I'll be lying if I tell you that I wasn't nervous before the shoot. But then, I'm usually nervous AND excited before a shoot. Unlike the previous FROM BHOL LE WITH LOVE, which I shot using a Nokia N95, with the help of a one-woman crew (that's Erna), CHICKEN RICE MYSTERY is the biggest short film production I've ever undertaken to date. Possibly a longer story with a bigger cast and a bigger crew.
The first scene we shot for the day involved our main actor, Ming Wei, and the legendary actress Lai Meng (or Li Ming in Mandarin, her name 黎明, which means 'dawn', is same as the Hong Kong pop star Leon Lai), who plays the protagonist's grandmother.
Involved in countless local and Singaporean productions, the veteran actress definitely has one of the most recognizable faces in the country. Even Mei Fen the Assistant Director couldn't resist herself from fangirling ("I've watched you on TV ever since I was little!") when Lai Meng entered the house.
The scene was shot at my front porch. It's ironic that I never realized how nice the place looked until I saw it through a camera lens. I just came to a conclusion that the magic of cinema CAN turn the most mundane into something different, just like how something I see everyday outside my house becomes something else entirely.
Anyway, despite the initial scare that the audio wasn't working, the shoot went on pretty smoothly. (Hell, I was so excited during our first few takes that I pretty much cried out 'action' before the tape was rolling)
Ming Jin the Mentor demonstrating to Sound Girl Miharu how to use a boom mic
Me rehearsing Ming Wei and Lai Meng
As the sun began to set, we hurriedly shoot another scene featuring Ming Wei and Mei Fen The Assistant Director's cameo. Mei Fen herself is a model (for Deal Or No Deal) and an actress (you know the Brand's Bird's Nest advertisement where a young woman found her mother after 20 years of separation, and the mother looked even younger than her? Mei Fen played the mom), so it was easy for her to improvise her own lines too. Her lines were in Hokkien, I don't understand Hokkien, but I THINK I've gotten something special...
It was too dark for me to take a still photo of that scene, but it worked perfectly as a 'femme fatale'-style scene I wanted (the film plays on noir conventions).
I'm excited. The next day of shoot begins on this Saturday, and I'm getting even more unexpected cameo appearances. :)