Saturday, July 31, 2010

Day 254: Nine Hours in the Night

30 July, 2010

My god. What an amazingly exhausting but exciting day!

After a whole day of work, we started shooting at 7:30 pm. It lasted until 4:30 am. It was a very interesting shoot to say the least. I had 15 different angles for a single indoor scene at my place and we shot and shot and shot that one for about 5 hours by the end of which, the actors were already tired but they didn't realize that wasn't the worst of it. Because immediately after that, we proceeded to a night-time outdoor shoot which was not the easiest thing to do for independent film makers who have no money and therefore, no lights. Most spots in Singapore housing neighbourhoods, I realized, are ill-lit for night-time filming. We had to hop from one spot on the road to another, looking for bright patches where we could shoot without the actors ending up looking ghosts. At the end of it, we ended up shooting a single shot in about 6 different locations before we could make it bearable.

On top of everything we also attracted the attention of the Singapore Police who were patrolling around. They interrogated me about why I was walking around at 2 am with a camera and three other people. Upon being informed that we are just penniless film makers, they did let us proceed in peace.

So there. It was definitely an exciting nine hours in the night.

746 more to go.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Day 253: Locations and Websites

29 July, 2010

Yet another interesting day. The first half of the day was useless. Absolutely useless. I attended a few meetings and answered a few emails but did not get any serious work done. It was hopeless. I couldn't concentrate and was feeling rather bored with this entire thing called life.

By evening, it was clear that this had to change and that I need to get some solid work done. Otherwise I would lament about this wasted day, for several days to come, which would result in them being wasted as well.

So firstly I hit yoga. To be very honest, I don't think I gave my best in yoga because I had issues concentrating there as well. But I did manage to get through it, so that started turning the tide on the mind-numbingly unproductive day.

Then I made my way to Boat Quay. The mission was to find a location for my shoot this Sunday. Even when am not shooting, am pretty consistently working on the film in my capacity as the producer and production manager and assistant director etc. and this had to be done before the weekend. My ever-supportive hubby joined me in the mission as well.

I chose a random restaurant where they had some decent lighting and where the people looked friendly enough. I asked one of the waitresses whether I could talk to their manager and she pointed me straight towards the owner of the restaurant who was enjoying smoke by the river. We went up to him and explained our situation and he readily, I mean very very readily, agreed to our request. I was SO happy and grateful! It also turned out that he himself is looking at starting up a production house on top of running this restaurant which is only his part time job (he is a full time IT consultant), so his heart was at the right place when it came to supporting struggling independent film makers, especially the part timers! That really did swing my day from being a sad one to an Awesome one!

Then we sat back in the restaurant to continue with dinner and was soon joined by my generous friend who has volunteered to work on the website for the film. The good news is that he is as organized as I am when it comes to work, and he came prepared with several templates for me to choose from and I was quite happy with one of those! So there is solid foundation for him to work on! Sitting there, we also got registered. Yay!

So in a nutshell, it was a really productive day in spite of the slow start.

747 more to go.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Day 252: Calibrations

I was promoted to be the Brand Manager (from being the asst. brand manager) about 10-11 months ago. And today I got to sit in my first ABM (asst. brand manager) calibration meeting. That is, the meeting where we decide how the whole lot of them would be rated for their performance for the year. And the same process will be done among our managers for us and their managers for them, so on and so forth. Due to confidentiality issues, I can't write anything detailed about it here but it was definitely a very interesting experience. I learned a lot more than I had expected for sure and in fact hearing the stories about some their performances was nothing short of inspiring! So yes, I quite enjoyed this experience!

748 more to go.

Day 251: Can't Help But Smile

27 July, 2010

Today was a wonderful day. Like really really. A lot of things, very small but significant things happened throughout the day that really made my heart burst with happiness.

Firstly I got a few more responses for my cry for help. People have been very sweet about it. They have helped to spread the word to their friends and a couple of them, whom I had missed out on my email, got back to me saying that they heard about this from someone else and would love to help out! I mean, seriously! Such sweet gestures! I feel really, really thankful for that!

One friend, whom I had worked with on a dance project a couple of years ago but have not really seen since, wrote to me saying "If the situation were reversed, I'm sure you would do the same for me." I was truly touched! I mean, how extremely sweet is that!

Then later on I had shared bits of edited clips with some of the core team members and there was a lot of excitement and encouragement from there as well! I had not done much of editing for last few weeks because of lack of time and my dry eyes issue, but could not wait to work on something. So yesterday night I edited a tiny scene and sent it out for comments to a few core team members. And that led to long discussions on the film! Anything to do with the film makes me feel all hunky-dory anyway and this was no exception!

And last but not the least.... I got appreciation for THREE of my yoga postures today in class - "good one" for Tortoise, "very nice" for Rabbit and "good" for a stretching posture. Needless to say, the day ended on an extreme high! Muhahahaha!

749 more to go.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Day 250: Cry for Help

I have this big shoot coming up on August 8th for which I need as many as 60 extras to make it happen. This is no mean feat really because it is the long national day weekend in Singapore and that would mean that many people would be travelling.

I had been trying to spread the word a bit here and there with decent success but had started panicking because 60 seems rather high a number. So today, I took some time to write a note asking for help, and sent it to everyone and anyone who has supported me in one way or the other in Singapore over the years. It was more or less a distress call, asking two hours of their time on August 8th, just so that I can complete this film.

