Acting the office slut

The other day, I received a call inviting me to audition for the role of an office slut.

“Office slut? Hahaha…” I said.

“We have three roles, actually,” the producer said quickly. “The office slut is the leading role. Well, she’s not really an office slut. More like a sexy bombshell who attracts all the guys. There’s also a pretty bimbo and a smart accountant.”

When I got to the production office, I was given scripts and asked to read for all three roles. Although they had initially invited me to audition for the office slut aka hot mama role, both director and producer thought I was more suitable for pretty bimbo upon meeting me. They also considered me for smart accountant because they needed someone with good diction for that role.

A few days later, I got a call telling me I’ve got the leading role of the Hot Mama.

Huh?

I don’t have a sexy bone in my body, wat? I don’t even have cleavage. But I happily accepted the role. A job’s a job, y’know?

It was a three-day shoot for a corporate video. We were supposed to act out several funny skits to showcase a well-known company’s office equipment products. The video would be shown at an event for business associates.

Corporate videos are usually boring jobs. But this job was just awesome. The script was funny and fun to act in. The crew was friendly and jovial, the director had a great sense of humour and kidded around with us, the cast got along well. I was quite sorry when the three days ended.

Two of the actors were people i’ve worked with before.

There’s Peer, who was Master Chief at my Halo 3 jobs. He played the boss of this dysfunctional company we work at, and he was damn funny at it.

Unfortunately, I didn’t take a photo of him because I only took out my camera on the third day and Peer wasn’t on set on that day. Sheesh.

There’s Fish, with whom I’ve worked countless times. Including the Halo 3 job! Yeah, he was there, too, as one of the marines.

Fish played the role of Handsome Guy. Isn’t he handsome? Incidentally, you can catch Fish in the latest Singaporean movie, Truth Be Told, starring Yvonne Lim. Go watch! Support local productions!

We rested in this room whenever we weren’t needed.

This meeting room had been turned into a holding area, makeup unit, dining room and rest lounge. We spent the time here joking with each other when it wasn’t our turn to be filmed.

Fish pretended to be a job interviewee.

I camwhored.

How fun.

One of my scenes involved a photoshoot in corporate clothes where I had to flirt with Fish’s character.

The role was really quite a stretch for me. Really lah! I look nothing like a hot mama and my clothes are wrong. But it was a rush job and we had to make do.

The result of the mock photoshoot:

Group shot! Me and Fish with the crew:

The other actors weren’t involved in this scene so they were resting in the holding area.

Here’s Judy (with Fish), who played the Pretty Bimbo:

And Janna (right), who played the Smart Accountant:

This was when they just arrived and haven’t gotten into costume yet.

We did this funny scene where we were all talking on the phone at the same time.

It was hilarious. In fact, the whole three days were hilarious. Comedy is so fun!

Director Zul is a superman. Apart from being the director and scriptwriter, he is also the DOP and cameraman.

For this scene, he took on one more role: soundman.

This is the first time I’ve seen anyone operate a camera and boom mike at the same time on a panning shot! It was amazing but so funny!

There was a lot of lighthearted banter between takes.

When the crew was busy setting up, Sani (who played the Office Secretary and my character’s main love interest) put on a straight face and asked the director, “Director, what’s my motivation for this scene?”

Which was funny because it’s a bit redundant to use motivations (an acting technique) for a short comic corporate video.

Laughter all around.

“Your motivation is to do a good take so I won’t fire your ass,” said Zul.

More laughter.

I’m paraphrasing the director, of course. I don’t remember his exact answer but it was funny like that.

Inspired thus, Sani decided to give an impromptu Acting 101 lecture. He put on this stupid accent and launched into his lecture to no one in particular.

Of course, he didn’t expect me to switch my camera to video-capturing mode. I captured a minute of his silliness before he realised that someone was videotaping him.

Hahaha!

Will post the video tomorrow. Watch out for it!

Perks of being an actress

Sometimes, being on set can be so fun that it doesn’t feel like work at all.

I was out on a corporate video shoot on Monday. It felt more like an outing because there were many locations and I got to play tourist.

Free cakes and coffee! One of the small perks of being an actor. Sometimes you get to eat yummy stuff for free if a scene calls for it.

Another perk is that you get to wear clothes you’d never otherwise get into your head to try on.

I feel very tall in this top!

Sometimes, filming takes you places you’d never visit on your own.

Such as the National Museum of Singapore.

Not that I’m claiming to be an uncultured hayseed but, really, who has time to visit the museum?

So, I was really glad to get the chance to step into our newly renovated museum.

