So Funeral aside what else did I get up to in my one week holiday home? get on set of course!
I got on Maria Tran's Hit girls set which is pretty hot with lady bits, action and firearms, her man happens to be an engineer and some sort of arms dealer, so the production had home made remote detonating blood pack squibs that blow bloody holes in shirts and gas loaded hand guns that cock back with each fire, some even had a burst fire mode!
As a male of course that is all awesome. He also happens to be head of a mixed martial arts dojo meaning we have access to a school of stunties and bullet fodder.
myself was just another one to get 3 seconds of gun down.
Project went smoothly and you can keep up to date with it on FB with this link.
Performance Rating 9/10
Easy, it's another 3 seconds of Dying screen time, did it in one take, although another take is not really an option because my clothes get blown and bloody, but still, happy with that expression.
Mmm, Wormy - Click to see video - Please Vote, not just like!
But that's not all, just before I left I was going to go on a Road trip to Kangaroo Valley... wherever and how many kangaroos there were there, I wanted to find out, in the last minute I was asked to do a competition promo clip for a online board games shop, naturally I choose to act, another small sacrifice.
Also in the mess of my Yes I can make it man attitude I was hanging out with Nick before jetting off again and lost track of time, in the rush I forgot my make up, btw perhaps because of how thrashed I got during Halloween, I've had a acne break out, look after yourselves kids.
Currently the video is Ranked second and we need votes Desperately to win people choice. we are up against tough competition and our video is a very down to earth entry.
Performance rating: 7/10
Forgot make up, was distracted by recent funeral events and forgot to warm up, so some lines are fluffy.
Other than that, performance was a solid gummy worm sandwich. which I occasionally swallowed.
Coming Back to Singapore was a pretty smooth transition, almost as if I never left, applied for an audition at the departure gate and auditioned the day after touch down. Student film contract the next day and wardrobe as lead for a medicover company, will be able to pay rent again, living on the edge. A total of about 6 auditions in 4 days, 3 student films (just got a text that I landed 1), 1 indie, 1 tvc and 1 print ad, also performed as gin promoting barber at the airport departure hall for 2 nights (more on that next entry). next audition is on Tuesday for something I forget (it gets hard to keep up with myself) and tomorrow I'm assumed extra for an Aldi TVC, howzat for a return.
Don't Look Back... For Too Long.
This is a very of a personal entry, and you can get a good peak at my private /family life, and how much of a freak I maybe as an Actor. I just came back to Singapore from Sydney.
2 weeks ago I was faced with one of the more difficult decisions in my life. So I was in Singapore, doing what I do.
Kim and nick were flying back the next day so I told them to call home, which reminded myself it was about time i done the same. Turns out that my grandmother on my mom’s side is unwell and in hospital, I told my parents I can drop everything and jet over if the condition gets critical. But... did i really mean that? Well here I will try to analyse how I was thinking.
now don't get me wrong, I do love my grandmother, although I was never too close to her, Hardly even spared a thought let alone speak to her, none of my Australian made cousins or the 3rd gens seem to be. There is too much of a language barrier and generation gap, there isn't really anything of common interest or current relevance to discuss between us, this also applies to my late grandfather. (precious blog entries that vapourised with MSN spaces)
I regretted not spending more time with him before he passed, I was too occupied with being a first year uni student at the time in 2005.
Although I didn't want to repeat that, in the last 7 years or so I have not changed at all.
I did get to see my gran just feeling tired at home in bed 3 months ago. I hate to make promises I cannot keep, being a massive YES and CAN man meant that I'd say a lot of things just to make people happy, but being pressed for time meant that I couldn't spend more time with her before I left even though I said I should be able to.
My family are very genuine simple hardworking honest people, sheltered types that would not fight for rights or bend rules or persuade people, eat what they earn and not exploit anything for a pinch of advantage, they would just let it flow like fate and regulations (consider me the grey sheep) my father for example retired doing the same job he had since touching aussie soil and had racked up 4 months of leave or some ridiculous like that because the concept of chucking sickie was nonexistent. My parents would always give me dirt on rushing things all the time, not being at home, bending rules, not having a stable (stale) job and basically cutting thing too close and always saying it’s too late for things like dinner when I rush out the door, in this case it's my conscience telling me I should spend more time with grandmother.
