I was at the Shooting Gallery Asia yesterday for a field trip workshop as part of cINE65's efforts to promote and cultivate budding filmmakers. I spent my time following a group of students from SOTA (School of the Arts) as they went around various stations in the Shooting Gallery. While it was less informative than I had expected, the trip was nonetheless a huge eye-opener for me and a great exposure for young filmmakers who get to see for themselves the fascinating world behind the scenes of filmmaking.
Nick from Sinema opens the session with a short introduction.
Louisa, Creative Director of Artison Asia, giving us a tour of the Art Department. Look how fascinated we all are.
Some of the many props and wardrobe in the Art Department.
A 70s Chinese home setup.
At the next station, Suon Oon of Wishing Well Imaging Station explaining how they shot over 1000 ants to create the print advertisement for Heineken.
A photographer directs a horror scene with two volunteers from SOTA.
Explaining the various thought processes that go into a studio shoot, such as lighting ratios and composition of elements.
Behind the scenes of the horror scene shot.
Next, we saw the set up for a balloon bursting in slow motion. The technician explains how they use precise mechanisms such as soldering iron and laser guides to ensure minimal errors in the shot.
The scene was shot by a Phantom Gold HD at 1000fps.
Watch the video for the really cool playback!
Tada! The end of the field trip with all the people who made it possible.
Horror-comedy films have been in existence for decades, but the genre only started to see a resurgence in Singapore last year, with Where Got Ghost? and The Ghost Must be Crazy being released months apart from each other. Unlike those two films, however, Chai Yee Wei’s Twisted shows a keen understanding of how to use both genres to complement each other, when so many purported horror-comedies wind up numbing the genuinely suspenseful moments by dialling up to excess the comedic mood.
Twisted carefully escapes this ditch by the sly use of black comedy; its humour here is not at the expense of its chill-inducing moments. Rather, there are moments that are genuinely terrifying that still rather curiously push you to laughter, especially in the first and third segments. The horror and the humour are inextricably bound together; the key, Chai understands, is to keep the audience laughing at their own fears. He succeeds in doing so at pivotal points in the film, especially in the third segment (e.g. the scene of the exorcism ritual).
That is not to say the film is consistently frightening. In fact, the scares engineered by Chai are actually of a hit-and-miss quality – some violently startle you, while some are, for better or worse, unintentionally funny.
Twisted is made up of three segments, all sharing a very tenuous connection, à la Chungking Express, with narratives that never really overlap, and if you happen to not pay attention, the link between all three segments will be lost on you. The first part features comedian Mark Lee in one of his best performances to date, playing – what else?- a gangster who peddles drugs. Lee shines in roles of this mould because he happens to be just playing himself, but his performance in this movie is a notch above above because it allows to be himself in an outrageously over-the-top fashion. He winds up killing his pregnant girlfriend in an accident, and she –what else? – returns to haunt him. It’s not exactly groundbreaking, but still ridiculously entertaining to see Mark don the rims of his car wheels as armour. Yet this segment also happens to have some of the afore-mentioned unintentionally funny scenes, like the one with Mark Lee's character in a struggle with the ghost of his girlfriend. It winds up being more funny than scary.
Chai does some nimble balancing between humour and horror in the third segment, where Hong Kong actress Zhu Mi Mi plays the mother of a possessed girl who enlists a pair con-men exorcists to expel the demon from her daughter. She wears a creepy blank expression across her face that accentuates her character’s coldness. This segment ends up being the funniest, with the exorcist duo serving up a riot of laughs.
The weakest segment is the second one, which revolves around a pair of air stewards, played by Randall Tan and Calvin Soh, who try to get fresh with their colleagues, played by Tracy Lee and Linda Liao. Things do not go as planned, and one thing escalates to another, resulting in tragedy. Even though the writing for all three segments isn’t fantastic, the plot in the second one comes almost close to being non-existent. You just have to leave your expectations of coherence back home in order to enjoy this one. I suspect the weak story in this segment is why Chai employs a MTV-ish wham-bam! style editing, using a series of very quick cuts to try to make the events in this segment link up better.
Though the editing doesn’t actually quite cover up for the lack of a strong story, it does emphasize the film’s theme of karma. In employing this brand of dizzying editing, Chai accelerates time: we don’t hang around waiting for something to happen; the film jumps from one event to another, generating a cause-and-effect like rhythm to the film (and the second segment in particular), and the ideas of retribution and consequence are foregrounded. The downside - which is apparent in the second segment, not so in the first and third – is that with no mellower moments to puncture the constant frenetic atmosphere, the ‘highs’ in this segment – and there are a lot of them – don’t seem to be as suspenseful as they should be.