It added quite a few numbers to my count, which is however still far from 60. But the good thing is that it got me to interact again with a lot of people whom I havent been in touch with for a while. Some of them can make it while the others are travelling and cannot. But the most heartening thing was that everyone was very supportive. Just the way they respond, is so encouraging in itself! They are all kind enough to say that they will make it a point to watch the film when it is made, even if they can't join the shoot!

So yes, today was beautiful because I cried for help and it was heard.

Plus also the fact that I complete 25% of the blog today... yay!! :)

750 more to go.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Day 249: What a Weekend!

This weekend has been most interesting to say the least. Even though I wrote a short post for Saturday, I think with both Saturday and Sunday combined, this has been one of the most interesting weekends Ever. I think the number of significant events is so big that it definitely deserves a combined listing here. So here we go... the significant events from the significant weekend of Jul 24-25 in my life.

a) Completing the planned 150 shots in less than the planned 12 hours.
b) Having cast members turning up 2 -3 hours late with one of them following me around the shoot location begging for forgiveness (even though I was nothing but sweet to him and indicated no resentment whatsoever about his ridiculous sense of timing).
c) The same cast member ending up with a muscle sprain during the shoot, leading to one useless arm for him and temporary panic for me.
d) 12 hours of unbelievable support from the hubby who stayed on for the long shoot without me asking him to do so and without him complaining about boredom even once. Respect.
e) Having an unexpected Saturday night outing with awesome dinner and dessert session at Holland Village with hubby, cinematographer and couple of cast members.
f) Having the biggest scene shot till date with 9 people in a single scene.
g) Getting lunch served by the heroine of the film who brought over rice, dal and veggie dishes which was definitely a pleasant surprise and welcome change from the otherwise expected pizza delivery.
h) Being thrown out of shoot from own condominium's premise because of the complaint from some godforsaken "resident" (am still baffled what my fellow neighbour found disturbing considering we were shooting in nobody's way and had only trees as the backdrop).
i) Having our official photographer come over for behind the scene shoot and ending up with a ton of pictures of the cast mostly yawning, scratching their heads or looking doped and me looking messy as ever.
j) Having an incredible dinner of Idiyappam, Aappam, Mutton Ularthiyathu, Vegetable Ishtu and Masala Chai at the wonderful Mango Tree restaurant with the hubby (the weather was awesome too... very breezy and just perfect for outdoor dining).
k) Having 80% of the film canned.
l) Feeling really good about the whole thing.

751 more to go.

Day 248: Miracle

24 July, 2010

Yesterday the status on my Facebook and Twitter read "I have a total of 150 shots to can tomorrow. It would be nothing short of a miracle if this can be pulled off. Gulp.".

Today a miracle indeed took place.

Need I say more?

752 more to go.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Day 247: Preparation

The best thing I did today - prepare for tomorrow.

Tomorrow is a big, big shoot day. I need to can more than 150 shots within 12 hours and thats a LOT. So I prepared and prepared and prepared on the shots and storyboarding and everything else I could think of. And enjoyed doing that.

Now fingers crossed for tomorrow.

753 more to go.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Day 246: Kerala Cafe

Today was interesting. Firstly, I didn't make it to office because I decided to give my tear-gland-defective, dried-out eyes some rest. The doctor had asked me to keep away from computers as much as possible, at least for a few days... so I decided to stay on at home and not strain my eyes for the day. However, post noon boredom got the better of me. I mean, what is one supposed to do without computers and books and TVs and such?!

So at about 3pm I convinced myself that watching a movie on the TV, but sitting far away from it will be the least straining on my eyes. And so I sat down and watched Kerala Cafe, the much awaited DVD that I had purchased a few days ago.

This collection of 10 short Malayalam movies, had released in Kerala last year but I didn't get a chance to watch it until today. And I really, really enjoyed it! Needless to say, am a movie buff and I long for good quality malayalam films, a rarity these days. And Kerala Cafe simply blew me away! My favourites from the collection were Happy Journey, Bridge and Makal, followed by Aviramam and Off-Season

I don't intend to write a review about this, but watching a good movie really makes my day and today has been "made" by Kerala Cafe! :)

754 more to go.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Day 245: SMS Invite

Just as stepped out of yoga class today, I got a SMS. It basically gave the date and time of a wedding and told me that I must definitely go for it. I was confused to say the least. Who was this person inviting me for a wedding over SMS and I don't seem to have his/her contact on my phone!

A few minutes later I received a call from the same number.

Ah....then it dawned! It was my lovely room mate and friend from almost ten years ago!! And now, she is getting married!!

The last time I saw her was more than two years ago and that explains why I didn't even have her number because I had lost my phone with all the contacts post that. And in her characteristic crazy self, she decided to SMS me first instead of calling!

Anyway, it felt absolutely wonderful to talk to her again! She and I share the kind of relationship where we don't have to talk to or meet each other every other week to keep the closeness and the warmth of our friendship going. Both of us arrived the same day in Singapore from India to do our Junior College, both of us had stayed in the same room for two years, taken similar subjects, got similar grades, loved food (she loved to sleep as well) and in short, had a lot in common. Inspite of both of us being constantly homesick, we had a lot of fun as well!

So today was beautiful because a friend from a long time ago remembered to call me for her wedding. That was very nice! :)

755 more to go.

Day 244: Inception

20 Jul, 2010

The whole world is talking about Inception, the film, and I was beginning to feel left out of conversations because I had not watched it yet. So that's exactly what I did today. Watch "Inception".