Although my grandmother wouldn't have felt disappointed with me not seeing her again, It does hurt me to not fulfill an offer for an elder (pictures myself waiting in solitary drama for grandchildren to visit). but thats not all, that 2 weeks ago, a day following my call, my brother called and told me if I was to come back it better be tomorrow or so because grandmother's condition was critical, she hasn't been able to eat for a few days, and I said something along the lines of "I'll see. "
On my end I was booked for a few more gigs, auditions, waiting for call- backs and particularly an exclusive movie premiere, basically I was pushing it a bit more than usual. I've always wanted and urgent call to see a dying relative, race against the clock and be by their side as they pass in hospital, just like in the movies, but not while I was working as an actor overseas. Twisted I know, but this is a blog from someone with a taste for the screen theatrics.
Since my brothers mid-week update, I called home every day to see if she was still alive so I could feel a false sense of security to push my return date to next Tuesday when I’ve fulfilled most of my callings. I got a text from bro on Saturday, Grandma passed early morning. I woke up read the message and went back to sleep for majority of the day, I didn't deserve life that day. I woke up in the noon, booked my flight back on Wednesday just as planned then took another long nap and then walked about 4 suburbs to the nearest temple and managed to get in at 4.30pm to pay barely any respect as they closed at 4pm, bending rules again. I then went home and to bed again but that night I couldn't sleep.
I was warned and i was aware of the guilt that I would bestow if I had not made it back in time to see her alive, maybe this burden was something i wanted aside from work... it's crazy. But at the same time i knew my grandmother respected hard work and career, and would have wanted what's best for me. Though I’m not even sure if there is an expression for career in Chinese.
When I came back to syd for the funeral Mehran told me that it was nobler to tend to family matters of life, health and death first even if it means hindering your career, you just have to work a bit harder afterwards. I had 2 calls for castings in this single week of being back in Sydney, everything I fail to do stays with me. So I’m quite married to this field.
I shot my grandmother's funeral, now I can cross that off my shoot experience bucket list. I edited it and am going to share it with my known relos in Vietnam and us and Canada, after all I was the only one capable of it, i have become the family's messenger. I was also the only one that stepped up to improvise a decent eulogy on the spot in English (I probably would have said something insensitive colloquially if I attempted Cantonese) I did feel
Nervous as it was not something I had delivered before even though only the 3rd gens/cousins would understand.
Performance Rating 5/10
I delivered but it could have been better for improv, and a lot better for an eulogy. some prep would have been good of course. Some shakes and blanks but touching and special to me at least to speak, since I have been such a selfish scumbag grandson of false promises, this and working on the funeral video gave me some repentance, redemption and closure.
It's all in Chinese and Vietnamese, I dun geddit.
On the drive to the airport to drop myself off for my 4th flight to Singapore today, I was talking to my mother, I told her how I am disappointed in myself for saying what I couldn't bring myself to do and not having proper priorities. she said that it's nothing, your aunty from Canada wasn’t even in a position to fly in to attend the funeral, and grandmother said that it's only dying not much point in seeing that, in sweeter English words that would mean you've seen me in my prime, that’s what counts.
I told my mother, I assure you that if you are ever in danger of health I would drop everything and see you... she said not to worry about it, if you have important work or were unable to it’s alright... she probably doesn’t mean that, but it's endearing to know that what she probably meant is I am decent son and I don't need to prove that I love her.
I may have lacked the nurture and support to accelerate my talents but the simplicity of my family makes it far more comforting to pursue my dreams, no pressure, except for my own.
I Attended the premiere of this film on the 6th of November before I left the country on urgent matters (more on that on another entry) and thought I’d express my views as a slanty but wide eye’d performer from behind cameras of Australia.
First off, I have trained and studied hard for almost a year to fully understand Singlish and Singapore culture and this film was a true test of any how blur or siao I've become (Meaning crazy), so at the same time I will try to explain singaporean stuff. I thoroughly enjoyed the film, it was unlike anything i have experienced before (Though the Asians speaking English local channel 5 comes close).