While the film does have many flaws, I respect this film just because of its sheer ambition. Anytime a local director makes a commercial effort without trying to pander to the lowest common denominator (i.e. having a smidgen of ambition and trying to put forth ideas in their films), I rejoice. Twisted may have weak stories for its segments, but as a whole the film features strong performances from its cast members, and was adroitly executed to accentuate the theme of karma, elevating it to a morality tale on being responsible for one’s actions. A quirky horror-comedy with a soul.
Celebrating its 8th edition this year, Singapore Short Cuts continues to be one of the most popular and widely anticipated showcases of local short films in Singapore. The programme features a diverse selection of some of the most innovative and outstanding recent Singapore short films ranging from documentaries to animation and experimental work. Some of the filmmakers whose films have been featured in Singapore Short Cuts include Victric Thng, Sherman Ong, Eva Tang, Boo Jun Feng, Liao Jie Kai, Tan Pin Pin and Eric Khoo.
All screenings will be followed by discussions with the filmmakers.
SATURDAY 6 AUGUST | 2PM | RATING TO BE ADVISED
THE IMPOSSIBILITY OF KNOWING by Tan Pin Pin
SNOW CITY by Tan Pin Pin
WAKE by Atsuko Hirayanagi
SOLITARY MOON by Eva Tang
COMFORT by Afiq Omar
SUNDAY 7 AUGUST | 2PM | RATING TO BE ADVISED
ONE DAY I FORGOT AND USED MY HANDS A.K.A HANDS by Charles Lim
BIRTHDAY CAKE by Ang Soo Koon
LIBERTAS by Kan Lume & Megan Wonowidjoyo
I WANT TO REMEMBER by Sherman Ong
A CLOUDY CONUNDRUM by Samantha Lee Suyi, Yvonne Ng & Calvin Chua
BURGER BURGER by Huang Shicong & Gavin Tan Jun Jie
THIN AIR by Kirsten Tan
Free tickets to the 8th Singapore Short Cuts can be collected at the National Museum of Singapore (Stamford Visitor Services Counter) a week before each weekend’s screening. Tickets are available on a first come, first served basis, and limited to four tickets per person. Any remaining tickets will be given out at the door on the screening day.
SAT 6 AUG screening (Tickets for collection from 30 JUL)
SUN 7 AUG screening (Tickets for collection from 31 JUL)
SAT 13 AUG screening (Tickets for collection from 6 AUG)
SUN 14 AUG screening (Tickets for collection from 7 AUG)
Stamford Visitor Services Counter, Level 1
National Museum of Singapore
93 Stamford Road
Tel: 6332 3659
Opening hours: Monday to Sunday, 10am to 7.30pm
Patrons are advised that valid identity pass showing proof of age is required for all screenings. For latest ratings and more information on the 8th Singapore Short Cuts, please log on to www.nationalmuseum.sg.
Please note that you must be aged 18 – 26 (as of 1 January 2011) to participate in this contest.
Attractive Prizes to be won:
1st Prize: $1500 worth of gift vouchers and software products
2nd Prize: $1200 worth of gift vouchers and software products
3rd Prize: $800 worth of gift vouchers and software products
Special Promotion: Be the first 10 teams to sign up and receive a $30.00 shopping voucher!
The final trailer must be submitted to the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) via snail-mail or hand delivery at the following address by 23 Sep 2011, 11.59pm:
Intellectual Property Office of Singapore
Attn: Public Outreach Department
51 Bras Basah Road #04-01
Plaza by the Park
What’s more! HIP Alliance, the organizers of the contest will be holding a workshop in August 2011 to help participants in their quest to produce their anti-piracy trailer. (An update of the workshop will be sent directly to participants upon registering)
Be prepared to scream and half the time in laughter when you catch director Chai Yee Wei's latest film 'Twisted' or 撞鬼. A cross-breed between horror and comedy, this film promises to entertain and we promise it will if the gala screening was anything to go by. The only thing you will miss is the boisterous entertainment provided by the star-studded cast of Twisted who hammed it up for a series of promotional activities over the weekend.
The Star-studded Tour started with a press conference held on 22 July 2011, at K Box, K Union Orchard Cineleisure. During the press conference, Director Chai Yeewei 蔡於位 and cast Mark Lee 李国煌, Zhu Mimi 朱咪咪, Cavin Soh 苏智诚, Joey Leong 梁祖仪 and Josh Lai 赖力豪 greeted members of the media and shared their roles and filming experiences.
(video taken from XINMSN)The cast comment on the ways they were styled for the movie. Mark Lee admits to being the quintessential 'Ah Beng' and readily agreed to the role at the start. Joey shares about the monster she was made up to become in the movie. Veteran HK actress Zhu Mi Mi also shares about how this movie is her film with a Singaporean director.
