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My Short Films

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Nosebleed

Still suffering from jet lag, I found it difficult to sleep last night. I stayed up the whole night, watching both the Japan - Paraguay match, and the last half hour of the Spain - Portugal match. Stomach felt queasy, another bout of food poisoning-like symptoms were creeping over me, though back then I was unable to pinpoint the actual source of my discomfort, and believed I might be having trouble adjusting to my bed again. (I disregarded the fact that I slept pretty comfortably through the afternoon after I got back from the airport, I thought I was merely too exhausted then to notice the discomfort)

I dozed off finally at 9am and woke up less than 2 hours later, feeling a familiar sensation in my nose. Blood again, was pouring out of my right nostril, profusely. I said 'again', because obviously I am used to this occurrence.

nosebleed beauty
Photo by Shhh Yu


All my life I've had a sensitive nose prone to nosebleeds, making me ill-equipped to face heat, or the constant sunlight. Yes, my nose is as fragile as my soul. This, perhaps, may be why I always hated summer, why I would rather stay in a room with air-conditioner, than to expose myself to the glare of the sun. I am like a vampire, a manlier version of Edward Cullen.

I looked at some droplets of blood that splattered about my bedsheets, and wondered in amusement what people would have thought if they were to enter my room and see the blood stains. I remembered the days in primary school and in secondary school, when there were more than a few instances that I would suddenly have a nosebleed. I remember two incidents at the secondary school most clearly, once, I rushed into the room of the Red Cross Society for help. and it was probably with them that I first learnt that to stop a nosebleed, one should tilt the head FORWARD, and not backward, while pinching the fleshy part of the nose. Usage of bags of ice is actually unnecessary.

The second time, I rushed into the teachers' office for help, it was another sudden occurrence and I didn't have time to run to the Red Cross Society's. Caused quite a scene, numerous teachers surrounding me, helping to stem the flow. There were some teachers who had acquired a monstrous reputation in school for being such stern disciplinarians, so when they helped to stop my nosebleed, I felt as if I was looking at them from a different light, they became my saviours.

The treatment wasn't that complicated, I started drinking more fruit juices in the morning, and somehow that minimized the nosebleed. Not entirely, of course, I still remember during the shoot of WOMAN ON FIRE LOOKS FOR WATER, when it was almost everyday, that my nose would bleed a little. It was a common sight. Morbid at first, but everyone got used to it in following days.

Attila the Hun died of nosebleed, got suffocated by the blood during his sleep. It wasn't the coolest way to die. While I was suffering from my nosebleed this morning, of course I didn't really think of Attila the Hun at all, it was more like "Jeez, been a while since I've bled that much. When is it going to stop?"

Nosebleed stopped a while later. Yet there was the subsequent diarrhoea (suffered that last month as well). Lots of visits to the toilet, leaving me weakened, I trudged to the lab to meet my professor, he called me yesterday telling me there were some documents I had to sign, he wasn't there. I stayed in the lab for a short while, brainstorming via Gmail chat some new film story ideas with Ming Jin, then realized I was getting a bit weary. Better to just call it a day and go home.

And went home I did. Yet how odd it was, to find myself reminiscing about my secondary school days just because of my morning nosebleed. People remember the excitement of first love, the warmth of friends, the amusing adventures of dealing with teachers, the triumph of nice academic grades, or the crushing disappointment of mediocre grades and rejected love, yet me, on this day I remember mostly about my nosebleeds.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Brest, France. A travelogue of sorts.

Ask me what I thought of Brest, two days earlier, when I was stuck there after missing my flight, I would have launch into an expletive-filled tirade. But now that I've reached Tokyo, and slept through the afternoon, I look at Brest, not with nostalgia, but with acceptance that the place played a rather big role in my latest trip.

My workshop was mostly in Brignogan, which is 30-45 mins away from Brest, by car. But due to circumstances I had never expected, I actually realized I have spent three and a half nights in Brest, compared to the 6 in Brignogan, I ended up becoming quite familiar with the city center. It's unlikely that I would ever return to Brest, it's not one of those places that I would go to for personal reasons. So acknowledging that fact does make me feel a little fonder of the place.

