STOP10 Mar 2017: 'The Lying Theory' by Lauren Teo

The Lying Theory starts with a simple premise: that a mistrusting girl has developed an ability to see a counter floating above everyone's heads that clocks the number of times that they tell lies... except that one day, in culinary school, she encounters a boy whose counter remains firmly at zero. Will she stop thinking everyone is a liar? Will the boy remain the angel he appears to be? That premise earned writer-director Lauren Teo a nomination for Best Script at the 5th Singapore Short Film Awards in 2014. We can’t stop getting amused with the child actors in this film who blatantly stole the show.

You can actually watch the film on Viddsee. We’ve linked it here. It is showcased under the Viddsee Singapore Film Channel.

We actually spoke to Lauren back in 2014 about her film. Here was our little conversation.

That’s quite a lot of effort for a short film, given the variety of scenes (a home, school, culinary institute..). How many days did you take to complete filming and do post-production work?

We shot for about six days in total and took approximately one and a half months for post-production

As we know, casting child actors can be really challenging. How did you/your team manage to get such a convincing child actress to play young Claire and direct her into her role so well?

Kyra showed up to our auditions all confident and eager to to perform her role as Claire. Ever since that first meeting, I was won over by her natural flair for acting and her charisma - I knew she had to be young Claire. Directing Kyra was a rewarding experience: I would run through the scene with her and she'd understand what I wanted to achieve, always asking questions and giving suggestions of what she thought her version of Claire would do. It was really fun and engaging to in discussions and directing her.

What were some of the bigger difficulties you/your team encountered during production?

The biggest challenge would have to be getting everyone’s understanding and co-operation throughout the shoot, and managing time and forces beyond our control.  For example, shoot time overran for about two to three hours for the classroom scene and we were supposed to move on to the house scene, but it rained quite heavily so we had to postpone the shoot. It was a huge effort to reschedule everyone’s time.

Were the actors playing Larry and Claire really culinary students or did you/your team have contacts in the school which allowed filming within the premises?

Our actors were not culinary students.  TP's culinary school generously provided us with facilities to shoot, as well as some insight to the culinary environment so we could ensure our film was true to industry.

Could you share with us the type of equipment you/your team used for shooting ‘The Lying Theory’? Would you also mind telling us a rough cost breakdown for the production? (We understand that it was a student final year project.)

We used 5dm3 and zoom h4n for the camera and sound respectively. We rented a circular dolly to achieve the 'transformation' shot and other basic lights.

What inspired ‘The Lying Theory’?

Growing up and having experienced the ups and downs of friendship just as everyone else has, I'd always wondered what it'd be like if I could just have some sort of spidey sense or super power that could tell me which person I could trust... that led to the conception of The Lying Theory. I wanted to make a film about friendship and trust. I was inspired by the style of  Jean-Pierre Jeunet's Amelie, which tells the tale of a lonely misfit in such a whimsical and surreal manner - it touched on heavy topics but never was it dreary or depressing.

Written by Colin Low

For the full list of March 2017's 10 films under STOP10, click here.

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