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My Short Films

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Preparing my new short film 'Last Fragments of Winter'

In my previous epic post, which I spoke about the eating problems and depression I sunk into, I also made a casual mention of a new short film I'm preparing, and also a junk camera I bought as a key prop for the film.

The short film is called LAST FRAGMENTS OF WINTER, and I've started pre-production even though I was half-dead during the days I just came back from Europe. The film will be shot in both Japan and Malaysia, with me shooting the Japanese segment first before flying back to Malaysia on the night of my birthday to continue.

Aside from assembling my team (a mixture of regulars and first-time collaborators), I'm also, of course, casting for my film. I go to the Malaysian side some other day, but there is only one cast member for the Japanese segment: Arisa Koike. When I tried to Google her, the search results I got were of a porn actress with an identical name, so just to clarify things, no, it's not the other Arisa Koike working in my film)

Born in 1994, Arisa is still in high school. And I actually noticed her when she acted in a former Waseda University labmate's film project last year. In fact, I was around when she was auditioning for her role. So it didn't take long for me to contact her for my film. So this is her during our meeting earlier this week. Yuiko the Producer was around as well.

Arisa testing the Mamiya RB67


For the sake of reassuring her that she's in good hands. I showed her a poster of EXHALATION, and its trailer.


EXHALATION poster


"Yup, so that's Tomoe Shinohara in the film." I said, my exhibitionist nature couldn't stop me from pointing out that I had a well-known actress in my film.


[Exhalation] Sayuri (Tomoe Shinohara) in mourning robes
Tomoe Shinohara in EXHALATION


"Oooh. I think my mom will know who she is." The girl said.

"..." I replied, suddenly realizing a generational gap between us.

Then, because I was showoffy, I also pointed out at the large Kingyo poster pasted on the door of my lab in Waseda University and showed her the trailer.

kingyo poster


"The film we're going to make, will be visually awesome and poetic!" I said with sheer enthusiasm. I then whispered to myself. "OMG, I'm so awesome."

Arisa nodded, starting to feel that the RB67 around her neck was really pretty heavy.

The RB67 is pretty badass


Here's Yuiko drawing and speculating the clothes we would use for the shoot.

Yuiko the producer with Arisa


We had another meeting two days later to check out Arisa's wardrobe. The shoot will be on the 2nd of March. Ah, it's good to feel alive again.

Arisa and the Mamiya RB67

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Junk cameras, eating problems etc.

It all started when I arrived at Tokyo after my somewhat lengthy Eurotrip.

I was in a bus from the airport to Shinjuku. As I was arriving, I saw through the window, a young girl carrying a kickass looking camera and taking photos at the streets. The bus stopped, I got out, dragged my luggage with me and tried looking for the girl. She was still there, I started asking about the camera.

She spoke fluent English and told me she was using a Mamiya RZ67.

"Where did you get it?" I asked.



She led me to a shop nearby, it was called Map Camera. I looked at the prices and frowned a little.

I saw an older line of camera called the Mamiya RB67. Slightly cheaper, yet I continued making mental calculations.

It was an educational trip. The girl allowed me to play with her camera, snapped a few photos, then she politely asked to take a portrait of me, I'm a shy and humble man, but I couldn't say no. After that, I thanked her and hurried off with many things in my mind.

Fast forward a few days when I suffered the lingering effects of food poisoning and diarrhea (happens all the time whenever I return from France). It was a depressing period, I was unable to finish meals and such, very surreal.

Imagine, you've been called fat your whole life, looked upon with disdain by shallow women, ignored by girls in high school (who outrightly rejected your painstakingly-prepared birthday gift). The only comfort you have is well, delicious food, cos delicious food don't tear your heart to shreds and leave a gaping hole in your soul for nearly a decade and define the memory of your own youth.

"And I cannot even finish a small bowl of ramen???" I stared at my unfinished bowl of ramen in disbelief (I usually order the large size)

"I cannot even finish a burger in McDonald's??" I stared at the tiny Japan-only limited time-only Miami burger (I usually devour a Double Quarter Pounder).

It was horrible. I was unable to finish the nice bento sold by the elderly couple close to my lab.

I fell into existential despair, spiraling into angst. I waited for phone calls that never came, I glared angrily at lovey dovey photos on Facebook, I tried flinging some Angry Birds around.

Yet the melancholy remained, even though I was meticulously coordinating the beginning of a new short film shoot via Facebook chat and Gmail.

Yes, I'm preparing for a new short.

And this is where the Mamiya cameras return to the narrative of this blog post. I was looking for props. Old school cameras that look cinematic, and the young girl in Shinjuku provided the answer. How funny, I usually would have taken the Narita Express to Shinjuku instead of a bus. And that would have deprived me the chance of seeing her and learning about the camera...