Anyway, a short chronicle of my days in Brest.

I flew to France on the 17th of June. Sitting next to me was a woman and her daughter. I slept through almost the entire flight, aside from waking for meals. I was thankful that the child was quiet most of the time. Her mom told me that this wasn't her daughter's first time in a plane, hence the lack of usual cringe-inducing crying noises I would usually hear from toddlers her age.

My neighbour during my flight to France


Stopped at the Charles De Gaulle airport for a few hours, waiting for transit. That was my plane to Brest.


The plane to Brest


Reached Brest at night. Realized I couldn't stay overnight at the airport, asked the lady at the info counter to help recommend me a cheap hotel I could stay for a night. She ended up finding me one of those Ibis Hotels at the town (city?) center.

My hotel is at the Rue Le Siam (Siam Road) of Brest. The entire road seemed to be under construction. This was the view from my room.


View of Rue Le Siam at night


The next day...


Rue le Siam under construction


Their St. Louis Church.


St Louis church in Brest


It looked vaguely familiar. Perhaps it reminded me of Waseda University's Okuma Hall.

I spent another night in Brest.

19th of June. A car was supposed to pick me up and take me to Brignogan. Thinking that I wouldn't be seeing Brest anymore, I took a walk around the area, checking out some of the landmarks of Brest.

The Pont de Recouvrance, which was near my hotel.

Pont de Recouvrance


A panoramic view.

Panoramic view of Brest


Brest Castle.

Brest Castle


This plaque was supposed to honour members of the navy, I think.

At a park next to Brest Castle


I liked the row of trees.

Row of trees


Jean Cras (1879-1932) was a composer and naval officer. His music was inspired by his homeland in Brittany, his African trips and his adventures in the navy.

Jean Cras


Here is a composition from him. I like it.


(click here if you can't see embedded video)


The sun was brilliant.

Brilliant sunlight bathing over an unidentified Brest monument

Unidentified Brest monument


I sat on a bench and started reading Nabokov's THE REAL LIFE OF SEBASTIAN KNIGHT. It was a great read.

Of course, if you read my previous post, you know that I ended up being stuck in Brest for another day.

I returned to the same hotel.

On Sunday, there was a flea market.

Sunday flea market in Brest

Sunday flea market in Brest 2


Although I was forced to stay in Brest for another day, at least there were something to see... like this flea market. Right?

4am the next morning. I finally got to go. Marc of Ibis Hotel suggested that I should have breakfast before I leave.

Crepes of Ibis Hotel, Brest

Ibis Hotel's Marc preparing breakfast

Some other choices for breakfast in Ibis Hotel, Brest


I relented. It would be a while before I would come back to France anyway.

The taxi came.

I reached the airport.

Before I took to the skies again, I wondered whether this would be the last I see of Brest.

Brest Airport

Monday, June 28, 2010

In LIMBO!

That was how I felt when I had to stay in Brest for another day.

The initial plan was simple. After writing my last post, I was supposed to go to the Brest station, catch a train to Paris, enjoy the beautiful countryside scenery during the 4-hour train ride, and then after reaching the Charles De Gaulle, sleep at the airport, and take the plane back to Tokyo.

Alas, things didn't work out, I was shell-shocked when there wasn't a train to be caught, and ended up being forced to reschedule my flight. Thus I ended up in Brest for an extra day. It's a frustrating feeling, when all your mind is prepared to go home, and BOOM! Some unforeseeable crap happened, and I ended up being stuck.

At least I managed to finish Haruki Murakami's HARD-BOILED WONDERLAND AND THE END OF THE WORLD. It was a decent novel. Not mind-blowingly life-altering, but did its job just fine for a lonely night read.