Well, we didn’t stay long in there and all I got to see was this:

But it was pretty swell enough. Something interesting I’ve never seen before.

There are two video cameras mounted on the ceiling and on the opposite wall, so whoever stands in the square gets captured and broadcast on the digital wall behind.

Sometimes, the wall shows random photos depicting historical Singapore.

Our next location was the Esplanade.

Okay, maybe I’m an uncultured hayseed, after all, because I totallly don’t get abstract art.

This is such a bizarre sculpture, is it not? It’s on display at the main atrium of the Esplanade, together with several other bizarre sculptures.

Tell me it’s not bizarre! Check out the platypus beak and the propeller tail on this humanoid thing made of aluminium (or something) rings.

I don’t know what it’s supposed to mean. I forgot to read the description.

Here’s a picture of me and three crew members in front of the bizarre exhibition.

We went to Haji Lane next. I never even knew such a street existed in Singapore.

No, actually, I’ve kinda been to that area a few times (there’s a small Indian coffee shop that sells great nasi lemak on Baghdad Street) but I never realised Haji Lane is such a funky place.

But I think it’s a tourist trap because the things are expensive.

We filmed in this shop.

The outside looks really scary and intimidating. It doesn’t give an indication of what’s inside, so I’d never step in to check it out on my own.

But the inside is fun! There are all these cool things to look at.

Can you guess what this place is?

Here’s a clue:

Haha, not much of a clue, is it?

How about another:

Yup. It’s a clothing and accessories store!

Some of the stuff are really gorgeous but too pricey.

I love these shoes!

But they’re like over $200 a pair. Yech. =(

The girls were in agreement with me, so they did this see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil thing.

Or maybe they’re just nuts.

So the shoot ended and we all left empty handed.

And then we saw this.

Guard kittehs in a clothing store!

They were very tame, too. They just sat at the same exact spot and stared at us as we gawked at them and took pictures and waved to get their attention.

Super cute!

What a fulfilling and educational day this has been.

Haha, I feel like I just finished writing a primary school essay entitled “A Fun Day Out” or something asinine like that.

But it was certainly an interesting day and I feel pretty damn lucky that its part and parcel of my job.

Just don’t envy me too much because there are equally many downsides to being an actress, some of which you’ve heard but some of which you’ll never hear because I have to be PC.

For the most part, I try to keep myself focused on the perks, which makes me a happy camper!

On why I am an actress

I am stoned out of my skull.

Yesterday, I put myself through something worse than the time I had a job packing brochures into envelopes.

I spent an entire day reading 10 episodes of a Chinese drama script.

Chinese! Aaaaah!!

Each episode is about 65 pages, so that’s 650 freaking pages of Chinese text I made myself read in one day.

My head is still swimming from squiggle overload.

And I have about a thousand pages more to go.

(On a side note, though, I found the plot really intriguing. That’s why I couldn’t stop reading until about two in the morning, despite the difficulty of reading Chinese and the nausea from reading nonstop an entire day.)

This is what a typical page looks like. I’ve shrunk and blurred it so you can’t read the words, haha (assuming you can read Chinese). Scripts are confidential lah.

Anyway.

This is in preparation for an upcoming drama series. I don’t have a huge role. It’s a 25-episode drama and, out of the roughly 1600 pages, my involvement is only about 50 pages’ worth.

But it’s an important enough role for me to want to read the entire script, although I don’t really have to, since my character is only involved in one small sub-plot.

I don’t know what the industry norm is, but I personally like to read the entire script whether my role is big or small. Even if it means having to struggle through 1600 pages of Chinese text.

I like going on set feeling familiar with the environment, story and characters, and knowing what’s going on every step of the way.

Because of the way I get involved in stories, I like big roles.

Small roles depress me because they are one-dimensional and don’t give me a sense of ownership in the creation process. It’s like being invited to a party where you are only allowed to sit in the courtyard and watch the activities in the house through the window. You’re there but you’re not really part of it.

One of the big reasons I so love being an actress is because I love stories, whether in books or the movies. I get personally involved with the main characters in the story so much so that I want to BE them, step in their shoes, live their lives, share their triumphs, taste their disappointments.

Getting a big role is a chance to satisfy this deep yearning I’ve felt since I was a child.

Even when I get a small role, I try to get involved by reading the entire script (if I’m given it) and imagining an untold story for my character. But because I do not get to act out my imaginary story, I will go to the shoot, do my job and then go home and get depressed because the party is over for me.

In contrast, the sense of fulfillment I get from playing leading characters gives me a high which doesn’t go away for weeks.