Sure, it is a mind boggling movie and as expected I didn't totally understand it but it was highly inspiring. Not the movie itself, but the fact that Christopher Nolan has written, directed and produced it himself.

I mean, come on! That would take quite a bit of grit, I can assure you. The movie is not one that's easy to write, direct or produce for sure and he has managed to do all three himself! And for an aspiring tiny writer and director like myself, that's just superhuman stuff!

And I must say the inspiration came at the right time. Because I was slowly beginning to crumble under the pressures of the film making task at hand. I am worried about the jam-packed hectic schedule for the next three weeks; am worried whether the weather would hold for the outdoor shoots because it has been very unreliable in Singapore recently; am worried about the locations I need to get ready on time; am worried about the people I need to get for a big group scene; I am worried about shooting outdoors at night with no lights and this camera since that has not been done before and I really am not sure how it would turn out; I am worried about my eyes which have developed a dryness syndrome out of the blue due to strain, which is just their way of saying that am abusing them too much with office and film work; am worried about completing the shoot within the given time at a paid, external venue etc. etc. etc.

Net, I am worried. Rather, I was worried.

But watching Inception made me realize my problems are rather minute compared to what C. Nolan would have had to go through to get this film done. I mean sure, he has all the money in the world and all the professionals he needs at his beck and call, but still it could not have been easy at all. So that was really very inspiring!

And now that I am inspired, I think I can go on for a few more weeks! It's action time once again!

756 more to go.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Day 243: When Moms Visit

When we used to be in university, the news of a friend's mom visiting from India used to create waves among the batch. I mean any friend's mom, not one particular friend's mom. Because when a mom visits, it means at least one great meal of delicious home cooked food! For people who have been living on canteen food, even though that too is good, it is still quite a pleasure to have "ghar ka khaana". In fact, more than the food, it's also the pampering. The mom would say "Beta... take one more roti..." or "....have some more sabji..." or " more gulab jamun? You haven't eaten anything at all!" (even though you might have had twice the amount of food you normally take. None does that at the canteen for sure. Hence, a mom's visit used to be a big deal.

There used to be a rather standard process during these times:
a) The friend announces the impending arrival of The Mom
b) Everyone gets excited
c) The Mom arrives
d) The date for the great dinner (or lunch) is fixed after the friend and The Mom figure out how to squeeze it in alongside the scheduled visits to Sentosa, Bird Park and the Zoo
e) Everyone waits anxiously for the big day
f) The big day arrives
g) Everyone gets ready in the best of clothes, because nobody obviously wants to look messy in front of The Mom.
h) All the girls even wear salwars (oh wait... that was only when my hubby's mom arrived. Then I wanted to make an impression of the perfect bahu in front of my future mother-in-law. So I got myself and the other girls in the batch to wear salwars because I didn't want to be the only girl in salwar. In hindsight, that's rather silly because then everyone looks perfect bahu types. Interesting. Anyways..)
i) Everyone gets on a bus, singing songs and making the same silly jokes about one person's crush or another person's haircut until we get to the place where The Mom resides (usually in the friend's relative's place).
j) Everyone says "Hello Aunty' or "Namaste Aunty" (haven't heard a third variation of this yet) when they meet The Mom
k) The Mom beams at the thought of having 15 cool-looking youngsters coming all the way from campus just to have her food
l) After the greetings and introductions that last for 5 minutes, the gang stands around politely for another 5 minutes until The Mom absolutely insists that we really must be starting on our dinner now.
m) The next 50 minutes is dedicated to finishing off every morsel of food that's been cooked.
n) Everyone burps
o) The Mom beams even more now, seeing how her hard work was worth it.
p) Everyone, including the boys, offer to do dishes. But somehow, it ends up with the girls doing it anyway while the boys pat their 3-inch-larger tummies and collapse on the sofa.
q) After a lot of inertia, everyone thanks The Mom one last time, and take another bus back to good old campus.

There. That used to be the routine. And the reason why I am talking about this now is because after a very long time (maybe more than 3-4 years even), I had a similar experience today. A friend's mom and dad are in town and we were invited for dinner. The gang, a lot smaller in number now, turned up to meet the parents over dinner. And it felt so good!

To be honest, I have been rather asocial over the last few years, hardly hanging out with friends. I am not sure why that has been the case but I think it is mainly because I get so little time to myself during the week, thanks to office, that I prefer to be on my own or just with 1-2 other people during my free time. This means I tend to avoid big gatherings of any kind because I get really uncomfortable. I was always an introvert and recently the tendency has been more so.

So when this friend's mom had visited a few years ago, I had not bothered to go and meet her. Which I kinda regret now because she is quite a darling. I really enjoyed meeting her today and it would have been a pleasure to know her even earlier. Well, lesson learnt.

So in short, I had a very nice evening. Good dinner. Lovely company. And some good memories.

757 more to go.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Day 242: Beginning of the End of the Shoot

OK so I am on to the last lap of the film's shoot. And today I have kinda sealed that in by completing 100% of the shot breakdowns. Every month I have been working on the shot breakdowns for the following month's shoot and now 100% of that work is done. Phew! Now all I need to do is execute the shots which easier said than done but at least now I can see the entirel film shot-by-shot in my head. Fingers crossed for a month of productive shoot now!

758 more to go.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Day 242: The Perfect Lady

Oh My God. This is unbelievable! OK I might not be the perfect lady yet but I think am freakishly close to being one!

