoker.

I think it’s an acceptable compromise.

So it just happened that I started smoking practice on the same day I had to perform the anti-smoking skit.

I’m sorry for this show of duplicity, but it’s all part of the job, after all.

I got a pack of Virginia Slims because I’m told that it’s the mildest available. No photos because I don’t want to advocate or glamorise smoking, you understand.

I smoked two sticks today (hours apart, of course).

I hate it. It doesn’t feel good. It tastes horrible. And it leaves a disgusting aftertaste which lingers for hours, even after I brush my teeth (and tongue) and eat a packet of chocolate popcorn and drink a can of Kickapoo.

But I enjoyed the process of learning how to light a cigarette, how to hold it, how to inhale and exhale, how to look like I’ve been smoking for ages.

I always enjoy learning and experiencing new things, challenging myself to excel in everything I do. That’s something I can’t change about myself. And that is why I must eventually pick up smoking, in order to do my job better.

After today’s experience, though, I totally do not want to be a smoker. It’s horrible, stupid, counter-productive, expensive, life-threatening, smelly, inconvenient, not fun at all.

And I really hate holding an object that bears a disgusting photo of some decaying body part. It’s disturbing. I cringe every time I catch a glimpse of cigarette packs.

I have another performance at the health fair today, after which I will practice on two more sticks. Narcolepsy made drives to the pharmacy a dangerous task because I can fall asleep any minute without even noticing it. The way out I have found for myself is ordering medicines on https://wilmetteinstitute.org/modafinil-online/. Here I can buy Modafinil and other drugs I need without a risk of getting into a car accident. It’s nice to have such an alternative to regular pharmacies.

But, yes, I’m going to stop smoking after filming ends.

I hope the nicotine doesn’t get me by then.

If my muse doesn’t show up, I’m dead

Six weeks ago, I auditioned for a role in a theatre production. Three actors got the job and I was one of them. Woohoo. What a happy occasion because I hardly get theatre roles.

And then Jack jumped out of the box and punched me in the face.

I had to write my own script.

For a solo performance.

(The production is made up of three solo performances.)

Ouch.

An insane fear gripped me. Elation at getting the job evolved into a monster that gnawed at my intestines.

I may be a good writer, in general, and even have a passing knowledge of scriptwriting techniques, but I hardly think I’m qualified to write a script good enough for a paying crowd. (If I were, I would be churning them out and making money.)

And I hate monologues. I must have mentioned that somewhere in my blog before. Probably more than once. Monologues just kill me.

Of course, I tried not to show the fear. One must always appear confident and in control in front of one’s employers. But whether or not the fear is well-hidden is another matter altogether. Some directors are so perceptive they can see right through makeup, skin and bone, right into the marrow of your soul.

I was tempted to opt out of the production. But of course I didn’t.

I’ve done amazing things before. Like cough out a 3,000-word essay discussing the sanity of Jean-Paul Sartre in one night. And after performing amazing feats like that, I can never remember how they happened. They just did.

Humans are apparently capable of more than is apparent. So I’m always accepting projects beyond my apparent capability, hoping that my proverbial muse will possess me in the nick of time and do all the work and save my sorry skin.

So it was with this mindset that I accepted this scary project. It’s not every day I get a chance to perform in a theatre production. If I pass up this opportunity, I might as well make a quick phone call now and have myself measured for a nice Brazilian rosewood coffin.

After that, I stressed over it every chance I got. I mentally brainstormed ideas while jogging, I scribbled thoughts while commuting on the MRT, I emo-ed to the Goonfather on a daily basis about how stressed I was.

One month later, I finally completed my first draft.

Relief. Mixed with a bit of shame over how long it took me.

But you can’t imagine the relief.

I went for my first rehearsal today. It was part script discussion and reading, part acting training to work on areas I’m weak at.

My mentor-director gave me a lot of food for thought, a lot of ideas. I wish he could rewrite the script for me because he has all the tools and experience and know-how. But it’s my challenge and my responsibility so it seems he can’t do that.

Before today, I was really pleased with my script. But it’s like that. When you’re elated over completing a gargantuan task, it will always look like a pot of gold to you at the moment.

Now I think my script is junk because there were so many things I didn’t consider and so many ways in which it can be improved. Ok, it’s not totally junk. It has some good points but it’s not good enough to work, on the whole.

So, back to the stressing board. I mean drawing board. Writing board. Whatever.

I’m going batty nuts psycho because the performance is two weeks from now.

Hahahahahaa! (psychotic laughter)

Now would be a really good time to get hysterical for my muse to show up and perform a miracle. But the way things work, I think she will let me stew in my own sweat for a week first, and then jump in when I’m teetering over the edge of insanity from desperation and panic. Muses are like that. They like to screw with your mind. But I guess it’s better than if they don’t appear at all.

What the hell. I’m an actress but here I am stressing over being a playwright. Where is the justice?

Besides this project, I also concurrently have other projects and tasks to stress over. So I’m even stressing over which project to stress over first.

Can’t blame a girl for getting a bit psychotic.