Yesterday, I rushed off to the famous Fujiya junk shop in Nakano to hunt for junk. I ended up really finding a RB67. I bought it. The body was cheap, but I had to buy various parts to put it together too. I ended up spending... Well, perhaps a third or quarter of what a working second hand RB67 would have cost. My spirits lifted a little as I started playing with it.



"You look great." I said to the camera in a gentle tone that I heard often during my secondary school years when girls were trying to relieve themselves of my oh-so-cheery presence ("oh, I'm sure the epic scifi script you wrote is nice, but I have other better things to do, like reading Sweet Valley High while fantasizing myself liplocking with the studly Chee Seng of class 5s2, he's so knowledgeable, his favorite band is Korn *squeals*)

I then headed off for dinner and found myself happily finishing the meal. I actually enjoyed its taste!

Moon Lai the Tiger Factory actress appeared on Facebook chat a few hours later. I was still in my editing lab playing around with the junk camera while watching THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE (the second Lisbeth Salander film).

Up until just now, I had been feeling rather grey. I typed to her. But now...plotting and scheming a new film.

I went on to open a bag of potato chips.

Type. *crunch* Type. Type. *crunch* *gulp*

I
Will
Have
The wor-

Location:1丁目,Bunkyo,Japan

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Discussing INHALATION at the Clermont-Ferrand Intl Short Film Festival

[INHALATION] Seng (Ernest Chong) and Mei (Susan Lee) share a quiet moment at the dock
Ernest Chong Shun Yuan and Susan Lee Fong Zhi in INHALATION


It's been nearly 3 nights since I got back from Europe, yet I still feel a little jetlaggy, a little worse for wear. Despite recovering from a bad cold while I was in Clermont-Ferrand, I ended up with another bad case of diarrhea (happens every time I go to France, really, 3 times in the last year. Maybe me and French food just don't mix, maybe I had too much French fries, maybe I shouldn't eat train food, maybe I shouldn't have airport food etc.)

I mentioned in this blog post that there was a press conference, instead of a post-screening Q & A session for INHALATION at the Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Fest, kinda like the Cannes Film Fest.

So here's the video. The original thing was two times longer because everything I said was translated to French. But I cut off the translations here.


Go to video page for higher quality video

Monday, February 14, 2011

Aha. Valentine's Day in Paris

It's now 8.25am, February 14. I've just spent a night in Paris and am heading to the airport in less than an hour.



Yes, I'm aware that it's Valentine's Day, but since the day had never really meant much to me, aside from having some nice chocolates to eat (they were never meant for me, alas.

I rather just spend the day thousands of feet above the ground. It's been a long trip.

The stars will wheel forth from their daytime hiding places; and one of those lights, slightly brighter than the rest, will be my wingtip passing over




Location:Rue Tronchet,Paris,France

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Bye bye Clermont-Ferrand

I've gotten sick the past three days (a usual occurrence whenever I'm abroad). I guess being on the road for more than two weeks had taken its toll.

Anyway, this is my last night in Clermont-Ferrand, the past week had been fun. Screenings of INHALATION occurred every night. Always to a full house. Twice, my screening had happened in the Cocteau hall, which has a capacity for 1200 people.

In other days, film is screened in smaller halls that still hold 600+ people.




No wonder this is one of the two biggest short film festivals in the world. It's like the Cannes Film Fest for short films.

I arrived here on the 5th of Feb via train from Rotterdam. Journey lasted around 6 hours, I managed to finish the first season of HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER during the journey.











Clermont-Ferrand itself is a nice city. Especially at night.




Went through a few interviews myself. Including an official press conference where I discuss my film with moderators and the public.








Will upload the video later.

The other Malaysians traveling with me were Fei Ling (WOMAN ON FIRE LOOKS FOR WATER actress) and Winnie. They were both representing Da Huang Pictures and Malaysian shorts in general (like mine, obviously). Here's a photo of them in action.




Winnie (in black) also celebrated her birthday. Here's her birthday dinner.




Being in a film festival like this can be highly inspiring, I cannot wait to shoot another film again.

Monday, February 07, 2011

THE TIGER FACTORY Q & A session

I left Rotterdam on the 5th of Feb. Am now at Clermont-Ferrand, France, for the Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival.

But I'll get back to that later. On the 3rd of Feb, first day of Chinese New Year, I had the second screening of THE TIGER FACTORY

Lai Fooi Mun in THE TIGER FACTORY


here's the video of a Q and A session moderated by Tony Rayns.


Video page

Thursday, February 03, 2011

MSN Japan's most-discussed artistes...



For the past 3 days, ever since CINEMA TODAY's article of my short, EXHALATION, actress Tomoe Shinohara had remained one of the 3 most talked-about artistes on MSN, along with Nicholas Cage and Ai Hashimoto.

