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…

God is a Woman — Day 3

Filming in KL — Day 3
Oct 8, 2008

Today was like the climax of our trip, with all the heavy-duty scenes scheduled. Most of them I can’t talk about (or show pictures of) because they’re spoilers.

But I’ll talk about our bitch fight scene.

Maria and I had a fight scene in this dirty alley.

It was quite awesome. We did it so realistically that one Indian auntie actually ran up to us to try to break up our fight in the middle of a take.

Kan was really proud of us afterwards. He said, “That auntie paid you the highest compliment actors can receive.”

Here’s a before-fight photo of me:

Here’s an after-fight photo of me (my hair should be messier but then my hair could never get messed up naturally):

Close-up:

This is a real scratch I acquired during the fight. Not makeup.

But it wasn’t really bad. It has healed since.

The more jialat one is my middle finger.

Two weeks later, now, it still hurts when I touch it or flex my finger.

I heal slow. That’s why my favourite X-Men character is Wolverine. I really envy him. Plus Hugh Jackman is…

One word: Swoon.

I cannot resist men with long floppy hair!

I also collected about 15 or more scars and bruises, as well as lost a substantial bunch of hair, but I’d better not scare you with a montage of gory photos like one of those Chinese medicine roadshow posters.

Here’s just a mild example (photo of my right forearm, taken three days after the fight scene):

Anyway, that was quite fun. The fight scene, that is.

We went back to the rubbish dump later in the day. The rubbish pile had increased considerably after just one day.

For comparison, this was taken on Oct 7:

Oct 8 (from roughly the same angle):

It wasn’t drizzling today, so the smell was stronger than the day before and there were more flies and rats around (yech).

Nevertheless, cast and crew (which consisted of only five people) doggedly pressed on.

At the end of the day, we rewarded ourselves with bananas for dinner.

You know how eateries in Malaysia have plates of bananas sitting around for the taking?

Okay we didn’t really have bananas for dinner. We just ate some while waiting for our real food to arrive.

DEAN ATE FIVE BANANAS. DON’T ASK ME HOW.

He said, “I love bananas.”

He’s such a weird person!

I will do a separate post on food in KL another day!

God is a Woman — Day 2

For the record, I’m now back in Singapore, so don’t get confused when I talk about my Malaysia filming trip.

Filming in KL — Day 2
Oct 7, 2008

I was able to sleep an extra hour today, waking up at 6 am. The best sleep you could ever have is when you’re so exhausted that nothing short of a banshee wail could wake you.

The first scene of the day was shot in my room. It was a scene between me and Dean.

Dean is quite an awesome fellow, really. Not only is he our male lead actor, he also doubles up as camera assistant, tour guide, chauffeur, gofer and court jester. (I’m serious about the last one.)

He took this photo for me:

Not bad, huh?

Dean is the kind of person you can’t help making funny faces at.

We were travelling in the car at one point when he said to me, “You must talk about me in your blog today.”

“Okay,” I said. “What do you want me to say about you?”

“That I’m super handsome, charming, irresistable, talented, charismastic, funny, intelligent…”

Kan (our director) cut in at this point: “You really want her to say all that?”

“Yes! Why not!” said Dean with a serious face. “We must be very transparent.”

And then Maria hit him on the head with a cushion.

Dean cried out, “OHHHHHHHH NOOOOOOOOOOOO!! You just ruined my feng shui for the day!”

“What?” we said in unison.

Gesticulating wildly, at times with his hands dangerously off the wheel, he cried, “I have already set my hair today for good feng shui and you just ruined it!!! Now I have to go back to the feng shui master again to reset my hair!”

Kan then threatened to kill his character off in the film if he continued being a nutcase, so we managed to arrive at our intended destination without any further incident.

This photo was taken in an actual casting house in KL, where models go to get in line to be slaughtered.

Well, at least, that’s what I feel like each time I go for a casting.

