Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Kim Ping Pong

Tuk, tuk, tuk, tuk.

Twas the sound of the ping pong ball as it bounces its way around the table. I am watching Pele and Damon take one each other in a game of ping pong. They have a distinctive style, both of them. Pele has a more chaiyenyen (easy going) approach, while Damon, being the Taiwanese born and bred that he is, displaying more style and panache than the rest of the group put together. Having said that, they're not really playing, just pinging the pong around.

And I'm not really interested in their styles either, for now.

"You know," I turn to my coordinator, Mr Seo, "there's something relaxing about the sound of the ping pong ball going tuk tuk." He merely nodded his agreement.

And as I watch them play, the thought crossed my mind that perhaps they're playing for the sound too.

Tuk tuk.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Forever and Eva

Ladies and gentleman...

...I'm in love.


I knew of Eva Green before, and I think she is quite attractive. But there was one scene in Casino Royale (the bathroom scene, when she and James Bond were giving each giving the other their dinner suits), and she wasn't wearing much, if any make up at all. I felt that I was seeing her for the first time, her beauty lighting the screen with such magnificent radiance.

And she took my breath away.

*I've been looking for a still of that scene, but I couldn't find it. So for now, this is the best no make-up substitute from the film. Thanks Shu :>

Sunday, December 24, 2006


As a SWAT team closes in on the building, one of the baddies warned his comrades:

"All right, listen up guys. 'Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, except for the four assholes coming in the rear in standard two-by-two cover formation."

Theo, Die Hard.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Director's Cut

You are driven.

Driven by a passion, a love, a desire so strong that it overrides each and every one of your senses. Your mind spins endlessly, twisting and turning each and every single possibility, leading to the agony in your heart, and the darkness that lies just beyond the reach of your vision.

I lie in bed, and I wonder.

It's deep into the early morning. In a short time, the sun will rise, marking the beginning of a new day, the beginning of one which will make a difference. A big or a small one. But a difference nonetheless.

I lie in bed, and I wonder.

I have been going full tilt for the past few days, finalising the preparations for my film. And, if it is possible, that tilt will be even fuller as I strive to make the film itself. A four-day shooting schedule has been finalised, the actors has been confirmed, the camera is ready to practically rock and roll.

And yet here I am, at almost 6 in the morning...and I wonder.

I wonder about the decisions I've made. I wonder about the angles I've taken, whether it correctly portrays that I intend to capture within each frozen moment of the film, flashing past the audience's eyes in a millisecond. I think of the actors, about their level of comfort with their roles, and wonder how much more detailed the storyboard could be. A little more time, perhaps.

A little more time.

I wonder if the other filmmakers go through this....this...sleepless, restless, life-draining existence. If Steven Spielberg agonises over every single detail in this way, or if he spends the night before a shoot watching the Seven Samurai, The Searchers, Lawrence of Arabia and It's A Wonderful Life, a list of films he apparently watches before every film he makes.

I think of Ang Lee, the guy who broke barriers to make Brokeback Mountain. Watch his visual excellence, then marvel at "he who never storyboards any of his films", including the visually laden special effects underrator that is The Hulk.

I think of Wong Kar Kai, who only outlines his movies, rather than script them properly. A process that Zhang Ziyi has described as "delightful" when working with the man on 2046, but a process that would have crucified me if I had tried to go into a film in the same way.

I wonder if he, if they, ever wonder of their ways. If they ever wonder at all. Or whether they step into the set on that first day, confident and poised that their every shot, their every thought, their every action, their drive and their passion is there for everyone to see.

I go into this film with almost 6 hours of sleep in almost three days. A most unhealthy of approaches. But it's OK.

I'm driven. Driven by a passion and desire that burns in my lungs, seeping through every single pore of my existence, to make this film to the best of my abilities. I have found my spark, the zenith of my existence, that which others have found, and I intend for it to burn me through.

For it is this spark, this fire that drives each and every one of us to do what we do. To push us through the dark hours, to break down that wall in our way, to force the strength in our veins when our minds, our body, our spirit tells us: "No more."

Our heart, our passion...drives us.

Driven, I tell you.

And after that...I...we...

...shall wonder no more.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Letters from Namyangju

It's a strange feeling, a strange place to be in.

