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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

New short film, AFTERNOON RIVER, follow-up to KINGYO

So yes, I have completed KINGYO last week, and gearing up for its screening at the FUYAJO CINEMA FESTIVAL in Shinjuku Wald 9 on the 5th of June.

Time to rest? Barely. After taking a breather for a couple of days, I began work on my latest short film, AFTERNOON RIVER.

On the 11th of April, birthday of Speed's hiro, who is destined to lament that she never got to marry me, and also the day before I returned to Tokyo. Lesly, Han and I went to Port Klang for a shoot. It was a location hunt of sorts to familiarize myself with the place in preparation for future assignments.

I swiftly came with an idea of making a short film, but in an entirely unstructured manner. There was no clear script except for a vague outline. We brought Grace along to act for us. Grace, whose last collaboration with me was my student film GIRL DISCONNECTED, was in for a rude awakening when she knew nothing about what she was going to do until we were in the car.

The exchange was like this:

Grace: How come you didn't give me a script?

Me: There isn't any. Whatever it is, it is in here. (points at my own oversized head)

Grace: ...

Me: The film begins with your character's first day of work in a Bak Kut Teh restaurant.

Grace: And then?

Me: Ahem. We'll... figure that out later. You just have to immerse yourself into the Port Klang environment.

After working with the biggest crew I ever had with KINGYO, and in an entirely structural environment (what we shot was almost everything I wrote in the script, there was little space for improvisation), I decided to go back to basics. Back to a skeleton crew, back to improvisation. A re-acquaintance with the chaotic nature of Malaysian filmmaking. More room to experiment, more room to sharpen my filmmaking skills by attempting something different from before for the sake of improving myself.

The entire film is shot with a Nikon D90 because I wanted to experience its capabilities myself. It was an odd sight for a bystander, that a DSLR is used for the video shooting while the bigger camera we brought along (the Panasonic DVX100, the exact camera I used to shoot my earlier shorts, CHICKEN RICE MYSTERY and LOVE SUICIDES, was delegated to serve only as an audio recording equipment, because the sound from D90 video is mono)

From morning to afternoon, we shot in a historical Bak Kut Teh restaurant that belongs to the descendants of its founder. Yes, those who run the restaurant now are the grandsons of the man who invented Bak Kut Teh at Port Klang back in 1926.

Shooting AFTERNOON RIVER in the Bak Kut Teh restaurant

I don't really visit Port Klang much, so it was an adventure for me as well, to see so many buildings of historical value, and some, unfortunately abandoned, forgotten and ravaged by time.

Han and Grace preparing for a crucial scene in AFTERNOON RIVER

The shoot was relatively smooth. We merely came up with scenarios on the spot, drawing inspiration from the locations.

We ended the shoot at Pulau Indah, an island where the West Port of Klang is situated.

Shooting AFTERNOON RIVER... by the river

Grace and Lesly the Cinematographer during the AFTERNOON RIVER shoot

It was already evening, we had only moments to spare. Then we were suddenly hit by heavy rain.

No big deal, I immediately implemented that into the storyline as well.

Anyway, yesterday I started work on editing AFTERNOON RIVER after shoving it aside for the past few weeks to concentrate on KINGYO (being a guy, I'm not much of a multi-tasker). Made quite a number of progress, didn't go home until nearly 4 in the morning.

Here are some screen captures from the footage we shot.

Afternoon River screencap

Afternoon River screencap 2

That's all I have so far. You might hear more about this film in the future, I hope.

Now, I go back to sleep before I resume editing work.