To describe the film for a western audience is a bit difficult, so here I go... a dramedy action flick on a dialect and local culture overdosed roller coaster. The vibes of the film constantly swings from light hearted family fun, crude toilet jokes, boy-girl relationship drama, over the top humor and flashbacks/historical myths/anecdote cutaways that although well done are really exhausting and take you out of the main story. The film also serves as army documentary parody-ganda, because It makes fun, celebrates and promotes National service, director Jack Neo (yes a name very similar to mine) also made a public announcement that the film received no funding from the government ministry of defense and he had free roam on the story and what it portrays, perhaps this movie is a leap in freedom of speech, as the biggest director in Singapore and if anyone was allowed to make a film about army it would be him.
The film’s main story is about a spoilt and short fused boy, Ken Chow played by Joshua Tan as he transitions into Singapore’s 2 year army training, (which is eventually compulsory after you hit 18 as a citizen, correct me if I’m wrong) hence the title “Boys to men” the “Ah” is just a Asian sentence enhancer/sweetener. Joshua’s performance is rather meh in my opinion, not outstanding as he is supposed to represent the boy next door going army. Ken really shows his temper when he is arguing with his girlfriend, it is shallow but he does it well, however this trait is inconsistent as he is rather docile and indifferent when his parents are arguing about the benefits or pain of National service. This conscription process changes lives because it takes two years of every Singaporean man’s life to an off shore camp at Pulau Tekong where “hopes and dreams die” (Leo - 2012). This leaves more ladies to roam Singapore freely and commonly army girlfriends get into juicy trouble but this is a boy’s story so the female characters like the Ken’s girlfriend played by local blogger Bong Qiu qiu are left rather paper thin, and we will leave it at that. All this shallowness is forgiven because of how unique (at least to me) this film this is armed to the bone marrow and soul with local in jokes, slang and at least 5 dialects, Jack Neo gives apparently his signature infectiously humorous look at Singapore.
There is also a heavy dose of local celebrities like Ken’s Mom, played by Irene Ang, there are probably a lot more celebs that I don’t know, but Irene Ang blows every actor of the film out of the water with her consistently flawless performance of the over protective mother, her humor comes from her over the top out bursts and long winded negotiations/demands at almost every moment of screen time she has.
Technically, I have performed with Irene as she hosted an over the top costume birthday party as poison Ivy with ushers such as me as a bloody mad street doctor. She actually said I was her favorite.
Another nod I can give to the casting is for finding Singapore’s top boys next door types for supporting and featured cameo cast like Maxi lim, Alvin Richard, Aizuddiin Nasser, Daniel Humphrey Kokchun and my first time acting matrep bro Ridhwan Azman as Recruit Ismail, many of these guys I have been on set with before. It is not often I get to see friends on the screen, so I was overwhelmingly endeared and jealous to see so many fellow performers on the big screen.
These “boys next door types” represent the nation’s different races and many army stereotypes types, like maxi Lim as the over enthusiastic goody 2 shoes star recruit, Aizuddiin as the Indian guy, local V-logger Noah yap as the self-obsessed recruit and my favorite Lo-Bang played by Wang Wei Lang, the helmet haired too cool for school contrabands dealer from Sim Lim Square (more on that next paragraph).
It was obvious that the dual English and Chinese subtitlers (all movies have the 2 subtitles in singapore I think) had serious problems translating the sheer amount of jokes and multi-lingual ping pong (heck I can't even remember the names of the characters). For example Sim Lim Square where Lo-Bang is from, is an iconic local computing and electronic goods complex of 6 floors, you have to keep your wits about because it is somewhat dodgy, unfortunately this is lost in translation as it was subtitled as “the school of hard knocks” if I remember.
However Sometimes the slang and jargon is portrayed in such a way that you learn a new term in the process, for example in the screen grab here,"Diam" is Hokkien and Teochew dialect meaning quiet and or still, though I already knew that, I just never mixed it in with my English, but that is the magic of Singlish, and it isn't so hard to pick up, just listen.
Some jokes were in Malaysian or Hokkien slang mixed into English and subtitled phonetically (aka. the legendary Singlish) while locals knew what words meant, the best single English word translations were added in brackets to try explain it. I can’t think of an example right now..