As you may already know, I hardly cook. I mean the average is about 1 - 1.5 times a year. Which is like not very attractive especially if you are married and especially if you are Indian. It's like the kind of statistic people look down upon.

I had written here about how I recently had to cook to make sure my sick hubby ate something. Now there were a lot of vegetables remaining from that day. This is also one reason why I hardly cook. Every time you buy groceries, things always go wasted unless you cook often enough. So unless you have plans to cook regularly, there is no point buying these things because I hate throwing away food stuff.

Anyway, today presented me an opportunity to use up the groceries from four days ago. Hubby decided to spend the evening with his friends and I decided that instead of ordering food from outside I will just cook something and try and not waste all those vegetables. A look at the items available made me realize that all I have are eggs, onions and tomatoes. Upon digging further into the fridge, I also realized that my mom has left behind some roasted vermicelli in a packet. So I thought OK, let's make something with vermicelli.

The only issue was that I have never made anything with vermicelli before. I know how to cook about 4-5 dishes only and vermicelli is not one of them. Then I thought, "What the heck! How hard can it be! I will just put together some stuff and see how it goes..."

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am proud to state that I cooked my own recipe and it turned out to be Absolutely Yummilicious! Muhhahahaha! God, am just too good.

I think I will share the recipe here! It is very easy to make (5-7 minutes if you are fast with chopping onions or longer, if you are not) and is a complete dish on its own (you don't need any curries or chutneys to go with it)!

So here is presenting Shilpa Krishnan's Chilli Vermicelli Dhamaka! :D

Ingredients (am sure you can add more stuff than below, but this is all I had in the kitchen):
Onions - 2
Green chillies (the chilli padi kinds) - 3
Tomato - 1
Garlic - 1 clove
Ginger - small piece
Egg - 1
Urad Daal
Roasted Vermicelli (the brand I used was Bambino) - 1 cup
Maggi Chilli Garlic sauce
Salt to taste
Cooking Oil

Heat the oil in a pan. Add in the mustard and urad dal. After it starts to splutter, add in the green chillies, garlic and ginger. After a minute, add in the chopped onions and tomato. Once the onions turn a bit brown, add water and salt. Once the water starts to boil, add in the vermicelli and keep stirring. If the water has drained and the vermicelli is not cooked enough, add in a bit more water and let it boil until the vermicelli is completely cooked. The dish would already be quite tasty at this stage, however you can give it a bit more fire by adding in the Maggi Chilli Garlic sauce (this was actually my special touch)! If you are a strict vegetarian or vegan, you can stop here. The dish is already tasty awesome. Else, break an egg and add that in. Mix well until it looks like scrambled egg mixed with the vermicelli.

Ok then. That's Shilpa Krishnan's Chilli Vermicelli Dhamaka! Enjoy! :D

So there you go! My first ever recipe! Who would have thought this blog would carry my own recipe!

You have no idea how proud am feeling of myself! If it was physically possible, I would have patted my back throughout the night! I really have progressed on the "Ladies' Scale of Perfection". All that remains now is shopping, manicure, pedicure, facials, accessorizing and other such beautification procedures. If those are also added to my life, I guess I would be pretty much The Perfect Lady. Maybe in the upcoming 758 days, I might just achieve that. Or not. Oh well.

758 more to go.

Days 240 and 241: Ditto

15 Jul & 16 Jul 2010

I actually didn't write any posts for these two days simple because I was too tired to get myself to switch on the computer and think of something to write. But now that I have had some rest, when I sit back and think about it, I realize that what I enjoyed most about these days is exactly what I enjoyed the day before. In fact, all three days were freakishly similar with:

a) Immense amount of work in the office that leaves me with no time get a proper meal, eyes that are constantly watery with the strain and a head buzzing with thoughts leading to fitful sleeping at night.
b) "Me" time in the evening which tries to compensate point "a" above with mindless television watching (only the shows were different), take-out dinner at home and a glass of wine.

So while "a" got me exhausted, "b" was what I enjoyed on all three days. But I guess it is time to get out of that routine because film work is pending and I might just be turning into a couch potato after all.

759 more to go.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Day 239: Couch Potato

16 Jul, 2010

I think it's been a while since I relaxed on the couch and watched TV for a few hours, without any distraction. Didn't realize how much I missed it!

There was a ton of work again at office, and I got back home by about 9 after packing dinner for hubby and myself. We had a pretty relaxed, long dinner, watching TV. Hubby decided to open a bottle of wine, to celebrate his recovery from the fever I believe. That was a good idea because we had not sat back and enjoyed a glass of wine like that for ages.

So today after a long time, I got to sit down over dinner and wine and watch the first episode of Glee (AWESOME!), some episode of How I Met Your mother (Hilarious as always), a new episode of Desperate Housewives (Ridiculous as always), Cougar Town (Boring) and then finally American Idol.

It was a welcome change and felt good!

761 more to go

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Day 238: 4256

This is rather incredible. A film maker friend of mine has offered help for editing my film, which would be a huge relief if it works out because editing is surely back breaking work. I have edited about 40 mins of the movie but still there's tons more to go and it would really help for a new pair of eyes to look at the already edited material as well to give it an even more interesting spin if possible! So am very excited about the whole thing.

But if he is editing, it means that I need to give him all the files in a properly organized manner. So that was what I was doing the whole evening. Organizing and reorganizing the files so that it is very clear which shot belongs to which scene and they are easy to track.

