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!

God is a Woman — Day 1

I wrote this post over two days on Notepad while travelling (and in between filming). It’s my third day in KL now but I feel like I’ve been here forever!

Because I have a lot of trouble getting an Internet connection in most of our filming locations and even at the hotel, even when I’m willing to pay for it, I can’t do on-the-spot live blogging in little bits as I originally planned.

So, here’s a delayed but extended blogcast.

Filming in KL — Day 1
Oct 6, 2008

9:20 am

I’m waiting at a bus-stop for my director to pick me up. I’m a little embarrassed about carrying so much stuff. I’m expecting him to gasp in shock when he arrives.

9:30 pm

He’s here and he’s not gasping at my baggage. Phew. We drive on to Maria’s place.

Maria is my co-actress and this is her on the right. She’s so pretty I could stare at her all day. ;)

9:50 am

After getting her, we shoot a short sequence.

And then I take over the wheel and drive us to the Tuas Checkpoint because our director wants to film me driving.

This is Kan Lume, our director, and an award-winning one at that. He’s framing a shot on his compact camera.

He’s a one-man-crew for this film because he enjoys DIY filmmaking. And we’re working on an experimental film with the working title of “God is a Woman”, about two women travelling to KL to seek their fortunes as models.

In the drivers’ seat, I manage to delay our trip by making two wrong turns, which is typical of me. (I had warned Kan beforehand and he was very aware of the risk of giving me the wheel.)

11:30 am

We get through both Singapore and JB checkpoints without much incident and stop at a nearby petrol station to shoot.

There’s a pink bus at the station. Cute!

I have a solo scene in a smelly male toilet while Maria has one in the car.

It’s really quite cool. I’ve never had an acting gig like that before, where we shoot while we’re travelling. Like a road trip movie.

It even feels like we’re really on a holiday.

12:20 pm

I’m now in the back seat of the car, trying not to get nauseous as I blog on my tiny MSI wind as we speed along the North-South Highway.

3 pm

We stop at a rest stop and Kan turns me and Maria into stuntwomen.

We climb up and down this treacherous hill (decorated with sneaky loose pebbles and mimosa) about three times. Kan sacrificed two of his t-shirts to protect our hands as we scrabble up and down the hill.

And then I get intimately acquainted with some tall prickly grass up on the hill.

What fun!

6 pm

We meet up with our Malaysian co-actors, Dean and Nash.

Dinner at a semi-posh Italian restaraunt which boasts strange toilet signage.

It takes me the second visit before I vaguely understand how either duck represents each gender.

8 pm

More filming at Dean’s apartment, which is just one minute walk away from Hotel Istana. Dean has wireless access so I snatch minutes in between shots to upload a short blog while the guys set up.

10 pm

Maria and I are released to check into our hotel rooms. OH MY WHAT A ROOM.

Maria and I have separate rooms.

Apparently, this hotel is a favourite among many dignitaries.

I have a view of the Petrnoas Twin Towers.

The broadband charges, though, are RM15 an hour. Might as well kill me now. Plus it is super problematic, with faulty network cables and dodgy connection.

2:15 am

I am ready to drop dead now but I have a restless sleep because I’m freezing. Turning the thermostat up by 10 degrees C doesn’t seem to do much.

5 am

RISE AND SHINE FOR DAY 2!

Inside the dressing room

There is no feeling in the world better than performing in front of a responsive live audience (well, with the exception of savouring a very tasty bbq chicken wing).

Gads, I shouldn’t have said that. Now I’m hungry.

I shall attempt to distract myself by…

Actually, I am very distracted today. I have been attempting to get this blogpost going since 40 minutes ago and I’m still at the fourth line now because I keep going away to FB chat and MSN chat and watch stupid YouTube videos that the silly people I’m chatting with keep linking to me.

Dammit!

Well, it’s a Saturday and I’m in quite a relaxed mood. I’m allowing myself a few hours to relax and ignore deadlines before I go bonkers.

And now, a photo to break the wall of text I’m unintentionally creating.

Dressing room!

[We love big bright light bulbs that blind us and heat up the room]

For this week’s performance, the dressing room is shared by about 12 actresses. (The guys get another room.) There are toilets and bathrooms and even a washing machine in here, which is nice.

It can get pretty crowded when everyone’s inside but, averagely, we have four or five in here at any given time because the rest are backstage standing by.

It can also get smelly. All kinds of smells I don’t really want to describe, including a raw meat smell because one of the props for one of the plays is a real raw chicken.

And it gets really noisy.

At all times, a monitor is feeding us footage from the stage while actresses are either busy making very loud and strange noises to warm up the vocals or busy chatting, though I don’t know how they can hear each other through that din.

Of course, there is also one actress busy camwhoring.

[She decided to take photo evidence of the mess]

That’s my costume. I think I look like a lawyer. Haha.

I know I don’t look ugly in that suit, like I have been accused of falsely advertising. But I haven’t shown you the hair and makeup yet!

Like I mentioned before, I’m acting as a rat.

Some of you might protest that rats don’t wear suits. Others of you who have a perverse sense of humour might agree that some rats wear suits.

That I leave entirely up to you.

And, now, the ratifying transformation.

Ta-dah!

[The whiskers want for some trimming]

LOL.

Okay lah, it’s not that ugly. It’s more funny, I guess. It’s only ugly when I make those crazy expressions on stage.

Most people think I’m supposed to be a cat when they first see this. Well, short of attaching fake incisors, which would really impede my speech (and my character is one garrulous rat), I don’t know how I can make myself look more ratty than catty.

Doesn’t really matter. It all becomes clear in the play, anyway.

Smiley rat!

[He was lulled into a false sense of security]

Which won’t be seen in the performance because my character doesn’t smile and doesn’t act cute.

My character is a bitch.

And so fun to play.

Ah, acting can be so fun!

The downside to this makeup is that the black stuff used to draw my nose gets into my pores and, even after I clean it with four different kinds of cleansers, I still look like I have a bad case of blackheads. Haha. I think I have to go for a good, long facial after this is over.

And I have to wash my hair when I get home late each night because it’s all gelled stiff to make me look very severe.

Right profile:

[Being a statue is very tiring]

Left profile:

[The bright lights are very hypnotising]

Room profile:

[They were all terrified of her]

Intriguing, eh?

There are still three more performances to go. Ticketing details here if you’re interested.

The whole show actually runs for about 2.5 hours because some plays drag on longer than 10 minutes. Mine is the last play and I think it’s pretty much about 10 minutes!

Come watch and remember to bring your sense of humour! It’s always sweet for actors when their jokes get laughed at.

See you!

My TV clip on YouTube

Due to popular demand, I’ve finally uploaded one of my TV appearances on YouTube.

This is an episode from the recent Stories of Love series on Channel 5, which I blogged about here and here. I’ve selected a few scenes and compiled them into this clip. Sorry, I can’t post the whole show because it’s too long!

Yes, I know. I’m super nerdy and super ugly in the show. Sorry if I disappointed anyone. But I really enjoyed the role, so I would choose to do it again if I had to!

In case anyone is confused, I’m the speccy one.

Well, it’s more than five minutes, so, happy downloading!

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.