The extra day in Brest allowed me to know people of the Brest Airport people, the pretty girl at the info counter had been particularly helpful and nice, so were the staffers of Air France who were suddenly confronted by the sight of a desperately exasperated crazy Asian dude blabbering about flight changes, whining about exploitative taxi drivers and their ungodly fares, complaining about the erratic airport shuttles etc. (I was very frustrated)

And I got to watch the ENGLAND - GERMANY match at the bar in the airport, and later, in my hotel, the ARGENTINA - MEXICO match. I usually don't care much about football (I'm a lifelong NBA fan), but during World Cup, I pretend to care, happens once every four years anyway.

Anyway, the one day in limbo went by, and I finally took to the skies a few hours ago, flying from Brest to Paris, and now, at the Charles De Gaulle airport, I wait for my transit. There gores my initial plans of sticking my head out of the windows of a train as it passes through the scenic countryside, and feeling the caresses of the wind. Of course, for all I know, I probably cannot really stick my head out of the windows. I will probably never find out.

Sometimes when I'm alone in situations like this, I enjoy the adventure I'm facing, but nonetheless I would also feel a little melancholic, a little introspective, for reasons I can never understand. It's been 3 months since I went through my last film shoot (for the short film INHALATION), quite a long break for me, I just feel eager to create something new.

After the workshop I went through in Brignogan, I know I have a story to develop into my debut feature film, and I feel pretty good about it. The rest of my year will probably be devoted to its development. But I still want to do something else as well, another short? I still have four unpremiered short films. Write a novella? I actually have two unpublished novellas (or novelettes) too. It's another one of those moments when I don't really have a particular idea, just that I'm itching for the creative process.

Of course, it's also the selfish side of me speaking. In the past few months, aside from being busy with the Cannes stuff, a coursemate of mine was also working on a short film of hers for her thesis. She had (almost) zero experience in filmmaking, and not exactly passionate in films, but she wanted to make a film, and she constantly approached me for advice, so I gave her. I'm not the most patient of teachers, and many times I ended up losing my patience, snapping, snarling, cursing. Many times I just don't understand why my own working process just didn't seem to work with others. (the constant question is along the lines of "why can't she do what I was doing? Why can't she approach things the way I did?") Quite frustrating, but I always believe that helping others with their (supposed) creative endeavours is a way to prevent myself from being rusty.

When I dedicated so many days and hours on throwing ideas at her, teaching her etc. (... I think I was anyway, although it's most probably not the case) I started yearning for some time to do my own projects, start a new one etc.

So the 'limbo' I mention in this blog post is not really just about my situation of being stuck in Brest, which is a really peaceful and nice little town (or is it a city? not sure), despite the murderous frustration I felt about, well, being stuck there. It's also about my own life (graduating from my Masters soon, supposedly continuing with PHD), my own creativity, and probably my emotions too.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Leaving Brignogan, France

Heya folks, I've been in Brignogan, France, for the past week or so. Brignogan is this nice coastal village 30 mins away from Brest. Been so busy with my scripwriting workshop, so no time to really post anything here. I took many pretty photos too, no time to upload either.

It is now 10:53am, a car is supposed to pick me up at 3:30pm and take me to Brest station, where I will have to take a train to Paris (train ride lasts 3-5 hours). After I reach the Paris Airport, I will still wait for another couple of hours before I fly back to Tokyo (the flight is at 7am, next morning). I expect to, well, sleep in the airport.

I brought two books with me for the trip, David Mitchell's CLOUD ATLAS, and Vladimir Nabokov's THE REAL LIFE OF SEBASTIAN KNIGHT. I was already in the last quarter of CLOUD ATLAS, so I finished the book while I was still in the plane. SEBASTIAN KNIGHT turned out to be a much breezier read than expected, I finished that during my first two days in France, even before the beginning of the workshop!

