Saturday, 28 June 2008


It's pretty hard maintaining a blog while in production. For the past 2 weeks, I had been knee deep in another production. We shot for 8 days straight, from break of dawn, to dusk and beyond. I reached home on average around 11pm, and was awake the next day at 6.30am (very early for me). I lost around 2kgs in that period, and got a cold I'm still trying to shake off.

Well, that's the life of a filmmaker, they say. You're a brick layer, more or less. I do like physical work. Somehow, I much prefer it to say, sitting in an aircon room looking at some paperwork. Or being in meetings. That must be a reason why I like shooting outdoors. Most of my films are shot outdoors. Of course, the advantages of shooting outdoors are many:

1. If you find the right location, say a fishing dock, the production design work is done for you.
2. If you shoot in the mornings or at dusk, You will probably not need many lights. I am a fan of "the light of God". It is natural and beautiful.
3. You can somehow move faster and cover more ground when you are outdoors because there is more space and you are not restricted to say, a room, or a narrow hallway. Indoor shoots tend to be draggy, and people move slower. The air begins to thicken after a few hours in a room, I can tell you that.

The disadvantages:
1. Noise.
2. Weather. You can't control it.
3. People you can't control. Say if you shoot in a market. People keep looking at your camera. For this reason, I like to find sort of isolated locales.

For me, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. I can deal with noise. The weather will be decent sooner or later. People in general are nice (well, I'm an optimist).

I like to drive around places and just find stuff. I have a fascination with old stuff; basically anything that's kinda old and cool looking. I like new stuff too, of course. But old stuff photograph better. Old stuff look better on film and video. There's a history, unspoken stories in say, a dilapidated hut, or an abandoned whore house. (I believe you can find a few of those in Brickfields- haha).

In this posting, I would like to point out the folks of Kuala Selangor, some of whom participated in the film.

Above is a picture of a guy who plays a "lottery result slip" seller. He's one of those guys who photocopy results of the day's winning lottery numbers, then cut them up into strips and sells it to people for 20 cents or so. Back in the day, I suppose before cell phones and internet, you'd see these guys at traffic lights walking the aisles of stopped cars with their hands stretched out, displaying the result slips. If you had put some money on some 4D number and can't wait till tomorrow morning's paper to tell you you've lost, you could get the answer right there and then.

Somehow, those guys don't exist anymore. One of those occupations made obsolete. Anyway he's really a cool guy. If you come to Cathay Cineleisure to watch ELEPHANT AND THE SEA, you'll see him in a few scenes.

This older gentleman above here is a blacksmith. We were shooting right next to his shop, and once he'd finished work, he decided to sit outside his shop and read the papers, and hence, became our free extra! He wore these really big reading glasses which made him look funny. But he's quite a blacksmith. It's too bad we didn't included any footage of him shaping iron, cause he really looked like he's been doing it for years, which he has I'm sure. And here's another thing I like: Old bicycles, like the one beside him.

These are a bunch of kids whose parents owned a tailorshop. We were shooting a scene in front of the shop. It's a really cool and old shop. I think it has probably been there for a few generations. Maybe a few hundred years. Well maybe 50 years.

Here is the tailorshop in the background. Sitting with Berg Lee is a local Kuala Selangor man who plays a "client" of Berg's character.

And finally, here is a pictures of some kids, from Yun Ding's (the character Berg plays) "house". The house is next to the river, and the owner is a clam farm worker. These are his kids. If you've been to KS, you will know that clam farming is a big thing there. I used to dislike clams. These clams, called Sea hum in Cantonese, is bloody in taste and overloaded with iron. When I was young, my mother used to tell me that if I ate sea hum, I would probably die of iron poisoning or something of that sort. So I avoided it. In KS, they put sea hum is a lot of stuff. In their Laksa, all kinds of noodle and rich dishes. When you walk the banks of the river, you'd be stepping on millions of the shells. When waves hit the bank, you'd hear the symphony of shells crashing into each other. It's some kind of music, I can tell you that.

Anyway, that's a part of Kuala Selangor for you. The village here is called Pasir Penambang. A nice place to have some sea food. Or shoot a film.