Awesome.

My Chinese New Year's Eve Celebration in Rotterdam

For a guy who had spent nearly a third of his life living abroad, it's still kinda strange to think that this was my first Chinese New Year spent out of Malaysia, the first time I didn't have the usual Steamboat CNY's Eve reunion dinner with family.

So my Chinese New Year's Eve was rather interesting. I started out seeing one of the Tiger Competition films by Iranian filmmaker Majid Barzegar called RAINY SEASONS. Then I ended up having lunch in a Chinese restaurant with Kiki, Hospitalite director Koji Fukada, and a pair of Koji's Japanese friends who live in Paris.

Chinese New Year's Eve lunch with Japanese folks


At 9pm, most Chinese filmmakers and Malaysian Chinese filmmakers were already planning to have a massive dinner celebration in a Chinese restaurant nearby. But I honoured an earlier appointment by going to a Mexican restaurant with Thomas of Pucheon Film Festival, Filipino filmmakers Khavn De La Cruz (whom I met last December in Cinemanila Film Fest) and Raya Martin (whom I met last May in Cannes), fellow Malaysian-who-works-abroad Sherman Ong, and then agan, Hospitalite director Koji, with Kiki and Ono (one of EXHALATION's executive producers)

The food was yummy.

Yummy Mexican food

Yummy mexican food

Yummy mexican food

My New Year's Eve Reunion Dinner 2011

CNY's Eve Reunion Dinner with filmmaking brethren


And then I headed off to the screening of Koji's HOSPITALITE, which Kiki also produced and starred in. Here's her before the screening.

Kiki Sugino (with Koji Fukada) before the screening of HOSPITALITE in IFFR


After all, it was going to be Chinese New Year, I wouldn't want to see a film of death and woe. I needed something light-hearted, and thus HOSPITALITE was one of them.

It was quite a good film that provided, among many other things, a satiric glimpse at Japanese xenophobia, I enjoyed it. Thanks.

By then it was almost midnight, I returned to the Water Tiger Inn, where a group of Chinese New Year-celebrating film people who had finished their aforementioned dinner had gathered.

Chinese New Year gathering at Water Tiger Inn


'Woman On Fire' herself, Fei Ling (star of WOMAN ON FIRE LOOKS FOR WATER) was there too.

Fei Ling at Water Tiger Inn


Chinese filmmaker Ying Liang.

Ying Liang and Fei Ling at Water Tiger Inn


Late-night celebration of Chinese New Year at Water Tiger Inn


With Heather Keung, artistic director of the Toronto Reel Asian Film Fest. When I first met her a few days ago, I was shocked by how much she looked like Yuli, a friend of mine I met back in Tokyo (who had since gone back to Taipei):

Kelly
(Yuli, Jan 2010)


I guess my Chinese New Year's Eve of 2011 was spent with a slightly different sort of family, a vast, extended family united by films instead of by blood. As mundane as everything described here had sounded, I think it's quite memorable for me.

EXHALATION Q and A sessions (Day 1 and 2)

Happy Chinese New Year, folks.

It's still 6:25pm here in Rotterdam, gonna head off for my 'reunion dinner' with a bunch of Korean folks.

Anyway, haven't been able to post anything on the blog despite a whirlwind of stuff happening.

But here you go, videos from the Q and A sessions of EXHALATION on the 29th and 30th of January. They are both pretty long videos (especially the second one, since Sherman Ong was there as well to talk about his short film).

EXHALATION poster


The screenings were held in the brand new Lantarenvenster cinema.

LantarenVenster


Here's the 12-minute video of the Q and A session.


Video


In the end, producer/actress Kiki was exhausted.

Actress/ producer Kiki Sugino, after a tiring day in the festival #iffr @waentertain


On the second day, the screening was held earlier in the morning.

Here's Kiki preparing.

Kiki before the EXHALATION screening


The session was moderated by Tom Mes, our Japanese interpreter was Stefanie Kolk, who spoke fluent Japanese.

Here's us, before the screening.

Before the EXHALATION screening


Now, here's the 20-minute video of the Q and A session.


video


When it all ended, we had a feast!

Lunch after screening

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Article of my short film EXHALATION on MSN and Yahoo Japan

[Exhalation] Naoko (Kiki Sugino) and Sayuri (Tomoe Shinohara) brooding


Had been trying to upload the videos from my screening Q and A sessions in International Film Fest Rotterdam the past few days, but they're taking quite a while to compress.

So I'll just share an article with you about EXHALATION that was on Cinema Today yesterday (which was then syndicated on MSN and Yahoo). Click the link below!

シノラーこと篠原ともえ、女優として新境地!喪服姿で涙を流す31歳の女性の色香漂う!


Trailer


The short was also mentioned on actress Tomoe Shinohara's blog yesterday.
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