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!

An umbrella for the pregnant lady, thanks

On the second day of my Tisch Asia shoot, we hailed a cab to take us to our shoot location.

The location was 300m away.

I think the cab uncle wasn’t too amused, especially since it took us five minutes to load the vehilcle with film equipment and props. He stood by the side all the while, giving us dark looks.

Maybe he didn’t like us bringing dead plants into his cab.

After dropping us off at our location, he didn’t drive away. He got out of the car and spent five minutes going around it with a cloth, wiping down the passenger seats and the boot.

I swear we didn’t puke or yell or do anything radical or, in fact, do anything at all other than be model taxi passengers.

Well, there was the fact that I was pregnant. About four or five months along, maybe.

But I’m sure pregnant ladies get into cabs all the time and don’t give anyone a hard time, unless you’re talking about women who jump into taxis because their water has broken and their husbands are in Timbuktu or something and they need to get to the hospital pronto but on the way they make a mess in the taxi or, worse, deliver their babies right there and then.

That could be traumatising and, I suppose, understandable if a taxi driver develops a phobia of pregnant women after something like that happens to him.

But I’m sure I didn’t look like I was gonna pop a load anytime soon.

It’s fake, anyway. My foetus is a Mickey Mouse pouch stuffed with cotton wool and secured to my belly with bandages.

The red umbrella is our only insurance against skin cancer during the three-day shoot under the loving caress of the sun’s flaming fingers. I’ve never known Singapore to be this hot.

But I had to put the umbrella down many times, during actual takes and when having light readings taken off me.

Louis (my many-times co-actor), had many scenes lying on the ground. He especially needed the umbrella to avoid having his face barbequed.

The crew also carried umbrellas whenever possible.

It was so hot that an umbrella was needed even in the shade.

And even the camera needed one.

Anyway, since Louis was on the set, I had a little more time to take photos (like when they’re setting him up and don’t need me).

But I took advantage of a brief lull to take a quick self-timered picture of us. I love the timer function.

Then, I moved on to catching people unawares.

It’s weird. Everyone’s wearing some shade of blue. It makes the set so… blue.

Of course, the mood was anything but.

I like the pace set by this team. Not too slow but not breakneck fast, and something’s always happening (unless we were waiting out the rain).

At about 4pm, a thunderstorm suddenly broke so we were forced to wrap for the day.

But we still had one more day to finish up, so I guess it wasn’t too bad.

It’s always nice to dance in the rain right after being barbequed alive.

Perfect way to fall sick, if you’re not already totally cooked.

Most tiring, tedious shoot of all time

I feel ready to keel over and die right now.

We did this scene like 40 times today. It’s a two-and-a-half-page scene, which translates to about 2.5 minutes of actual running time.

First, we did a wide shot with the camera capturing everyone. Because the director is a perfectionist, everything had to be perfect in the entire take or we had to redo the whole thing from scratch. Because it was 2.5 minutes long and involved many kids and many lines and a high energy level, it was very hard to get it perfect each time. We would play each take till the end and then start over again, hoping that the next take would be IT.

The kids were finally bribed with ice-cream if they could do it perfect. But after a few takes and the perfect take didn’t happen, the ice-cream didn’t happen either. Poor kids.

A long time later, when the wide shot was finally a good take, we went for close-ups on every single last one of us (six). For each close-up, we had to again act out the entire 2.5 minutes, for as many takes as it took for each person’s close-up to be perfect. Everyone else had to maintain the same energy level even if it wasn’t his/her close-up.

I only had three hours of very restless sleep last night (woke up every 15 minutes to toss and turn), so I was already ready to keel over and die without the added burden of having to act super energetic and happy 40 times 2.5 minutes. It was supposed to be a very lively scene with fast-paced bantering and lots of laughter.

It also didn’t help that it was a supremely hot and humid day and I was in uncomfortable clothing and we couldn’t turn on the fans in the room because it interfered with the sound. I also had blisters in my feet from wearing new shoes.

Can die.

If not for my indefatigable will to survive in showbiz, I would have just died on the spot. You don’t know what is hell until you try acting happy and excited 40 times in a row at a time when your body and mind are suffering major sleep deprivation.

I was on the set for over 12 hours, starting from 6.45 am, filming a total of four scenes.

It’s all over now!! Whheeee! My bed is looking very welcome.