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Thursday, June 09, 2011

Film shoot of a Danish-Malaysian co-production

I was at Cherating in the past week for the film shoot of the tentatively-titled GIRL X (or GIRL IN THE WATER), a Danish-Malaysian co-production co-directed by my regular collaborator, Malaysian filmmaker Woo Ming Jin, and the Danish filmmaker Jeppe Ronde. (you might remember from here and here that I was doing some location scouting two weeks ago)

We even imported the Thai actress Sajee "FERN" Apiwong (last seen in Aditya Assarat's HI-SO) to do the main role. It was a short film, but it was a short film with sky-high ambition. After all, I wouldn't involve myself in anything less than awesome anyway.

Tuesday. 1st of June. Jeppe arrived in Malaysia at night.

Wednesday. 2nd of June. Ming Jin, Jeppe and I picked up Fern and her friend So from the airport before heading straight to Cherating.

After a looooong 4-hour car ride, we reached the location, and immediately we headed off to check out the spots.

Ming Jin and Jeppe checking location

A hut

Ming Jin and Jeppe checking the mangrove

The mangrove swamp looked rather beautiful in the evening.

Mangrove forest during sun


Thursday, 3rd of June. The call time was 6:30am. I looked outside the guest apartment we were staying in.

Sunrise at Sanctuary Resort

By 7am. We were preparing to shoot our first scene with Fern and Tony (who plays Fern's employer).

Before shooting the first scene

Shooting the first scene!

When I saw Ming Jin prepping Fern...

Ming Jin prepping Fern

I cannot help but have a brief flashback to THE TIGER FACTORY shoot 14 months ago.

Spraying water

I was so young then.

We couldn't get any audio guy to help us with the shoot, so I had to be the one doing the sound. I had never actually touched a boom mic in my life, so you can see that the expression on my face was really a grimace and not a smile.

Me, Jeppe

Very joyful, me. (I would later complain that having me as the audio guy was akin to having Lionel Messi be a goalkeeper. Being that short, the ball will most certainly sail past him at most times!)

I was the audio guy

We made Fern search for trash.

Fern looking for trash

Kenny, who was the cinematographer of my short film INHALATION, and also the sound dude/ production manager/ associate producer guy for my last short LAST FRAGMENTS OF WINTER, was the assistant cameraman in this production.

Fern and Kenny the AC

Fern and Kenny

This is baby Ira. 7 months old.

She was the second lead of the film.

Baby Ira

Fern and Baby Ira

Saturday. 4th of June. We shot mostly in a mangrove forest.

We were doing a bonfire scene with Iwann, one of the locals in the Cherating area. 15 years old, but supremely photogenic and talented.

Fern and Iwann

At night we visited Pak Mat, who owned a drink stall by the forest. He had a pet monkey.

Pak Mat and his pet monkey

He had a pet monkey that drank milk from a bottle.

Pak Mat's pet monkey drinks milk

Sunday. 5th of June. My cousin Siang Woo was having a wedding.

I woke up with the rest of the gang at 4:30am and headed to the beach at 5am.

There was a boat scene with the rising sun.

I was stranded on another boat recording the sound of the sun.


Listening to the sound of the sun!

I was alone on the boat for an hour. Watching the sunrise. My mind scattered to many different directions at once. I pondered the meaning of life. I thought about fascism. I thought about achieving utopia via totalitarian methods. I thought about crying for love in the center of the world.

I got off the boat.

Moments later, the rest of the cast and crew came back on their boat as well.

Another scene was shot.

A familiar sight

Girl in the water

We then went to the middle of the sea for a scene. Ming Jin, being the only certified lifeguard around, jumped into the water with Fern.

Ming Jin doing lifeguard stuff

The life vest, alas, made him seasick.

I was on the boat, the constant bobbing overwhelmed me with nausea, I found myself too weak to grab hold of the boom mic sometimes. All my life, I never experienced seasick, how odd to finally experienced it.

... experiencing it three times in a single day.