And in the process, I discovered something rather incredible to me. I have done a total of 4256 shots for the movie so far! Am not sure whether that is too much or too little for about 50min worth of edited footage but still, to me it feels like a whole life has already been spent on it! Phew!!!!!

And am not even half way through technically. Gulp.

But it's OK. I guess it feels good to just look back to see how much one has come, to get oneself going forward.

So here's to the 4256 shots I have taken and my poor actors who gave me those.

762 more to go.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Day 237: Nursing Cook. Cooking Nurse.

I had made a lot of fuss about my once-a-year cooking expedition on Dec 31st last year. Cooking a meal is a very significant thing in my life because I do this particular activity very rarely, the average being once a year. And actually I had already completed the quota for 2010 on January 1st and was planning to chop and stir only next year.

But God had other plans. My hubby fell ill with a fever and a bad throat yesterday night. Usually I don't pay much attention to his laments because he makes a mountain out of a molehill when it comes to illnesses. But I knew this one was a bad bout, because instead of wallowing in self pity, he was sitting in a corner quietly. So of course, all the goodness in me overflowed. I was like getting him medicines, fruits, food etc. etc. and in short, pampering him.

This morning when he said he will not be going to office, I was convinced that he must be feeling really weak because my great hubby never misses a day of work if he can help it. Work is life. Work is religion. Work is everything. You get the point. So anyway, I still had to go to office but then I came back home in the afternoon with some food packed for him. I thought I made a good choice of the packed food which was rice with dal, potatoes and chicken - just the stuff that he likes. He just had two bites of this wonderful meal and wasted the rest of it quoting the reason to be lack of appetite. He told me that the same thing had happened in the morning when he ordered McDonalds breakfast.

That's when it dawned upon me. What the hubby needed was good home cooked food by his wife. Surely there is no chef in Singapore who can beat his wife's culinary skills in spite of the fact that she puts them to use only once in a year. (Disclaimer: He has never articulated these opinions to me but I know this is exactly what passes through his mind time and again).

So after I was done with my work, I set out to buy vegetables and other necessary items required for cooking. I came back and made him a delicious egg curry that he gulped down with several slices of bread. I felt so fulfilled. It's like I came in touch with my maternal, house-wifely instincts today. This nurse cum cook work was definitely a change from the office and film work and I did rather enjoy it. So much so that I even washed the dishes and cleaned up the kitchen in no time (which usually is the most hated part about cooking for me)!

Of course, I did warn him not expect this to be a daily, or for that matter weekly or monthly, affair. But for today this worked.

763 more to go.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Day 236: Blooper

11 July, 2010

I had written yesterday about all the atrocities that can happen during an outdoor shoot. Sometimes, ridiculously hilarious atrocities. Today was outdoor shoot day 2, and well.... the atrocities continued.

You can watch the below link, when one Indian uncle happily walks into the frame, apparently taking a photograph of his wife, (who in the background was pleading him to consider the poor folks who were hovering around with a camera trying to make a film) almost trampling my poor actress in the process. I could not help but record a bit of it.

Need I say more? Obviously with this, and many such incidents, this was a 10 hour shoot to remember.

764 more to go.

Day 235: Filmy Blues

10 July, 2010

Today was the first day of proper end-to-end outdoor shoot for me. Till date, almost all the scenes I shot were indoors, but today our first location was a small garden in the premise of my apartment followed by a shoot near Changi beach. Someone recently told me that I should be writing a book about the process of making a film with close-to-zero budget. I think I can definitely already write some of the key learnings I have taken away just within this one day!

So here we go. If you are thinking of making a film, with some outdoor locations, but has no money to control the environment you are in, the below pointers might just help.

a) Watch out for the clouds - You maybe just half way through a beautifully rendered dialogue by a cast member, when a silly cloud would decide to block the sun and suddenly you have gone from a lighted frame to a pitch dark one. Then you would adjust the camera settings to suit the darkened atmosphere and right in the middle of the next take, the sun would have had enough of hiding behind the clouds and would come out and shine in all its glory. So how did we overcome this? We just waited until the clouds covered the entire sky. That was only a matter of time, considering we are in Singapore. Plus of course, I reshot all that was shot again, much to the annoyance of my cast.

b) Remember, people stare - I thought people in Singapore were like the non-staring, well-mannered citizens of the developed era. But nope. They stare. Especially if you have a pretty actress. Then they simply gawk. For example a particular Indian dude of an uncle, walked past staring at my actress. Then he decided that she was really pretty, so much so that he walked on and twistedhis neck to continue staring even when she was well beyond his field of vision. The result was me getting footage on my camera that included a) my actress rendering her dialogues, blissfully unaware of her admirer and b) the admirer in the background, staring at the actress and almost spraining his neck in the process. Obviously that's useless footage.

c) People love being on camera - And am talking about passers-by who simply love to walk between your camera and the subject you are trying to capture, in spite of having an entire park or beach to walk on around them. They choose to just cut across, making sure that a glimpse of their head or tummy or ass or whatever bodypart that's in line with the lens, is captured on tape for posterity. The only thing to do under such circumstances is to breathe deeply hoping that you don't pop a vein and simply reshoot with the consolation that you have enough footage to go for the bloopers video.