When I first heard of this film back in April I was actually auditioning for a featured role and took Ridhwan with me as baggage and encouraged him to enlist and he got the role as in his words a cute Malay boy who has a hard time coping with the training, and boy did it take him to the deep end (more on this guy's story soon). At the time all I knew was it was by Singapore’s most celebrated director but for some reason he does not show up on IMDB, why ah?
On technical notes, the film had a very large frame of 16:9 which I actually prefer to the wide and narrow 2.40:1 that is Hollywood standard. It also has plenty of aerial cranes and helicopter wide shots, which is not so common for Singaporean films apparently. I heard it was shot on a Red probably Scarlet, though I have noticed Image quality drops in some scenes and the codec breaks apart with a lot of noise in the darker scenes. Day scenes however are in breath-taking detail, with vibrant cityscapes exploding, the natural greens hues from the many long fours camouflage uniform and the forest’s CB leaves. It was all amazing work for what 6 months?
Mild Spoiler alert!
Effectively spammed with good intervals were high frame rate scenes like troops are called to mobilize, a Filipino maid being shot down and when Irene Ang throws her apron into the air… okay probably not the best example.
The most entertaining part of the film is the adrenaline rushing over the top CGI heavy introduction of Singapore under a devastating attack by an unknown terrorist enemy, best described as Cobra in G.I Joe. I was so happy watching this, because so many iconic and accessible Singaporean things blew up in my face like the Merlion, the pan Pacific hotel, local hawker centers HDBS and expressways/motorways, I would worship the filmmaker that would bring such chaos upon Sydney.
But at the same time soldiers were running round making jokes about being fat and not going to training in between civilians getting shot and making fart jokes plus using their bomb shelter as storage space (Apparently they have bomb shelters as a modern home feature, my rented apartment had one I think, we put chairs in there) it was all a bit hard to decide how to feel for the film, serious or humored. The violence and military hardware special effects were generous, slowdowns and bullet time was all in the right place, it was enough to give Michael bay a boner, well it came close enough to me anyway. A peak of these scenes in the trailer was commented on by netizens as looking fake and cheap, who were then counter flamed by popular V-logger/supporting self-obsessed recruit Noah Yap rather crudely, who was then criticized by STOMP (local online citizen journalism of juicy fun news) on his professionalism in doing so rudely, Noah Yap suits his role very well by the way. It was a bit of a letdown that this explosive introduction has nothing to do with the movie though and I saw that seconds into the trailer making it very misleading. I knew Singapore simply can’t afford a blockbuster with city ruins and explosions but still it was long enough to be a devilishly satisfying opening sequence that puts Singapore that much closer to Hollywood standards.
I leave this terribly written review with a GO, GO, GO see this film because it is that unique and a great leap for Singapore film as it has such and explosive opening sequence. Jack Neo has done it again (not that I know how he has done it before) casting everyday people and boys next door with popular you-tube v-loggers (great publicity) makes for a film that is an instant historical classic and milestone for Singapore. For any expat or foreigner in town, swallow the Singlish accent which makes it all seem like bad acting and hop on a rollercoaster of tangential storytelling, and mixed emotions from serious compassion-able drama with lols from fart jokes and over the top witty dialogue in several dialects. At the end of the film I was the only one embarrassingly cheering and clapping, no one else does that in singapore apparently... so don't do that. Boy, just be a man and watch lah, you will enjoy a film like no other sia.
Now to convince the Neo that the 3rd film needs an ABC (Australian Born Chinese) who enlists in NS to get permanent residence/citizenship to make it with his Singaporean Girlfriend who just leaves him anyway, oh the drama.
Also I'm confused but if I heard it right they were chanting "Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi, Oi, Oi!" while digging trenches in the rain at the end of the film's trailer for the second part... why? calling out to me?
I Had the Best Halloween ever, but at the same time My body was Thrashed. The biggest Ruckus was the Nick and Kim visited, and I had to look after them because I Really wanted to show them the life I had in Singapore. I managed to land them roles more or less as soon as they landed, I had to step over both their sleeping (or not) bodies every night almost because I always was the last to sleep.