I ended up having to download some e-books via Scribd, and was reading Nabokov's PALE FIRE, and Haruki Murakami's HARD-BOILED WONDERLAND AND THE END OF THE WORLD. Despite having mixed feelings of Murakami's works (enjoyed NORWEGIAN WOODS, annoyed with WIND-UP BIRD CHRONICLES, liked AFTER DARK, indifferent to most stories in THE ELEPHANT VANISHES), many have actually said that some of my works reminded them of his stories. I would say that it's coincidence, since, for the past two years, I live in the same dormitory that he used to live in, go the same university that he goes in. I like listening to jazz too. 9 years ago, when I was studying for SPM, the final government exams for secondary school in Malaysia, I had Duke Ellington blaring from my CD player. Sometimes, I would also humorously liken my improvisational filmmaking methods to those of a jazz musician.

Anyway, I'm enjoying HARD-BOILED WONDERLAND AND THE END OF THE WORLD, although I would say that overall, I still prefer David Mitchell as a writer (though he's clearly influenced by Murakami). So yup, another day drifting by while I prepare my long trip back to Tokyo.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Cannes Day 9: Moon Lai's Photoshoot

The last day in Cannes was quite uneventful. All the pressure and stress we had leading towards our screening were finally gone. We could finally just enjoy the festival and the place, it's a little unfortunate that our screening took place towards the end of the festival, otherwise we could have had more relaxing days like this.

We went the Club Quinzaine for lunch.


Yuiko, Mayuko, Moon Lai and Tomoko at Club Quinzaine


Yuiko the assistant producer, who had task after task piled upon her, finally got to relax as well.


Yuiko


A table was prepared for us.


Table for The Tiger Factory


Then there was a photoshoot session for Ming Jin and Moon Lai (Fooi Mun).

There's no point showing Ming Jin's session, so I'll just show Fooi Mun's instead. Here's her prepping with Yuiko.


Moon Lai (Fooi Mun) with Yuiko

Moon Lai (Fooi Mun)


All right, fine. Here's ONE photo of Ming Jin at the photoshoot.


Ming Jin in photo shoot


That's all.

Back to Fooi Mun.


Moon Lai (Fooi Mun) on top of Cannes

Moon Lai (Fooi Mun) on top of Cannes 2

Moon Lai (Fooi Mun) prepping for photo shoot

Moon Lai (Fooi Mun) photo shoot

Moon Lai (Fooi Mun) photo shoot 2

Moon Lai (Fooi Mun) photo shoot 3

Photo of Moon Lai (Fooi Mun)


After lunch, Ming Jin and I were interviewed by Stephane, the editor-in-chief of the famous Cahiers Du Cinema magazine. It was exciting, thinking that we would be part of this magazine's long and rich tradition. Think about it, this was the very magazine that gave birth to the French New Wave! Eternal legends like Truffaut, Godard, Rivette, Rohmer etc. were authors of this magazine!

We were then interviewed by Harumi of Japan's Cinema Today magazine. I was interviewed by Harumi last year in Venice for KINGYO too.

Actually, there were supposed to be more photos of my last day in Cannes, but as I've mentioned. My old computer died. Not really my old comp, but its charger, so I cannot really switch it on. I managed to get myself a new (and cheap) laptop two days ago. Doing fine with it.

I will put up a few more photos from Cannes when I can, in the future. But for now, this ends my chronicles of this unforgettable trip in Cannes Film Festival. I hope it won't be that long before I return again.

Anyway, I have a flight to catch tomorrow morning. I'm returning to France, but this time, I'm going to Brignogan for the second round of the SCRIPT AND PITCH WORKSHOP.

As usual, I will sleep as little as possible so I can do most of my sleeping in the plane!

Monday, June 14, 2010

VIDEO: Talking about my new short, INHALATION at THE TIGER FACTORY press conference at Cannes Film Festival

Had been shutting myself away from the rest of the world working on a new film treatment.

Then, my comp died.

I ended up doing the writing at Saizerya (a Japanese "family restaurant" similar to Denny's) in the past few hours.

Will continue writing that.

But for now, take a look at a video from THE TIGER FACTORY press conference at the Cannes Film Festival on the 21st of May, 2001, just before its official screening. Jeremy Segay moderated the Q and A, those present were Ming Jin (the producer-writer-director), me (the producer-writer-editor) and Moon Lai (or Fooi Mun, the lead actress).

