Production Talk with Martin Hong on 'Giselle'
'Giselle' by Martin Hong was nominated for Best Art Direction, Best Sound and Best Cinematography at the 5th Singapore Short Film Awards.
Here is a brief introduction: "Giselle" was done in 2012 as part of a school film module called "FILM210".
Basically what we had to do for the class was to decide on a single location (based on the options proposed), and then all of us would have to shoot a short film there over the course of a week. The idea was to force all of us to weave different stories using the same location. More on Martin's works can be found on www. martinhong.com
What had inspired you to come up with this story idea for the film?
I was researching on the origins of fairy tales, and I thought it was pretty interesting how a lot of people aspire to have 'fairy-tale-endings' but a lot of the original stories lead to pretty dark or tragic conclusions. I thought it'd be interesting to explore this social phenomena, on how this notion of idealized romances stem from such cautionary tales.
I came across this ballet called "Giselle" as well, based off an extremely old poem about the sacrificial nature of love. And so using these two polar views of love, one selfless and the other self-indulgent, I sought to weave a story that could juxtapose both the fantasy and reality of love.
How were Andrea Chong, Marcus Tan and Cindy Chia casted for their roles in Giselle?
They started as friends of friends, and as soon as the script was finalized I just went ahead to cast them. They were all studying in NTU as well so that made meeting up a lot easier.
What kind of rehearsals do they have to go through to prepare for the shoot?
Prior to filming, Andrea was actually the only one I had rehearsals with. We met up a couple of sessions to talk more about her role and to rehearse the scenes. She had never done film acting before but she did have some stage experience. I also didn't know Andrea before the shoot so a lot of the rehearsals were actually sharing sessions haha. But I think they were important for the both of us to be on the same page.
I think the project evolved a lot from production to post. It was a pretty organic process actually, which got me worried at some points because it was so different from what I imagined originally.
I guess also cause it wasn't a very straightforward narrative to me (which is what I was used to) that it allowed for more room for changes. I also had a lot of time to just experiment with new ways of re-editing it, so that was something I was grateful for.
What is the most memorable part of making the film?
Prior to "Giselle", I had done some short films before but this was a milestone for me just because I had a proper team to work with. Like I had a DOP, gaffers, art assistants on set, which was really amazing for me because in the past I never had such luxuries. In my younger days I had to light, shoot and direct all by myself, and it was impossible to reach certain levels of production. I remember my mum was the cameraman in "Orbits" HAHA.
Shooting "Giselle" was the beginning of working in a more systematic and professional way, and now 2 years later looking back, I can say that experience really taught me a lot about filmmaking.
IT'S TEMPTING HAHA but I wouldn't just because I think every film has a creative 'shelf-life' of sorts. Even though tons of things could have been better, I think once you've decided a work is complete, you just have to let go of it and move on, regardless of its flaws. I think holding on to the idea of re-doing it all the time is quite unhealthy lah haha as much as I'd love to improve it.
What is next in the film making pipeline for you?
Now I'm working on a new short about cultural amnesia amongst youths in Singapore. We just wrapped production so now we're now all chionging it in post haha.