Saturday, May 27, 2006

[On Location] Mukhsin

I've said it before, and I'll say it again, massb and myself were extremely honoured to have been given permission to visit Yasmin Ahmad on the set of her new movie Mukhsin when we made our trip up north to KL. And what stroke of luck too, to have it coincide with the first day of principle photography as well. Talk about good timing!

The following will read as a time log, but no worries, there won't be spoilers, and I'll be deliberately vague about everything!

0540hrs
Yes we're mad, but that's our wakeup call. Got to wake up early cos we're targetting to take the earliest train ride out to Kuala Selangor, which means leaving the hotel for the Imbi Monorail station (just next to our hotel), but not before some hearty breakfast!

Breakfast at the Big Apple


The travel plan was simple, from Imbi Monorail Station, to get ourselves to KL Sentral station, and from there take a Komuter train to Klang, to meet The Visitor, who has arranged for ground transportation (cab lah, not tank) from Klang to Kuala Selangor.

We just love the Monorail


0725hrs
Arrived at KL Sentral in record time, but had about 20 minutes to spare before the train to Klang arrived.

Lee Young Ae is everywhere!


Awaiting Train at KL Sentral


Reminded me of the movie Planes, Trains and Automobiles, except that we didn't have the Planes bit.



Train to Klang


We thought that the trip to Klang will take 30 minutes, instead of 50-55 like The Visitor advised. Little do we know that the distances between stations was that varied.

0850hrs
Along the way we were informed by The Visitor that our ride to Kuala Selangor will be late. Eh! Kin leh!

Welcome to Klang


0910hrs
Finally we saw The Visitor, and we're off! We took Uncle Lau's taxi (best driver in Klang OK? So says The Visitor!) from Klang station all the way to the bus terminal at Kuala Selangor.

Fact 1: Uncle Lau dunno the way, follows directional signboards :P
Fact 2: We had loads of fun talking crap in the taxi, which made the almost hour long journey seem like 10 minutes.

Uncle Lau's Cab


Along the way, Yasmin had sms-ed us about the progress of the shoot! Aiyoh, can't wait to get there already :D

1020hrs
We arrived somewhat early. and adjourned to a nearby kopitiam for some food and drinks. We witnessed The Visitor's table manners and his munching skills with Thosai, which was.... erm.... LOL! See for yourself below! A direct Gubra reference that :D



1110hrs
The van (Van A) arrived to pick us up, and off we went to the set! Woo hoo!

Don't play play, it's an official vehicle k?


The road trip from the bus terminal to on-location, was a good 30-40 minutes away, during which we had some time to fool around with our digital camera's video function:



Van A - Journey to Our First Set


We know we're getting closer when the landscape changed to something like this



It stretched far and wide, and it all seemed so calm and serene. Very beautiful I tell you, the greenery (ok, to the uninitiated, we're in vast paddy fields)

1150hrs
As the van pulled to a stop, we saw Yasmin and hey, it's Mukhsin, the boy hero himself! But by the time we alighted and greeted Yasmin, he had disappeared for a wardrobe change. Guess we'll see him in a while. What surprised us was the sight of a crane in the middle of the field. Ha! No, am not going to tell you what it's used for, you'll have to find out for yourself!

And we can't believe we're on a Yasmin Ahmad film set! We met many of the crew like the DP, Asst Director, Editor, Producers, Wardrobe, Makeup, Sound etc etc (even got "Umbrella brigade", more in a while). Wow. Yasmin gamely introduced us to them, and invited us to the shade, away from the blazing hot noon sun. While awaiting the scene to be set up, we had a preview of the scenes which were shot earlier in the day, which were very sweet (can't reveal more :P)

From afar, we saw the heroine approaching the set. And from far, she definitely looked like a younger version of Orked, in her pink baju. Of course, Sharifah Arriana, being the younger sister of Sharifah Amani helped loads, since they would naturally look quite alike, and made for a younger, believable resemblance to Orked.

It was a surreal experience for us. Peering through the lens of the camera, and watching the proceedings Live and from the director's monitor concurrently, it feels as if you're witnessing the same scene on 3 different planes. I'm not going to describe the scene, except to say that it's one of those moments which I think would make your eyes well up in the darkened theatre.

And here's where the "Umbrella Brigade" was crucial in many outdoor scenes, and it's true. Since it's still early in the shoot (1st day only), the cast can't afford to be sun tanned in some scenes, and not in some other, for continuity purposes lah. So sunblocks and umbrellas come in handy to try and ensure that these "two-toning" effects are minimised as much as possible, since it's an outdoor shoot.