Director Chai Yee Wei getting ready to meet the media last Friday 22 July
Seated and ready to be questioned
'I will never forget what happened there.'
'I am so thirsty but nobody is taking the water on the table.'
'Don't always ask me this kind of questions can?'
'For this one, let's all look normal.'
'Okay, let's be ourselves now!'
Signing on the banner
'Is this angle okay?'
The cast with the producers of the movie.
A final glimpse
A final glare
On 23 July 2011, the Gala Premiere of 《撞鬼》Twisted at Shaw Lido Cineplex was attended by Director Chai Yeewei 蔡於位 and cast Mark Lee 李国煌, Zhu Mimi 朱咪咪, Cavin Soh 苏智诚, Joey Leong 梁祖仪, Josh Lai 赖力豪, Randall Tan 陈来翔, Alvin Wong 王骏, Brendan Yuen 袁顺成 and Tracy Lee 李美玲. The director and cast made appearances at Shaw Lido’s centre stage and cinema halls to greet all guests. The enthusiastic crowd even tried to make their way onstage to take photos with the stars of the movie.
'Sound check and we are ready to blare.'
'Just remember this is a comedy ok. Don't get a heart attack.'
The cast in full force at the gala premiere
Fans snapping away
Me (Jeremy) with the man behind the film, Director Chai Yee Wei
With the one and only Mark Lee
And of course, the biggest star of the evening, Zhu Mimi
On the third day of the campaign tour, Director Chai Yeewei 蔡於位, Mark Lee 李国煌 and Zhu Mimi 朱咪咪 arrived at Jurong Point Shopping Centre to greet their fans and supporters.The trio played entertained the crowd with their candid conversation and the crowd was obviously tickled by the combination of funny man and veteran HK comedian. They even changed the pre-planned stage game and came up with their own version of “show your scary face” as Mark scared the contestants out of their wits. The Community Gala Premiere held at Golden Village, Jurong Point followed after the meet and greet session which was held with the aim of exposing more Singaporeans to local productions, and to increase their support towards local talents and films.In support of local movies, the Community Gala Premiere was attended by grassroots members, residents & Member of Parliament for Pioneer, Mr Cedric Foo.
《撞鬼》Twisted is distributed by Clover Films and Shaw Organisation in Singapore. The movie is slated for release on 28 July 2011.
Mission & Objective
The first edition of SCREEM Shorts 2011 has officially opened its call for entries and is currently seeking submissions from Singapore and Asian filmmakers. The closing date for submission is 5th Sept 2011.
Probably the first in Asia, the SCREEM Shorts was established in order to provide more opportunities and exposure for independent and non-independent filmmakers and screenwriters working within the horror genre, as well as to draw more attention not only within the local, but Asian region as well.
Sinema hopes to inspire yet another visual experience for our followers to celebrate interesting, and untold horror stories. We also hope it would be a good opportunity for filmmakers to venture into this underrated genre and to interact with various professionals in the process.
*Asian countries are defined as: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei, Cambodia, China (Rep. of China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan), East Timor, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Philippine, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Vietnam.
SCREEM Shorts 2011 is slated to feature the top 20 selections from 29 Sep 2011 – 1 Oct 2011 exclusively at Sinema Old School.
25 minutes and under
Produced within the last 2 years. E.g. January 2010 and after
Shot in Singapore in the above Asian countries.mAnimation or Live Action is acceptable
English subtitles: required for submissions with language other than English or other non-English languages
Kindly indicate if you have rated your film. Fees may be applicable if work(s) are not classified by Media Development of Singapore Censorship Committee.
With a vibrant, relatively new campus but a history that goes back to Singapore cinema's Dark Ages, LASALLE College of the Arts has the potential to produce films that offer fresh perspectives while remaining rooted in – for lack of a better word – tradition. Boo Junfeng is among the graduates of the college's The Puttnam School of Film, so there's every chance that the next new name on the scene will surface in this group of young filmmakers.
Directed by Saravanan Sambasivam
Synopsis: A documentary about a busker, Regu David Arekrishnan, who plays his music in an underpass.
Review: If there's one particular type of film that doesn't receive enough attention here, it's the documentary. The likes of Tan Pin Pin and Royston Tan have made their share, and films like 12 Storeys, 15 and Red Dragonflies are, in essence, documentaries, but Singaporean filmmakers are far behind when it comes to producing compelling films of the genre. For better or for worse, a character like Michael Moore is something we could use. If we take away the questionable editing, inherent biases, personal motives and less than agreeable personality, we still have films that spark debate and conversation that make us question our ideas of reality while making a whole lot of money at the box office.