THE TIGER FACTORY press conference


You will hear me, speaking for the first time, the latest short film I made called INHALATION, which is a companion piece, or spin-off, of THE TIGER FACTORY, following the story of one of the feature film's supporting characters, Mei (played by Susan Lee Fong Zhi). The short film also stars Ernest Chong Shun Yuan ("Woman On Fire Looks For Water"). Here's a still.

[INHALATION] Seng (Ernest Chong) and Mei (Susan Lee) share a quiet moment at the dock>


The short wasn't completed in time for Cannes Film Fest, but will be making its premiere in some other film festivals soon, either as a standalone short, or as a companion piece playing before THE TIGER FACTORY.

There's also Ming Jin talking about working with our lead actress Moon Lai (Fooi Mun).



In case you haven't seen it. Here is the trailer of THE TIGER FACTORY.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Cannes Day 8: The Tiger Factory day!

Spent the entire last week trying to finish up my Master's Thesis. It's due end of this month, but I had other things to do, so had to get it done earlier. I succeeded.

Now, on with my penultimate post for the Cannes trip.

For most other people, it's the day of Apichatpong's UNCLE BOONME, but for me, 21st of May was the day of THE TIGER FACTORY.

This is us, at the train station of Juan Les Pins, waiting to go to Cannes for our press conference.


At the Juan Les Pin train station

At the Juan Les Pin train station


Then we were at the waiting room, preparing for the press conference.


Yuiko, Mayuko, Fooi Mun and Tomoko

Ming Jin, Fooi Mun and me before press conference


After that we had our press conference, moderated by Jeremy.


THE TIGER FACTORY press conference

Me, speaking

Ming Jin and I talking smack during The Tiger Factory press conference

Ming Jin at the press conference

Me at the press conference

Fooi Mun at the press conference

The Tiger Factory press conference

Fooi Mun after the end of the press conference


We were asked the usual stuff, like the inspiration for the script, how we prepared for the film, what was Japan's role in this film (it's a Malaysian-Japanese co-production), lead actress Moon Lai's (Fooi Mun) experience working with us etc.

There was a brief interview session after the press conference.

Fooi Mun getting interviewed

Me and Fooi Mun during interview session

Me being interviewed


After that we had Italian food for lunch.

Italian food

Having lunch at italian restaurant with Jeremy


It was yummy.

We returned to the waiting room a while later. Champagne celebration just before our screening.

Ming Jin and Tomoko.

Ming Jin and Tomoko, pre-screening celebration


Then a photography session.

Photography session

Me, Ming Jin and Fooi Mun at photography session


Our photographer reminded me a little of Dakota Fanning.

The pretty photographer


Jeremy with his daughter. Cute!

Ming Jin with Jeremy and his daughter


We then headed off to THE TIGER FACTORY screening. Went on stage to present the film before it was screened.

Ming Jin, me and Fooi Mun, just before The Tiger Factory screening


When the film ended, the applause rang pretty loud, it was a standing ovation that lasted through the entire end credits. It quite overwhelming!

At night we went to take a break at somewhere familiar.

Taking a rest at McDonald's

Ming Jin is James Bond wannabe


One thing I liked about the McDonald's in France is that I can choose to have potato wedges instead of french fries.

It was time for the Uncle Boonme screening. Had to head back to the main Palais.

The photo below is now my Facebook profile pic.

Me, in front of the main Palais

Ming Jin in front of the main Palais


Both Ming Jin and I didn't seem to wear our bow ties properly.

We headed to the red carpet.

Yuiko the assistant producer.



Yuiko walking on the red carpet


Fooi Mun, finally feeling like a star.

Fooi Mun walking on the red carpet

Ming Jin and Fooi Mun on red carpet


It was fun.

Fooi Mun, Ming Jin and I on red carpet

Me, Ming Jin and Fooi Mun at red carpet event
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