There was also a poster-perfect moment in this scene, which I hope would eventually make it in print :-)

1350hrs
We packed, well, actually the crew packed, very efficiently I must say, like a well oiled machine, and not before long, we were back in Van A with Yasmin and the leads to go back to "base camp", which was set up some distance away, nearer to the set of the next scene. There was this tune which Yasmin hummed frequently on set, no, not gonna reveal the title lol

Guess Who!


Along the way, Yasmin asked if I would be able to live out here in a field like this. Truth be told, why not? For this city slicker, I yearn for the calm silence away from the hustle and bustle. The Visitor joked that so long as got air-con, tv, internet connection, should be ok, but I think I can survive without all those... ok, maybe just perhaps that internet connection :P

Friends would already know my dream for retirement - out there on a yacht, anchored in the deep blue sea, can see sunrise and sunset everyday over the horizon. I can add this as an alternative too!

On the Set!


Base camp had lunch all set up. I am tempted to say who's there, but I suppose it's safe to mention Sharifah Amani, who played Orked in Sepet and Gubra, was there too (Yay!), without giving too much away. Her sister in the film, of course she'll be there mah!

Base Camp


Makan!


Lunch was a buffet spread, and we had a treat with food whipped up by Yasmin's mom too! While we were having lunch, the crew had already taken battle stations to set up for the next scene. No time for skiving, folks, you can sense their focus in getting the job done well.

Yasmin All Set!


1430hrs


We're on the Set!


There were 2 different scenes filmed here on the set, and I just have to hold my tongue and not say anything about them. I shall warrant a guess that it'll be something which fans will be happy with, and one which will boggle the mind too :-)

Mukhsin reading his Script. Can Peep?


Sound Check!


What's Going On?


No Peeping!


1615hrs
We did quite a bit of travelling in Van A, and now we're off to another nearby location for a scene involving a childhood game. The Visitor by now has become as red as a lobster, no thanks to the blazing sun (see lah, walk around during noon without sunblock :P). Sharifah Amani was seated beside me, but not before I forgotten to set up the extendible seat for her (oops!) :P

Perhaps I thought the next scene shot had some deeper meaning to it in the way the characters interacted. Guess I'll park it in the back of my mind now, and see how it plays out in the movie. Must see in context then probably understand better :-)

1745hrs
It's a wrap for the day!


We went back base camp, before heading to the apartments (another 20 minute? drive in Van A) where the cast and crew are staying, And we had some "bloody singaporeans" moment here when our erm... friendly DVD of Scary Movie 4 somehow screwed up the DVD player (oops!), and it refused to play any DVDs thereafter. Heard that the player was brand new too (double oops!).

Dusk view from Apartment Balcony. Beautiful?


2000hrs
Dinner was just around the corner from the apartments, and Yasmin managed to arrange for transportation for the group of us, and one cast member with friends, to get back to KL after dinner. We're well taken care of on set you know? Thanks Yasmin :-) The original plan we had was to engage Mr Lau to come and fetch us back to Klang, so had to cancel his additional trip here :P

Makan!


A general debriefing session was conducted after makan, as well as to issue out details of the next day's shoot - the logistics, preparations, scenes, who's in what, etc, before the crew members went into break out groups. It's more debriefs, details, etc, and to think they had to start the next day at 0600hrs!

2130hrs
And alas, it was time to leave. Farewells and hugs were exchanged, and I promised to email Yasmin (signed, sealed and delivered already :-) all the pictures which you did not get to see here, and probably would not get to see until the film is released :P

It's an eye opener and privilege to experience being on a Yasmin Ahmad set, and I remembered during our first interview with Sharifah Amani (for Gubra), that she mentioned that the cast and crew were like family. And now we truly understand what she meant - today, we experienced that camaraderie and all. It's wonderful, and perhaps I've been a bit quiet cos I was still in awe :-) - can't believe that the day had just passed in a blink of an eye. The next morning when massb and I woke up, we both thought that we had dreamt the same dream haha, still quite unbelievable that we had spent almost an entire day on the set with the cast and crew :-)



The Ride Home, Guess Who!


And the almost 1 hour ride was livened up with the at times crude banter between me, massb and The Visitor. Haha, I can't remember what crap we spoke about liao. Movies, food, babes, what else ah?

Crying in the rain?


Thanks too to the abang (cham, forgot his name!) who drove us all the way back safely to KL, despite the heavy downpour, and making an out of the way stop to drop us off at our doorstep. Terimah Kasih!

And to Yasmin, and all the cast and crew, I'm sure you have a hit in your hands. Godspeed, and thank you so much for the hospitality extended to us :-)

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