We did go through the drama of friends living in close quarters and finding annoying things about each other, especially how me and nick would go off doing and talking guy things leaving Kim out of it. but heck they visited me on the busiest week of my life, the biggest thing I had to work around was Universal studios.
Sadly we were never on set together and I realised that we also never got photos together either.
On Set, not in Uniform... but got hat and Baton eh
Before I left back in August I did score the gig at Universal Studios for *drum roll* Halloween Horror Nights 2 ~ Technically A dream come true as I am a Massive Horror Fan. after jumping through several hoops to get my visa through and signing contract, it turns out that my role is underwhelmingly a security guard. Really? all this talent and you want me to be a plain uniformed security guard!? don't you have enough real ones already?
Turns out that the role was quite suitable for me actually and I did really grow into it. I am the first performer guests see as soon as they walk into the insanitarium (insane asylum/hospital/freak show). what I was required to do was pace back and forth at the entry, usher guests in and yell at them, the stage directions I got for this don't really make for much of a scary performance, so I took it upon myself to up the ante and hide/pop up as soon as the guests walk through the door (gives a jump 90% of the time but only works on the lead of the pack) and yell when people think I'm just a statue or looking else where (80% jumps, works only when they are distracted and squeamish), Bang my nightstick baton on the door frame as the last of the pack walk through (works 90%, This fake plaster wall frame was falling apart and I broke 2 sticks), I even sometimes stomp a foot in the path of unsuspecting slow moving packs of ladies who shriek and I then say it was a cockroach and then they shriek again.
(works 70% but rare opportunity to perform).
Yelling in the Change Room.
In the end I really appreciated the position, turns out that I am probably best suited as I did have a lot of room and stage time to play with, best of all I unlocked my Iron Lung/Adamantium throat warcry ability. After the first 2 nights of rehearsal I realised that my throat was hurting and thought back to vocal classes, how Maria de Marco (click to see her page) trained me how to recover from belting and straining the vocals. The secret is hold a bubble or pocket of air at the back of the mouth/tongue and for me push hard without swallowing, it is a miracle healing factor trick and I would do it before and right after yelling. There were all sorts of digital horror sounds playing from speakers in the house like wolf howls, whirlwinds and thunderstorms looping forever at high decibels, yet they could still hear and shriek my outbursts loud and clear every time. Unlike any other performer (self proclaimed) I was able to keep my voice every night and still psyche the team up with battle cries before and after shifts, indeed my yelling voice is now a performing weapon to be reckoned with.
Your one Security guard with one of the many inmates
I could have been any other inmate, hiding behind a curtain or door for a simple scare, or heavy (arguably relying) on makeup to scare or in a sweaty mask or tossing around in a cell or cage, or just walking around unnaturally. I really perfected my delivery and routine by the time the horror nights was over and I am thankful for this experience as I did manage to grow and discipline myself, I delivered like I know no one else could, sometimes ladies would run right back out the front door as soon as they entered and saw me perform, leaving their man with the make or break decision of going out after their terrified woman or walking through the house on their own after waiting 2 or more hours with their weak woman in the Queue. Devilishly Satisfying.
Despite having such a great performance I'm tempted not to do it again, mainly because performers do not get to experience anything that halloween itself has to offer, no parties, no other events, no days off (unless you do a sickie) hell we are not even supposed to walk through our own haunted house.. REALLY! management in USS is tight and strict and for good reason since there was at least 40 people to a house and if a special person like me is allowed creative freedom, then there will be chaos. the commitment time was high and late with over half a daily call time being waiting around (Nick and Kim visited precisely during the 2 weeks I was working). Although I did manage to find my own flavour within the restrictions I was always skating a fine line, and at the end of the day... I'd do this many many many times like an animatronic piece of theme park furniture. frankly I realise working in a theme park is exactly that and that is limiting for any artiste, but I do highly recommend it as an experience at least once in a Performing life for some discipline and fun and universal CV bragging rights. Universal studios also goes all out on expenses, manpower and effects and it is hardcore halloween lols that Australia never imagined.
Performance Rating: 7.8/10
(I could have perfected my technique earlier and some guests got away)
I did a Cameo on an independent film tentatively named RED.
