Production Talk - 'The Wedding Avenger' by Michelle Cheong, Lydia Shah

"Newly wedded bride Jade battles her inner fears through a dynamic arcade world on the eve of her wedding dinner. Jade must triumph petulant priests, angry administrators and foul family members before she can battle the enigmatic Final Boss. Helping her on this whirlwind quest is a secret character who might be more foe than friend. Will the evil characters get to her poor drunken husband before she can get the both of them out of this predicament? Can true love actually triumph or will the wedding jitters get to Jade first?
Drawing inspiration from arcade games such as Tetris, King of Fighter and House of the Dead, The Wedding Avenger is at once Alice in the Wonderland meet Street Fighter. This is a tale about a woman who must confront the repercussions of being in a marriage that she is not ready for." 
We have a chat with Michelle Cheong and Lydia Shah about the making of The Wedding Avenger, which will be screened, August 14th, at the National Museum as part of the Singapore 8th Short Cuts. 

1. So, what gave you the inspiration for coming up with 'The Wedding Avenger'? 

MC: When I was writing the story I was going through a few big changes in my life. Sometimes it feels like life just really moves along like an epic bullet train that doesn't give a shit to your feelings or if you are ready. And thus the story about a protagonist who was afraid to face married life was born. I felt that marriage is one of the biggest change in life anybody could ever go through so it was a good premise to build the story. But most importantly I wanted to make a story that was fun to make and hilarious to watch! 

2. What was the toughest moment you had to go through while making this film?

MC: We had a big number of actors and actresses. And a few of them dropped us very, very close to shoot date. But you can only blame it on bad fengshui and move on! Also it was hard for me to finish the script because I wanted it to be perfect. My crew had many, many drafts that I couldn't stop updating and I can only say that it is thanks to their patience that I could finally get it out, and I'm grateful for that. Thank god for Lydia being understanding and calm! I'm sure other producers would have kicked my butt.

LS: What WASN'T! Casting was the biggest hurdle for me. We took two months to decide on Chanel as our lead and many of the actors who agreed to come onboard as supporting cast, backed out on us as late as the day of shoot. The second biggest hurdle was finding a church that would allow us to film in. That took us about 6 months before finally we found a church that would support us.

3. Why did you choose to present it in an arcade world?

MC: I have a friend who was studying in NTU's Interactive Media class who once told me something along the lines that games are an interactive form of cinema. Debatable? Nonetheless it left a lasting impression. When you play games there is usually a very clear storyline. The character's motivation is obvious and the goal is clear. There is an obvious antagonist, and the gamer becomes the character the moment he presses play. There are of course more parallels. In the story Jade the main protagonist retreats into the arcade world to confront her inner fears. As a child of the Street Fighter era, video games represented to me a refusal to grow up, and a space to escape to. But the strongest reason was that I felt in life it is almost as if sometimes you must move on to the next level or it would be game over.

4. And what is your favourite moment making this film?

MC: My favourite moments were when Lydia appeared with Koi! Haha but to be honest I loved it when all the departments came together and complemented each other to bring the scene on life. It is amazing to watch how my vision in my head and words on paper take on a totally different life as it is played out before me on set and later on the big screen.
LS: I don't know about Michelle but for me it was on the very first day of shoot where we were doing the car scene. Our gaffers were trying find a way to create moving shadows on a supposedly moving vehicle, using Dedo lights and C-stands. Our Head gaffer Jmin came up with an on-set invention called 'Helicopter Lights' (refer to attached image) which allowed us to spin Dedos mounted on the C-Stand arms. Whenever we rolled camera, it was a very grand affair: The projector would run, about 3 separate 'Helicopter Lights' would spin simultaneously and one 'Crane Light' would be panned back and forth over the Volkswagen. It was like a dance of lights. It was a very magical shoot.

Article by Yvette Ng
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