c) Praying works - At least it did for me. When we were shooting at Changi Beach Park, the sky turned from a stark cloudless blue with a blazing sun to one filled with heavy black clouds that posed a downpour threat. In fact halfway down the shoot, a few drops fell for about a minute or two, during which I held an umbrella over the camera, and prayed with all my heart that the shoot doesn't get cancelled. Because Changi Beach Park is a ridiculous $50 cab ride from my house and the scene is super long and we will have great difficulty in going all the way there again and reshooting the whole scene. So I just prayed and prayed and prayed. The drizzle stopped and we managed to complete the whole scene, with all the angles and emotions I wanted to capture. And believe it or not, just as I said "It's a Wrap!", and dismantled the camera from the tripod and placed it in the camera bag, it started pouring! The team ran and took shelter under a bus stop. It was almost as if the rain waited for the shoot to end, so it could happily pour in peace. A pure coincidence you may say, but I like to believe the prayer worked. :)

So there, you can see it was a colourful day! Am guessing I would have many more such experiences before the shoot is finally wrapped for good. It's going to be another interesting month ahead!

765 more to go.

Day 234: My Life

9 July, 2010

I think today pretty much summarizes what my life is about. It started with a breakfast meeting (read "work"), followed by flight from Guangzhou to Singapore (read "travel"), rehearsal with a new cast member for the film as soon as I landed (read "film work") and last but not the least, dinner with hubby (read "family time"). All of which was fun but ended up making me feel exhausted. I think i have mentioned this before, but every time I get back home from a trip abroad, makes the day beautiful. It is simply good to be back where you belong even though it means fighting with the hubby over what to order for dinner (we ended on something both of us like, FYI). Plus the fact the day encapsulated whatever my life is about, makes it rather interesting as well.

766 more to go.


Friday, July 9, 2010

Day 233: Frog

Today was yet another productive day at the stylish Guangzhou office of Saatchi & Saatchi. Yes the office was pretty much the same with its comfort rooms, people snoozing away at their desks at noon, central perk cafe, wave theatre etc. and the meeting was also pretty much the same - the same brain-stretching discussions and agreements for 9 hours. But it was productive I have to admit, and I quite enjoyed myself in spite of feeling totally exhausted by the end of it.
Anyway, so other than my work which seems to be the greatest thing in my life currently, what made my day beautiful today you may ask. The answer is - FOOD! This China trip surely turned out to be a lot more tastebud-focused than I could have imagined. Today's dinner was at yet another Cantonese restaurant where about 25 different dishes were served. And they were really good! I think it is absolutely a wrong perception that authentic Chinese food is bland and healthy. It in fact can be really spicy or sour or salty and it definitely is not healthy. This is the key thing I have learnt about Chinese food about the last few days and it is the key reason why I am enjoying it so much. It's just the kinda food I love - tasty, which usually results in it being unhealthy! Some of the highlights were buns that are eaten after being dipped in - guess what - condensed milk!!, a dessert that had grated coconut and peanuts, an amazing veggie soup and an interesting pork dish among others.
AND very importantly, I had my first (and probably the last) helping of F.R.O.G meat. Now now, it's not that am an adverturous person when it comes to trying out exotic meat. It all started because my colleague, an Australian babe, decided she wants to have frog meat. That was a shocker because just like me, she had declined a chicken dish simply because along with the meat from the rest of the parts of the chicken's body, they had also aesthetically placed its head complete with beak on the plate. That had ruined both our interest in it while the rest of the crowd zipped through the dish, apparently unaware that the chicken was looking at them. Just when I thought I had found at least one person who had the same sane taste as mine, she says, "I wanna have frog. But I will have it only if you have it."
Me: "Erm.. .OK...  but why do you want me to have it?!"
She: "You musssssttttt!!!"
(I didn't think that was a convincing argument so I hesitated).
Me; Erm.....
She: Come one, let's be adventurous!!! We should try it once at least!!!
After a bit of to and fro on this, we decided to give it a try. The Chinese table turned and the dish landed in front of us. We stared at it. And picked up a piece each. Both our pieces turned out to be garlic instead of frog meat. Upon another colleauge insisting that the garlic is like super good, I had it but must say I don't share his opinion about it. Anyway, after consuming the garlic from a frog dish, the Australian chick and I felt that now we were ready to take on the frog itself. She picked up a leg (which looked more like a tiny drumlet than anything else) and I picked up something that happened to look a lot worse. After tossing around the respective frog body parts on our plates for a while, we realized that we were not really making any progress with our "adventure" and now had the attention of the whole table waiting for us to just pop the damn stuff into our mouths.
The Aussie said, "OK I tell you what... lets split the leg. Yours look gross anyway."
That sounded fine. So that's what we did. She split the leg. We got a gram of frog meat each. We countdown till 3. "Should we chew?!!", the babe asks interrupting the countdown at one point. "Yes please, am not gonna swallow a frog for sure!", I said dramatically. We popped it into our mouths. The crowd clapped. It was over. We are officialy frog eaters.
Xie Xie Ni China. Am one of yours.
767 more to go.
P.S. In case you are wondering what it tasted like, well... it had no taste whatsoever. I guess they did make this one bland.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Day 232: "Comfort Room", "Wave Theatre" and Terrific Food

