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Monday, March 03, 2014

Shooting RIVER OF EXPLODING DURIANS at the 140-year-old annual Johor Parade of the Gods

On February 20th, my RIVER OF EXPLODING DURIANS team and I headed off to Johor to shoot our ending. The reason why we were willing to endure a 4+ hour trip was because we wanted to catch the annual Johor "Parade of the Gods", a Chingay Parade that has been going for more than 140 years.

We were there with our two leads, Koe Shern and Daphne Low.

It was challenging, moving through the crowds, trying to get our shots, and set up scenes that were not exactly in the script.

Coincidentally, the local film THE JOURNEY 一路有你 (which just became the top-grossing local film in Malaysian history) also filmed a scene at last year's parade. So when some folks saw us wandering around with our camera, there were a few approaching us and asking whether we were doing a THE JOURNEY 2. I swiftly replied that it was for a film called RIVER OF EXPLODING DURIANS, of course, most of the time before I could even finish uttering the film title, they had already lost interest and walked away.

There was even a THE JOURNEY-themed float from Astro at the Parade, where the director Chiu Dao and the lead actor Uncle Frankie were there to greet the fans. In which, I swiftly made sure my own camera wasn't rolling, because I didn't want things to be too meta.

Overall it was a wonderful experience. We left for Johor around 8am, tried to leave the place around midnight but could only return to KL by 6am the next day.

The truth is, I never knew about this parade despite its immense size and importance, until a friend (Angel, a scriptwriter/ actress who also has a role in RIVER OF EXPLODING DURIANS) mentioned it to me late last year. That was when everything was set in motion and I decided to film my ending here.

Malaysia's not a big country, but sometimes I'm flabbergasted by how little I know of its traditions and cultural events like this.