Fortunately, today’s casting session wasn’t real.

Here’s Kan setting up a shot in the props room while I wait outside:

Nash posing with a bicycle:

Actually, he wasn’t posing. That was part of the scene.

After the casting house, we went to a Chinese temple.

It’s such a big temple that there’s even a food court in the basement.

There are also stalls selling I dunno souvenirs or religious artefacts.

There’s even a marriage registration counter.

While Kan set up for the next shot, the rest of us enjoyed the silly antics of Dean and Nash.

I told you he doubled as our court jester.

I tried to blog but it was very hard to, with crazy people beside me doing crazy things.

See what I mean?

After our temple scenes, we went back to Dean’s apartment in the heart of KL, where he has a rooftop garden.

Okay, it’s not exactly a garden. It’s just a rooftop area with a little bit of greenery around the edges. But the view is nice.

I thought it was a nice place to camwhore, so I did that while the rest were shooting stuff that didn’t require me.

Now comes the interesting location.

This place can be found about two minute’s walk from our hotel (Hotel Istana), and maybe just a litte more from KLCC.

It was fortunately drizzling at the time we went there, so there weren’t too many flies and rats and it wasn’t too smelly.

Dean says this dumping ground has been like this like, forever. The level of rubbish goes up and down over time but it never disappears. Apparently, the authorities do come to clear it once in a long while, but for some reason they don’t clear everything at once, so it piles up again.

And yes, there are people living in the buildings surrounding the rubbish pile.

On the first day of our shoot, Kan told me and Maria that we would have to wade into the rubbish pile for one of our scenes.

We believed him.

Since it was drizzling, I took out my umbrella to protect the camera. (I was the only one who remembered to bring an umbrella. Although, actually, it wasn’t so much of remembering as the fact that I always have an umbrella in my bag, anyway.)

Guess who had to hold my cute little pink umbrella? Hehe.

Last stop for the day.

Kan found this hawker who sells, among other things, char kway teow and bak kut teh. He set up his camera at the stall without a word and started filming this uncle cooking.

The uncle didn’t even flinch. Cool.

When he was done (I mean Kan), he thanked the uncle, shook his hand and gave him RM20 as a token of appreciation.

I thought that went pretty well!

Stay tuned for Day 3!

My bags aren’t packed, I’m not ready to go

So, I’m leaving for KL first thing tomorrow morning to star in my first feature film and I’ve developed a humongous pimple on my forehead.

It’s probably stress that caused it, although it’s not stress over having to star in a feature film, but stress over having to finish up all my work and projects and tie up loose ends before stepping into beautiful Malaysia, Truly Asia, where I will have no access to my life-saving dual 19″ LCD monitors and 24/7 mobile broadband.

I will, instead, be hunched over, squinting at my mini laptop in the middle of the night (after filming), trying to fulfill all my blogging and e-mail quota for the day before I go blind and grow even more pimples.

Critics will no doubt have a field day praising me for my acting chops by calling me Shen Qiaoyun the Pimple Girl, whose show-stealing pimple deserves an Oscar for being so very realistic in its portrayal of a pimple.

I have one day left to get all my business in order but I still have 46,394 years worth of business to get in order.

So, to heck with everything. If something isn’t done, it’ll just have to wait till I’m back.

In the meantime, I will (unless my director abducts me to some ulu part of Malaysia where wireless Internet access will cost me about $36,000 per kilobyte because I’ll have to call home for the connection) still be updating this blog daily (weather permitting) with all the juicy details of my alien abduction (limbs permitting).

Thankfully, I will at least get to enjoy a couple of nights of civilisation. One of the hotels we’ll be staying in is Hotel Istana, a five-star hotel that features a cute girl performing a manicure in your bed.

We will kind of be driving around the country like nomads (but with a car), ending up in Penang for the last leg of our trip, and I don’t know yet what other hotels (or hovels) are in store for us.

Should be fun finding out, I suppose.