Visiting agency offices are always fun. And I mean those creative agencies. They always have funky decor, interesting wall hangings and a super cool attitude about their working environment. Today, the whole day was spent at Saatchi & Saatchi's Guangzhou office. It was my first time there and I loved it!
Firstly they have a "comfort room". Which basically means a room with soft flooring like a nursery, a crib (?!), several soft toys that are about my size, those huge spongy bedroom slippers that have cartoon characters on top and a nice seating area that looks like kids' work area. That was super cool! Then they had a wonderful meeting room which they call the Theatre. It definitely had theatre styled seating, with the only differenc being that instead of seating with chairs, they had a formation like waves on the floor. You can just sit on the crest of a wave or at its trough and rest your back against the curve. I had never seen a room like that before so that was also super funky! Only thing was that, after showing us this funky space, they said they are shifting the meeting to a more conventional room because apparently post one hour, all participants in the wave-room usually end up with a backache. OK, not very ergonomically designed then. Still, funky it definitely is! They also had a cafe within the floor which was aptly named Central Perk and which produced a constant flow of drinks and food (including proper meals like Chicken Rice!). As you can see, am thoroughly impressed! And last but not the least, just after lunch, half the folks in the office took out their pillows and went into an unabashed siesta at their desk. Apparently, that's Chinese working culture for you. Who would have thought!
After a day of long but productive meeting at this cool place, we did what we do best - have a good team dinner! And man, the food in China has once again taken me by complete surprise! It was AWESOME! I stufffed myself with dim sum - two kinds, fried rice, mushroom dish, a dish of duck with beans and celery, some egg dish, pork, beef, tofu (soyabean curd), an awesome dessert (like really, really awesome) made of "red dates" that looked like light chocolate cake but tasted far better and of course the inevitable green tea which wasnt as great on its own but added to the overall experience! I was satisfied. Truly.
So yes, it was a really fun day thanks to the agency's creativity and the chef's creativity! :)
768 more to go.

Day 231: Two Workouts, One Day

6 July, 2010
Firstly let me thank some of the kind readers who read the previous post and pointed out that I have messed up the number of the day (I think I wrote "Day 229" for what's rightfully "Day 230"). Well, the thing is I have no access to my own blog from here in China. In the process of getting its population secured from the blasphemy of wordly news, China has successfully denied my birthright of access to my own dear blog. Which means I can't visit the link and also not However, has cleverly given an option whereby you can email blogs to a certain address which will then be automatically published. And "Day 229" or rather, "Day 230" was the first such successful publication of mine. Only catch was that I couldn't visit the site first to check what number I was at the day before (and nope, I couldn't remember this significant detail that had passed just 24 hours prior. Am aging after all). Nor can I go back and edit this whole numbering system until I get back to Singapore on Friday. So yes, thanks, duly noted and shall be repaired within the next 48 hours.
OK getting back to 6th July.
I had to think a bit about 6th July. I mean, honestly nothing cool happened other than doing a ton of work and attending a string of meetings throughout the day. Much as I love my work and think that it is one of the best things that happened to me, I wouldn't put the above mentioned events under the "beautiful" category.
That's when I realized hey wait, I actually did two workouts within one day! OK, fine... maybe "workout" is a stretch but I walked 40 mins in the morning in the gym and then again walked another 40 minutes in the gym in the evening. Now that could easily go under the "beautiful" category because it shows such single-minded dedication to keeping my health at its peak. A dedication which was completely missing the last couple of months. Walking might not be quite the most effective of all excercises, however it is indeed something and am happy to have done something while I am travelling. It makes me less guilty about all that yummilicious food!
So yes, it was a good good day!
769 more to go (hope the numbers are correct this time).

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Day 229: Being Young

5 July, 2010
Am currently in Guangzhou for work. I've been here before once and was not a fan of the city. That time, the whole place felt ultra dull. One couldn't see the sun for days and it was raining most of the time. It was one of the rare places that I have personally come across that actually felt "grey" like the ones you read about in Victorian novels. However, good news is that this time when we landed, things were looking bright and sunny. I mean really bright and sunny. Those who complain of Singapore being hot, should really make their way to Guangzhou. This place is HOT. Like H.O.T. Do you get what I mean? Let me repeat - It is Freaking Hot!!!
In spite of the above mentioned heat, I did find the day interestingly beautiful.
In my line of work, we do a fair bit of consumer work - sometimes on men, sometimes on women, sometimes on younger people, soemtimes on older people etc. So this time, the turn was for younger people. After doing some consumer understanding of youngsters these days, the team whose average age is not less than 35 decided that we should also live the "young life" for a day.
And what does that mean in Guangzhou? Firstly, go shopping at Tee-mall - the only mall that seems to be around. My manager says that every time she has been in Guangzhou, she has been taken to the Tee-mall. So that must be a pretty happening place. So the whole bunch of us (around 15) walked around Tee-mall. Then we had an excellent dinner, which I guess is not specifically "young" but still is worth mentioning since I usually don't take to the food in China, but this was really good stuff. The trick is not to be fussy and ask what you are eating, otherwise you will end up feeling sick. So as long as you focus on the taste, you will be OK.
And last but not the least, came....wait for it....  Clubbing - The Ultimate Youth Experience!
Now, I am not a club person at all. But in the spirit of teamwork, I tagged along. Interestingly, instead of drinking alcohol and dancing around (which is what I assume clubbing is supposed to be), we sat in a karaoke room inside the club. I don't really know which moron came up with this whole karaoke business idea but all it does is give the people with zero singing talent a chance to screech and pretend they are celebrities, while the fellow karaoke-ers cringe in their seats, waiting for their turn so that they can take revenge for what has been afflicted on them. Still, it was quite an experience watching and being part of the "Let's be young" gang. So there was karaoke, games, alcohol and everything but dancing. I was a silent spectator most of the time mainly because I couldn't understand the complicated chinese dice games they were playing and had no interest in demonstrating my super-cool singing talent amongst such a big group.
But I did have a good time. The meeting prior to the "being young" party was good, the food was great, the whole experience was rather enjoyable. So here's to all the young-at-heart ones!  
771 more to go.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Day 229: Mexican and Lebanese

I had a decent day of shoot today. I say "decent" and not "good" because we managed to complete only a part of the shoot while the rest had to be postponed due to unpredictable weather conditions.