A story of a married or divorced man who would do anything to get with this Karaoke bar singer. A classy Noir tale of forbidden love.
I played the role of Sash waiter, aside from the usual waiter job scopes basically I put the sash on the singer as high rollers put money on her, ludicrous amounts like $18888 are on the sashes, whether or not this is real in reality, I have my doubts.
Simon Wong and a young female co-star
The lead role was Simon Wong, who is an actor from UK who speaks fine english and cantonese so I was able to get along really well with him. he is the same guy in Mcdonald's Samurai burger TVC, he actually isn't japanese. (which is a wonderful asian themed burger we will never get it in Sydney by the way).
The budget was low but the Production was cast and crewed professionally and well equipped too (they shot on C300) with heaps of lights and props. But I will have to nit-pick their scheduling, everyone was passing out on set because there was a lot of early call times, like 6:30 am and even the godly hour of 4am on one occasion, this is of course to maximise the hire of the location and rather than work out a continuity laden schedule where everyone's time is optimised based on individual appearances, it's easier to call everyone for several hours a day. On my Day 2 of shoot I arrived at 4am and the night club space downstairs known as the Shanghai Dolly was still pumping half full, its 4am on a Working Tuesday morning, these people are *quote Simon* were "freaking mental" When Gangnam style was playing I put down my Breakfast Maccas and Hijak'd the stage.
After that morning op-op-oppa High I was passing out between every take mainly because I was thrashed from working at USS for halloween and also looking after Nick and Kim, I couldn't even be bother to take much photos. I had 2 hours sleep between each set and dipped in an out of the performance High and that was what kept me going, I can proudly say I've done a Cantonese Film now. That Monday we were all on different sets, I'm proud to say I managed to get us all gigs as soon as they landed.
Performance Rating: 4.5/10
Mainly Self Continuity issues since I didn't have lines.
left or right hand? when is my cue in the Cantonese song?
also stop Passing out ~ So Unprofessional.
Speaking of messed up and inefficient schedulings, earlier This Month I cameo'd as a featured Zombie in a independent series pilot titled Exodus, basically kept me on set for like 7 hours till the final scene, I actually had a mattress and a good sleep or 2. I was hesitant to do this shoot because it was low budget and had a long call time till 4am. The assistant producer didn't really know how to sell it to me but I wanted to be in a zombie flick so we emailed back and forth and caved when he described to me how cheesy the story was, I assumed it was to leave room for gore so I'm a sucker for that. So eventually I gave in, and good that I did, turns out it was shot in an abandoned School on a stormy night with no power everything running on a generator in the rain, definitely my scene. Below are photos I snapped from set.
The lead was Carl NG from Point of entry but the real reward was the other lead, Kay tong Lim, a legend in singapore and perhaps the world. He has been performing for longer than I have been alive and is the original pioneer voice of the concept accent known as Neutral, which I learned about here, it's not Aussie, US, UK or Singlish but somewhere in between all of that and universally respectable and powerful anywhere. He has performed in all those places, he was even in a Bruce lee movie, not sure if its just the bruce lee story though. He was mostly busy on the set and I didn't get to speak to him much, but his aura was amazing, think of him as the asian Morgan Freeman. I got to be the Zombie that grabs and spews blood on him!.
Here is a Photo of me topless with him, I had Zombie make up and really could not be bothered at the time to wash change properly without a shower in an abandoned school, I even hopped on to the cab topless and the cab driver was hesitant because he thought I was crazy gangster fresh and bloody from a fight.
Performance Rating 7/10
Not much to say since I don't remember, I held on to this entry to write it for halloween. This was the set that in the last entry I mentioned I agreed at 12am to do the Salesman cameo, call time 9am other side of Singapore.
Threaten to sell power Clean. at 17:26
I think it's also worth mentioning that on that set the director said that He has seen me before, when I asked when He said the Swensen's TVC, so my appearance is getting ahead of my flesh.
That Cameo is now Live on Xin MSN, Sadly my lines were stipped and it has become a silent montage :( Click image for link to video, It is a Malaysian show with splashes of english and I assume this works outside Singapore.
Also.. the DBS Lightsaber car insurance web Ad is out!
The above guy is writing this blog. Thanks for taking some time to read it.