When work is fun and games

I can finally look normal again after three months of looking like a dorky teacher.

I’m still filming the kids’ drama. I’m still a teacher, but we’ve moved on to the later episodes where my character’s personal life outside of teaching comes into play. I have the chance to wear non-dorky clothes and look normal! Yay.

I realise I’ve never mentioned the title of this drama. So, here are a few details:

The title is SNAP, but it’s a Chinese drama. It will be shown on Sunday mornings on Channel 8, possibly starting on Sep 30. There are 14 episodes, each lasting 30 minutes and I’m in 12 episodes. I think.

This drama series has many directors, each taking charge of different episodes. I think it’ll be very interesting to watch because every episode is going to have a different flavour.

Today’s director is Martin, who is also the overall project manager and the person who normally helps me take photographs using my camera while I’m filming.

But since he’s the director today, he doesn’t have time to horse around with my camera, so I’m my own photographer today and Martin is my subject. Haha.

Martin has a tough job managing the kids today because they have a fun toy as a prop.

A wired laptop!

You know how kids get engrossed when they’re having fun.

It’s just them and their world.

Well, since this is a kids’ drama, the production is full of kids.

Here are two big ones.

On the left is Ler, who directs other episodes. He looks into the camera defiantly because… I don’t know. Because it’s fun?

I love working with creative people. They’re like boxes of chocolates, like, you know, you never know what you’re gonna get.

On the right is Melvin, the producer, and this is his house we’re filming in.

Tell you one secret.

Melvin’s house is so big that it’s used as the prop house for two different girls in the show (to save them the trouble of finding two separate houses to film in.) Of course, the audience won’t know it because different parts of the house are used for each girl.

But I know and I think it’s funny. Hahahaha!

Yeah, I know. I’m very easily amused.

For example, I amused myself playing around with my camera’s macro function while waiting for the crew to set up the lights around me.

I like photos with foreground/background compositions. Not this particular photo I’ve taken, of course. It’s a stupidly composed test shot just for illustration.

I couldn’t do very much because I only had my fingers to use as foreground, plus the crew started to look at me weird for taking photos of my own fingers.

I’ve learnt a lot from this shoot. Especially from my favourite girls, Jiaxuan and Almond.

They’ve taught me all sorts of cute games and riddles and stuff that girls do to amuse themselves.

Ah, but no fun and games for now because it’s back to work.

Then again, acting is fun and games.

Once, I was filming a scene in which my character was listening to a student’s sob story. It was a serious scene, even a little touching.

During one take, as I delivered my last line, and with the camera focused on my face looking at my student empathetically, and just before the director yelled “cut!” to wrap the scene, someone’s phone rang.

The music was the chorus of “Killing Me Softly”.

The song came at such an apt moment, at the exact time a real soundtrack might appear in a movie. But it was hilarious because of that and because the song ringing out turned our drama into comedy.

I tried to keep a straight face because the director hadn’t yelled “cut” but then the entire crew started laughing and I had to join in.

Moments like that make great NG footages. But, more specifically, they make working on a TV or movie set so magical and heartwarming.

I love watching NG footages because they allow me to experience the fun and the magic behind the scenes. But being an actress is even better! I get to enjoy these moments not only vicariously, but also in person!

I think all movies and TV shows should show NG footages at the end, don’t you?

Anyhow, in the next couple of weeks, I will be alternating between looking dorky and looking normal as I film the later episodes. I can’t wait for the show to wrap because it’s really very tiring being a teacher. But I think I’m gonna miss it, too.

People never know what they want, huh?

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.

I look like teacher meh?

I’m a happy actress.

I have booked a drama series that will keep me occupied till the end of June, and then some.

I have acting classes once a week (fun!).

I have many new acting books waiting to be read.

I’m happiest when my life revolves around acting. It makes me dance around and smile lots and generally make people around me go crazy putting up with my nonsense.

I thought I had lost the role because they called me like two weeks later than they said they would. So I was quite happily surprised when I was told I got the job. That’s the 13-episode drama series I mentioned in the post about measuring myself. There are plans to make more episodes if the show is well-received, which would be so cool.

Although it’s not a dream role, it’s good enough to feel happy about because it’s almost a leading role. The main leads are a boy and a girl since it’s a kids’ drama. The secondary leads are two adults, one being my character (teacher) and the other being the boy’s father. My character is also involved in a romantic subplot, so that’s one more dimension than most of my MediaCorp roles.

Me!

My teacher image. Not that different from the real me — duh — because I wore my own clothes (only for this one episode because the sponsored clothes aren’t ready yet).

This was the exact same outfit I wore to the audition. Haha. After I arrived on the set and changed into the outfit, the project manager was amused. “Hey, isn’t this the same outfit you wore to the audition?” LOL.

Fine! I’m pathetic! I have like one mature outfit in my wardrobe!

The first day of shoot went well (for me). I don’t know about the crew. I think they were really stressed out because we were filming in a primary school during a normal school day. Absolute pandemonium, especially during lunch time. Kids yelling from all directions all the time, making the sound people’s jobs very difficult.

We were prepping for a shot, and this is so deja vu-ish. I’ve been a teacher in a feature film (I Not Stupid 2), in an English drama (Like My Own) and in a TV commercial (Toyo Klic Correction Pen).

And now I’m a teacher in a Chinese Drama.

Do I look so much like a teacher? I don’t know. And the shoot came so suddenly I didn’t even have time to study the script, much less go observe real teachers in action.

I wish my dear cousin Faith were here in Singapore so she can give me pointers. I think she’s the best teacher in the world beause she knows exactly how to handle kids and kids just love her to bits. She’s got a cushy teaching job in Hong Kong now, which is great for her, but I miss her!

My kids:

Kids are so precocious these days. They are more vocal than when I was a kid myself. During the shoot, I had kids trying to talk to me even while the director was giving all of us directions.

My director (one of them, anyway):

This drama series has many directors who take turns filming different episodes, which is typical of drama serials. It’s kind of nice getting to work with so many different people. But it makes it hard to develop a close working relationship.

But that doesn’t really matter because what really matters is that I’m a happy actress!