Wild Dogs is a sentimental, heartstring-tugging documentary narrated by its subject, David. Laid over images of his daily routine (interacting with people walking through his underpass, going up to patrons of a coffee shop to offer songs for a fee and performing in a a pub) he tells us how he's given up on some aspects of his life (getting married, settling down) but also how music can make the world better. A simple, well-shot character study, this film isn't groundbreaking in its tribute to someone on the fringe of society, but it offers an uncommon depiction of Singapore's underpass culture. From our transport, to our malls and even some of our schools, much of Singaporean life takes place beneath the surface. The exploration of this underground space is fleeting, but it frames David's story nicely, and definitely makes him seem more interesting than your average pub singer.
David also brings up the fact that tourists tend to be more generous than Singaporeans, which is something to be expected. Is it because we're too concerned with money? Is it because we're not spontaneous enough? Is it because we see him every single time we pass by and already donated money a couple of times? Whatever it is, it's something worth considering at a time when so many of us are up in arms over “foreign talent”. An interesting subject and a discussion starter; Saravanan Sambasivan's film has the right stuff.
Directed by Surianti Sulaiman
Synopsis: A guitarist in a school band is reprimanded for being an individual and not performing in the manner expected of him. A storeman or jagah in the school supports his talent though, and they write a song together.
Review: The most "Jack Neo" of films in the set, complete with shaky acting performances and an obvious message, the virtuoso guitar player in Strings finds himself caught between conforming to demands of his school band, and playing what he “feels”. The film is dominated by the common theme of being true to yourself, and only its final scene (a montage with our protagonist playing alone as the band plays without him) is memorable, but Strings' take on Singapore's education system is bitingly accurate and prescient in a way.
The teacher who conducts the band is a typical example of a terrible educator we've all encountered at one time or another in our school days. Someone who punishes individuality, someone who'll make you stay back during recess for talking in class, someone only focused on results and someone who emphasizes on rote learning. More interestingly, at a point where Singapore is being touted as an “arts hub”, it reminds us to ask if all arts will be embraced or if only the profitable disciplines will receive funding and support.
The Red Veil
Directed by Chua Seng Yew
Synopsis: A girl prepares her sister to be “married” in the Hindu devadasi tradition as she dreams about what an ordinary marriage would be like.
Review: It's been so for many centuries and it continues to be the case today; India is an undoubted source of artistic inspiration. How Chua Seng Yew ended up chronicling an obscure religious practice in India is probably a story in itself, but it comes across as an accurate, well-researched film without the outside-looking-in vibes of a Western take on the country.
The focus of The Red Veil isn't initially clear. It introduces us to a wedding preparation that almost seems sinister and as it begins to show the internal conflict faced by one of the girls going through it, we realize that there is a darker side to what we see. It's not stated explicitly in the film, but research will tell you that the it's about the devadasi tradition, an ancient practice which originally saw women “married” to deities, but which in modern times became a form of prostitution. The devadasi practice has been banned in India for over 20 years. The film stops short of of passing judgment and reveals its story subtly and tastefully. There's no happy ending here, but for the hopes that things will one day be better.
The film seemed to have the highest production values of the six thesis films and it was beautifully shot. Technically speaking, it's among the more inventive of the films presented; extreme close-ups of characters, lots of play with reflections, the dreary indoors, the dreamy outdoors and the attention to detail with the set design give it a distinct visual appeal. As a student film, The Red Veil is ambitious yet compact with great potential to be expanded into a feature. As a Tamil language film, it's incredibly subtle and understated (judging from some Vasantham programming, that's quite an achievement).
Sorry I forgot my steps... I got distracted by Enlai's underwear
Day 2 of the the SINdie MV shoot was the BIG day. We counted, there were 50 people to deal with on set - 30 cast and 20 crew. All spending a hot and wet afternoon at Republic Polytechnic swimming pool. Here are the sights and sounds!
Who run the world? ..........Maids and (Enlai) (attempting Beyonce-like moves)
The Great Singapore Workout is a great warm up!
Singing my blues away
We train our maids well. Their service come with a smile.
'Poor girls, they need an umbrella like me.'
'Do you have to carry your boy boy's army bag?'
The items make 'Strange bedfellows'
Puppetry was an important component in the video
'Love these reflectors, helps protect my skin'
Cherlyn our assistant director is glad to be under protection
'What?! Not coming?? %@*&^%!'
Poor lizard, it thought it would have been nice to take a dip. It was wrong.
It took a girl to save everyone from the lizard
This is one glamorous maid
And one helluva-young fishmonger (Yong Wei)
Preparing for Operation River Crossing
'Are you ready for your synchronised swimming lessons?'
Who needs Laticia when you have 5 to serve you!
These characters (cleaner, construction worker, carpark attendant, maid etc) never make it to our national day banners... they so deserve to be celebrated!
Stay tuned for Day 3 and Post Production and of course the FINAL video. All out this week!