So the unpredictable weather conditions resulted in unexpected free time on my hands. So the hubby and I set out to do what we love doing the most - Eat good food. We went to Holland Village, a caucasian habited area of Singapore that we used to frequent during our university time because it was the only "cool" place near campus during those days. But the cool place is currently very far from our home and we haven't been there for ages. So we decided to go check it out.

First we went to the Mexican restaurant El Patio. Now, if you like Mexican food or for that matter any food at all, you MUST try the Pepper Chicken Fajita there. It is like YUMMMMM. Am not that great a fan of Mexican food, but I found this one Absolutely Terrific. Then we went to Al Humra, a Lebanese place. There we ordered a kebab soupish thingy with some kinda flavoured rice (from that description you can make out that I have completely forgotten the name of the dish). Now, this one was also tasty no doubt. But what was super cool about the place was that the complimentary starter that they serve are olives (black and green), pickles and carrots. I love olives and the ones I had today at Al Humra top any kind of olive I have had before. The black olives especially were mouth-watering. And so were the pickle which was so apt for my tangy-taste-loving taste buds.

In short, the gap in having a satisfying shoot was made up with a whole load of delicious food. All in all, a tasty day!

771 more to go.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Day 228: Babies!

People say working with children can be the hardest thing. You ask them to come here and they would readily go in the opposite direction. You ask them to keep quiet and they would shriek at the top of their voices. You ask them to say something and they would go mum as if they never learnt how to speak. In other words, the unpredictability is tremendous. So working with babies, who don't even understand what we are trying to achieve with them, leads the unpredictability to a different level altogether.

Today, for the first time ever, I had to work with a baby for the film. This 5-month old is the youngest member of the team and today he debuted in front of the camera. The scene required the mom-character to hold him for a while first and then the dad-character to hold him as well.

Needless to say, the baby found the whole bunch of us absolutely unworthy of his smiles and the other cute things babies do, and instead cried his way through the shoot. At one point the dad-character said "Man...he is crying!! I mean, there are like tears and all!" I told him my best guess is that babies do produce tears when they cry, much like us adults.

But interestingly, the dad-character was the one who better handle the baby while the mom-character almost looked as if she is gonna drop him at any point, leaving me biting my lips in tense anticipation. And on top the shoot that was meant to be wrapped up in an hour went on for about 3 hours or so... mainly because the baby needed some food or his nanny or his mummy or his beauty sleep or all of the above.

Anyway, am glad to let you know that I managed to get all the shots that I wanted and it was as successful a shoot as it could have been. We got some excellent shots whenever the baby decided to take a break from crying. At other times when the baby kept on crying, the pressure fell on the mom and dad characters to act really well so we could distract the audience from the crying baby. That strategy seemed to have worked and we got some excellent shots then too. So all in all, we worked well with the unpredictability of babies.

So here is to the baby and the interesting experience he gave the team today!

772 more to go.

Day 227: The Fun is Back!

2 July, 2010

For two weeks now, I had not done any work related to the film. No shoot. No edit. Not even watching the footage. It's been so crazy at office and with travelling etc., that film was a long way off my mind, except for some never-ending scheduling work I always seem to have.

But today I ended up with some unexpected time on my hands. A meeting ended three hours earlier than expected and so I used that time to sit down on the edit.

And that was interesting because after the last two weeks, I think I was almost beginning to feel disconnected with the film, because everything else was so overwhelming. I was not doing the "fun" part of it, which is visualizing it and executing it via shoots and edits. Instead the only film related work was scheduling and logistics and rescheduling and logistics and rescheduling and did I mention logistics?! And these things get really tiring when the "fun" part is not visible.

But editing for a few hours brought back just that. The FUN of making the film. I love the way the scenes seem to come together. These are scenes that I had seen in my head several months ago and now am seeing them on the screen! That's an incredible feeling! Whichever way the film turns out eventually, the experience of working on it is simply fantastic.

So there. The FUN is back! And now am looking forward to tomorrow's shoot!

773 more to go.

Day 226: Pyjama Party

1 July, 2010

We had a pyjama party. Well, almost.

By "we", I mean my team at work. We had a meeting in office until midnght. A global call using video conferencing and all that cool stuff connecting people from seven different sites. And it was an effective meeting.

But to add some fun to it, my manager suggested that we should bring pyjamas to the meeting to drive the point that it is indeed very late in Asia.

Well, it so happened that only she bothered to get her pyjamas. By the time I received the note about it, it was too late and the rest in the team were a bit embarrassed I guess. Still, it was too much fun! There was a ton of food and drinks and it was indeed a pyjama party, minus the pyjamas for the rest of us.

I must say the 7pm - 12am meeting that I was dreading and cribbing about, passed by without much of a problem at all! In fact, if it's this fun, I don't mind a few more!

774 more to go.