How I Made A Short Film With Nokia N95 (Part 2)

Part 1 is here.

14th of January, 2008. Arriving at the location of the shoot, which was the REACH PUBLISHING office, home of the PC.COM Magazine, I started surveying the office space, finding the appropriate place to shoot the video.

Not an easy task since it was still a normal work day for the REACH PUBLISHING employees.

"I'm going to be your one-woman crew." Erna announced, hauling a bag of props that I've asked her to buy for me. I examined the contents, ensuring everything I needed was there.



Two feathers? Check.

Fifteen lighters? Check.

Two flashlights?

Erna and I immediately headed towards the stationary store nearby to make our purchase.

Two flashlights? Check.

"Well, we have everything we need. Now we just need to get an actor to play our mad inventor." I said.

Aside from Darren, who knew he was going to play the victimized James Bond, no one had been chosen to act in the video.

"Make your pick." Erna gestured at everyone in the office.

"Hmmmm." I frowned, not knowing how to pick since I barely knew anyone in the office.

Not a single person there looked like an obvious megavillain. No one was bald, had pale skin, had a facial scar, had blood trickling out from an eye, had metallic teeth...

I sighed.

Erna pointed to a skinny, bespectacled guy sitting at the corner of the room, working quietly on his computer.

"You can try him. He's pretty articulate." She said.

And then she excused herself to attend a quick meeting with her publisher, leaving me alone to break the bad news to the skinny, bespectacled guy.

"Hey man," I said, interrupting the guy from his work. "You have any acting experience?"

"I doubt anyone in the office has any, besides Erna." The soft-spoken guy shook his head, while referring to Erna's long-ago appearance in Amir Muhammad's mockumentary BIG DURIAN, which Ming Jin the mentor shot.

Although having Erna as the mad inventor was a consideration, I needed the one-woman crew, so I had to break the bad news to the poor sod, whose name I later knew was Magessan.

"Well, man, I think I'll need your help with this. It's a simple skit, not much of a challenge, you just need to talk to the camera, the script is pretty simple." I said, trying to sound as convincing as possible, especially about the script part, which I didn't really write then.

Magessan was reluctant. "Isn't there anyone else you can ask?"

I was adamant. "Nope."

Magessan conceded defeat and agreed to act before returning to his work. Quickly I started scribbling on Erna's notepad (attempting to do the storyboard while writing the opening monologue of the first scene).

I was done when Erna came out of her publisher's office moments later.

And we started rehearsing Magessan by having him read the lines I had written just minutes earlier. A daunting task for him, but for the sake of his company, the first-time actor suffered all these in silence.

Once the publisher's office was empty, we headed into the room and began our shoot.

I brought both my camcorder and the Nokia N95 into the room, still haven't made chosen which to use for the shoot.

The more reliable camcorder that I used to make countless videos, including my video experiments like A BORING STORY and FORCED LABOUR?

Or the less reliable Nokia N95, which I've never touched until a couple of days earlier?

Using the camcorder would mean that I have to incorporate the Nokia N95 into the storyline.

Using the Nokia N95 would be quite an adventurous risk.

I picked the latter, and placed the mobile phone on my tripod, adjusting a good enough shot for Magessan's monologue.

"Hold on, what is my character's name?" Magessan asked, noticing the space I left at the end of the sentence 'I am Dr _____'

"Something that sounds, ah, stupid." I said. "Doctor White? Doctor Black? Doctor Yes? Aaaargh!"

"How about Doctor Boleh?" Erna suggested.

"Boleh. So he can say 'Doctor Boleh, boleh!' What an awful humourless pun! All right, we'll use it then!" I said. (Boleh means 'can' in Malay, as in 'I can do it', an irritatingly popular slogan in the nation is 'Malaysia, Boleh', which means 'Malaysia, Can!')

And so Dr Bhol Le was born at that very moment (though the exact spelling of Dr Bhol Le was never decided until days later, during postproduction).

After a few takes, Magessan got the monologue right.

I called for a break.

Magessan and Erna returned to their desks.

"All right, NOW I write the second scene!" I declared, attracting glances from others who finally realized that I was doing this whole thing on the fly.

Hurriedly, I wrote some lines for Dr Bhol Le where he introduced even more of his outlandish but ultimately useless inventions. The following would be things that ran through my mind while I was writing, this time I cease using the stream-of-consciousness literary device to sound less pretentious:

"Okay, we'll have an umbrella that can only be used indoors, um... and nuclear bomb lighters, which are nuclear bombs that look like lighters, and ah, solar-powered flashlights that can only be lit up by normal flashlights in the dark, then we'll also have the Chinofier, which was inspired by Justin's long-ago webcomic posted on my blog, a dastardly invention that transforms non-Chinese people into Chinese. In the webcomic, Kimberlycun was a Chinofied version of Reese Witherspoon, yes!"

And voila, another few scenes written.

After shooting a scene or two with Magessan, Erna cut in:

"Hey, we have to hurry and do some scenes with our James Bond. He's heading off to a meeting at 5:30pm!"

I looked at my watch. It was 4pm then.

Swiftly we prepared to do the scenes with Darren and Magessan together. I burst into the room in dramatic fashion while Erna was practising with the two guys. Darren was in the midst of doing a fake but shrill-sounding laugh.

"All right, as you may know already, this scene is simple, our poor James Bond will find himself being tickle tortured by the sadistic Dr Bhol Le." I explained. "And James Bond will laugh within the inch of his life."

I paused and held up the two feathers Erna bought for me.

"But you don't have to worry about that. You're really going to get tickled."

"He's not ticklish." Magessan said. Darren nodded.

"WHAT? How could this be?" I exclaimed, the two feathers in my hand went limp immediately.

"I can fake it!" Darren said.

After spending most of the 23 years of my life being so ticklish, I was thrown off by the idea of someone not being ticklish, so I contemplated angstfully for a few moments. Without being able to impose method acting upon him, I may have to truly rely on the guy's acting.

"All right. Let's do it then." I said, making a mental note that if I were to do any more tickle torture scenes in the future, I would ask the subjects whether they were ticklish or not.

"Action!"

And thus, in my spoof of the infamous Casino Royale 'torture scene where a nude 007 got whacked in the balls', I had Dr Bhol Le tickle torturing James Bond with the two feathers of his Ultimate Tickle Torture Device (tm), and James Bond emitting a ghastly sounding, cringe-inducing laughter that rang throughout the office.

The shoot went on smoothly and ended earlier than expected (was expecting to pull an all-nighter, perhaps I underestimated my own efficiency, haha). Darren headed off to his meeting, I started packing.

I would spend an hour the next day shooting another quick scene, and also some brief reshoots, but the next and final part of my 'How I Made A Short Film With Nokia N95' series would be about the agony I had during the editing of the video.

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