Saturday, July 29, 2006

[3rd Singapore Short Cuts] 2nd Week

I missed the very first week of the 3rd Singapore Short Cuts, no thanks for being duty bound and got recalled back to camp for a silent mobilization exercise. As usual, there's the usual cock-up in the activation (will be activated advance notice given -> cancelled -> reactivated), then again, what's new?

So all I could do was to lament loss of not being able to watch Colin Goh and Woo Yen Yen's short 3Meals (the duo did Singapore Dreaming),

Then again, cock-ups also extended to the 2nd week of the showcase, as you can see for yourself in the pictures below, none of the shorts printed on the ticket, were screened, which led to a mini-confusion as to what the lineup was.

Printed on the left side of the ticket was actually next week's lineup, and on the right side, last week's (and I thought there will be a repeat of last week's shorts *grin*)

Anyway, I was a little irked by some of the nitty gritties, like how it would be preferred to have a short introduction by someone before the lights just suddenly dimmed and the shorts played, or the fact that walk-in folks were allowed into the darkened theatre to fill up the seats of those who did not turn up. At least get these guys to enter the theatrette before the shorts start, and when there is still light.

Logistical gripes aside, the collection of shorts shown today was quite disappointing in my opinion. Here's my quick take:

Heave - Gek Li San, Ngiam Shin Shin
Didn't really get what it was trying to put across, since it contained mini segments with characters bitching just about everything, until the culmination in a news reel about the Nicoll Highway collapse. Only the segment about the man and his kid on the rooftop sort of provided the link to the newsreel. Other segments included two office ladies complaining about the weather, a sperm-bank delivery man complaining about his work, a couple trying to conceive (boob shot from far to earn NC16 rating, but there were kids in the theatrette anyway). The synopsis mentioned something about being in a pressure cooker environment, but I felt the segments were too disparate to bring out the theme the filmmakers wanted to tell.

Di (Little Brother) - Michael Kam
Sibling rivalry at its keenest, with 2 brothers in all too familiar situations, and the fights looked quite real too.

Passenger - Green Zeng
Perhaps the most polished of them all, this film had basically two characters, a taxi driver and an old dialect-speaking lady, both played by familiar faces. It's about an old lady who wants the taxi driver to bring her to places of old where she frequents, or hold precious memories, to visit them for one last time before she departs for China. I could imagine the exhorbitant cab fare already, as she engages the driver in a dialogue of remembrance of her life with her deceased husband. It was a bit repetitive in its travelling shots, and shots of the old woman from the taxi cab window.

Peter Ho - Yee Cheng Kang
The longest of them all, Peter Ho tells the story of a very angsty local tour guide, whose colleagues and boss are stereotypically amusing. It's part comedy, part art-house (!) as there were portions which showcased the loneliness that Peter Ho experienced. The best bits are those involving Peter Ho and Ah Neh, and the short at certain scenes, look like a tourism board's advertorial. Despite being the longest short today, this was also the most difficult to watch given the handheld-camera-without-the tripod-motion-sickness syndrome.

The directors were all on hand for the Q&A session, and here I'll try and reproduce faithfully, some of the questions asked, and answers given.

Q: What was the inspiration behind Passenger?
A: The director had a conversation with a friend about his grandmother who wanted to go back to China, and was combined with another idea of a man suffering from cancer, going around to certain places he wanted to go again before he dies.

Q: Who directed what in Heave?
A: Shin handed most of the art direction and the first part of the first segment, while Li Shan handled everything else.

Q: If there was anything you could change with the shorts, what would they be and why?
A (Heave): The whole thing as many people didn't understand what it meant. It has this pressure cooker metaphor of the environment we live in, and if you notice, the pressure was increasing with the different segments. There are 5 segments in which the pressure was progressively increeasing until the Nicole Highway collapse. There was plenty of experimenting with the pacing, and the technical aspects like increasing the run time as the segments progressed, as well as reducing the number of cut scenes to no cuts at all for the last segment with the man and the boy.
A (Passenger): To shoot it in fiom if they can, but no budget.
A (Peter Ho): Nothing will be changed, as the director was happy and had loads of fun with the cast and crew. One thing he noticed though, is with the shakiness of the shots. He will use a tripod for his subsequent shorts.

Q: In some of the shorts, was there a conscious decision to showcase Singapore?
A (Passenger): Singapore was the "third character", but there weren't any "touristy" places used. Done in 4 nights of shooting.
A (Peter Ho): If it's shot properly, perhaps it can be used by Singapore Tourism Board. The story accounts a love-hate relationship with Singapore. We might complain a lot, but we still love the country.

Q: It's common lore that the hardest to work with in film are with animals and children. Was that true for Di?
A: The director was actually surprised that the kids were quite mature, savvy city kids. They are brothers in real life.

Q: How was the dialogue done - improvised or scripted?
A (Passenger): The language used in the entire film is Teochew. The script was written in English, then sent to a translator to translate it to mandarin. The actors read the script in mandarin, then interpreted it in Teochew.
A (Peter Ho): The director shared an anecdote that he never had taken a grant from the Singapore Film Commission, because of the lack of a proper script. Peter Ho was done without a proper script. The short film was done towards the end of the year, after absorbing scenarios from daily life earlier in the year. The director knows about 70% of what he wants in the film, while the remaining 30% were ad-libbed with the actors. For example, the scene with the delivery man was ad-libbed by the actor (who incidentally, plays the bass in the director's band).
A (Heave): Relied on the actor's input during rehearsals.

Q: What about that toilet and the showing of the backside in Peter Ho?
A: My shorts, since poly days, always have a toilet scene!

Q: How much did the shorts cost, in terms of time and money spent?
A (Heave): From conception to delivery, about 1 year (non full time). Cost S$16K with the help of an earlier award and payment in kind from SIFF.
A (Di): S$8K, and 4 years (non full time)
A (Passenger): Got sponsorship for camera and editing system. Got a grant from Singapore Film Commission of less than S$10K. The taxi hired for the shoot was partially sponsored.
A (Peter Ho): It's not about the money. Get the story right, and get the right people.

Q: What was the significance of the dog scene in the expressway?
A: The director wanted the audience to work that out themselves. Usually when people watch a movie, they want things presented to them.

Then there was a comment about the subtitling of Passenger which didn't do justice to the short, as well as Cheng Kang explaining that the movie was made for himself as a showcase of his ability.

Next week's selection are shorts made in the 90s. Should be interesting. Stay tuned!

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...