This is the high I live for. This is the high that I suffer through countless auditions and humiliating small roles for. It’s a gamble because I can never be sure where I will end up. I get depressed whenever I imagine that my payout never comes. But I am still compelled to take the gamble.

That’s why, I think, I will be an actress till the day I die.

I am everywhere

I am being spotted everywhere (list here).

But I am still very unknown, so I can still go out in shoddy clothes and no makeup, which is something I quite enjoy.

As much as I want fame and fortune, I am scared of having to dress up just to go to the neighbourhood market.

Even non-good-looking celebrities have to look glam all the time, don’t they?

Another one of my commercials (Toyo correction tape) just went on air.

And I saw my EyeRelax video playing in an endless loop outside Guardian Pharmacy at Marina Square. I don’t think anybody watches it.

But please go and buy one because if the response is good, they’ll make it a TV commercial. It’s very expensive, though.

I saw my Carlsberg commercial in the cinema two nights ago and, boy, do I look like a tart.

Okay, I shall stop criticising myself now.

On a totally separate note, Chinese New Year is a beauty hazard. I ate too many Japanese peanuts and now I have a pimple on my nose. I haven’t even started on the bak kwa yet.

This is really sad. Peanuts are evil!

I’m going to bed to sleep the pimple away.

Presenting Shen Qiaoyun… the famous nobody

Since I am not a famous actress and no one is going to give me rave reviews for my performance in I Not Stupid Too, I shall do it myself!

I was a certified journalist so I should be more than qualified to give official reviews, shouldn’t I? Even if it’s of myself.

So, here goes.

Shen Qiaoyun — The Review

Making a surprise appearance in hit movie I Not Stupid Too is actress Shen Qiaoyun (formerly known and credited in the movie as Serena Sim).

Ms Shen simply sizzles on the silver screen. Yes, she is hot because her character has a bun in the oven and she looks like she should be lying down on the delivery bed instead of gallivanting around with a bunch of hyperactive kids.

For her role of a conservative pregnant primary school teacher, the youthful-looking actress sacrificed her “Act Cute in Baby Tee” specialty…

…to put on a maternity dress and horn-rimmed glasses.

And it is a worthy sacrifice because the actress really stands out in the movie. That is, her belly really stands out. She has many speaking lines, which, in showbiz terms, means “significant role (but not significant enough to be named in press releases)”.

In fact, this reviewer would find it a daunting challenge if asked to pick a line delivered by the actress that could possibly be Oscar material — there are so many. Should it be the line that goes “1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8”, when she counts time for the children for a dance performance, or the one that goes, “2, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8”?

Regardless, it is now clearly evident that Ms Shen can count. To at least eight.

And it is only a matter of time before she receives her pre-school graduation certificate.

On Monday, Jan 16, after the gala premiere of the long-awaited sequel to 2002’s I Not Stupid, a few members of the audience could be heard raving over the actress, who is well on her way to graduating from her showbiz status of “Not So Famous” to “Still Not Famous Yet”.

“Acting is quite natural except for some parts!”

“Looks like a mother!”

“Who the hell are you talking about?!”

These were some of the phrases uttered in praise of the illustrious actress.

Asked to comment on her own performance, Ms Shen said, “I am very relieved that I don’t look as bad on the big screen as I expected I would.”

Pressed further, the actress revealed that she had her hands up at her face throughout the movie in anticipation of cowering in embarrassment whenever she appeared on screen.

Such endearing modesty.

The actress went so far as to disguise herself at the gala premiere so that no one would recognise her as the pregnant teacher in the movie.

Ms Shen was spotted at the cocktail reception emulating Emily, her favourite merchandise mascot.

But her identity was revealed when she was later seen heading towards the theatre seat bearing her name.

Some of the actors were visibly upset by this invasion of privacy.

“Oh my god, our names are on the seats! This is so embarrassing,” said an actor who refused to be named.

Ms Shen, however, graciously took the infringement in her stride because all eyes were on the main stars of the show a few seats away, anyway. Nobody noticed when she busied herself by peering into the goodie bag generously contributed by SingTel and other sponsors.

Watch out for more of Ms Shen’s appearances on TV and cinema screens as the actress lends her presence to any production that can afford her daily rate — an amount somewhere in the vicinity of the gross national product of a developed anthill.

Indeed, I Not Stupid Too, directed by the multi-talented director Jack Neo, is all the more richer with Ms Shen’s involvement because she will be elevating box office takings by forcing all her friends, relatives and neighbours to watch the movie.

I Not Stupid Too launches in cinemas on Jan 26, 2006.