I'm here in the mountains of Korea, at Namyangju Studios, at one of the most well equipped film complexes this side of Kim Jong Il's nuclear weapons. It's some hours away from Seoul, which means that it's even more hours away from Jeonju.

The winter bites hard here. It has begun snowing, albeit in flakes and flicks rather than hailstorms and apocalyptic proportions that no one predicted. No one but those from tropical countries anyway. We all went out and savoured that moment for a bit. Whooping delights rang through the mountain air, escaping our thoughts faster than the misty breathes inside.

So I am here. We are all here, to edit our respective short films. Much drama, much tragedy, and much sacrifice has been made in order for us to be here, to cut our films into pieces before slowly knitting them together again. The hands move, the fingers tap, the mouses click.

And once in a while, Damon would shout out. Or, perhaps more accurately, he would shriek. "AARGH, ARGHH!!"

In my head, one (crow) flew above the cuckoos nest.

I am here, amongst all of this...and I can't edit. In the parlance of the Mr Writers of the world, the juices run dry, the brain is shut, the inspiration is no more.

In the parlance of this particular thinker...what the fuck am I doing here?

But alas, this post was never intended to rant, or to rave. Not yet, anyway.

This post is meant to recognise, and to respect. To remember.

I no longer read. Not like I used to. I had often used books as a tool in the past to relax. Sometimes to escape, yes. I can't escape that particular accusation, though I wonder of who could. But mainly it is to immerse myself in worlds unimaginable otherwise, to delve into the psyche of characters so twisted, so diverse and colourful that I am no longer myself.

I am Frodo, as he struggled with all his might to reach the volcano bit in 'Lord of the Rings' to destroy it. I am...

...struggling to remember my favourite characters. With the aside from Jacen from Star Wars. No one jumps to mind right now. No one.

The point being, I read a letter from my friend before I came here. She had written it prior to my departure, prior to my new found life as one of the five filmmakers selected for the Asian Young Filmmakers program. A boost to the ego, this, or a sham of magnificent proportions?

She had written of something about beans. About leaving it behind in class in science experiments over the weekend, before coming in the next week and marvelling at their exorbitant growth rates. A strand only, perhaps, but a wonder to marvel at when you are all of ten years young in the world.

She had written of a particular nice discussion we had over her birthday dinner. Relatively quiet Italian restaurant, brilliant (and expensive) food, beautiful girl to look at and to get to know...and I was talking about Star Wars.

Or more specifically, about Jacen. Jacen Solo, the son of Han and Princess Leia. I talked about Anakin. I talked about a lot more, but these were the two mentioned in her letter to me.

For the life of me, I can't remember what the exact wordings were. One wonders whether one would be able to remember it should one remain with one's derriere stuck in this pallid existence (is it pallid or palid?) of a conference hall. To the left, a stage used for presentations that this place was built for. To the right, a small ping pong table set up to aleviate our boredom.

You'd think that being on the final stretch of a journey tempered with difficulty, and with much love...we'd be raring to go. Raring to stitch together the pieces that we had lovingly crafted in our dreams, further refined in our living daylights, and painstakingly mastered in reality. But no. I can't edit.

I've no juices left. And I'm getting off tangent.

"The discussion about Jacen, about his philosophies and yours, was interesting and complex," was probably how the letter went halfway through. "I want to take you home and we can cuddle together and make out until you have an erection and then we can make sweet love" is most definitely how it did not go.

That much I remember.

I had forgotten the delights of escaping, of immersing, of revelling the joys of being another character. I remember that night clearly, carefully breaking down and reconstructing his finer points and flaws. I had known this character inside out, much like I had known others from other books. None had influenced me as much as Jacen.

There were none that I had wanted to become more like than Jacen. Feel free to correct me on that particular sentence structure...but I had forgotten how to become. I had forgotten how to take a step back, and to look at my films, my videos, my life and my friends in a different light, as another character.

As someone who is not me.

I had forgotten to look at the falling snow on the mountain, and not thank my motherfucking lucky stars. They hadn't shone much as of late. They hadn't shone at all, but now, at 6:20am, I don't need them to shine.

I need to shine.

To look at the can of Gatorade next to the monitor and not think, "If I take a sip now, it's going to cost me another 800 won to buy a new can."

To go outside, cold as it bitingly is, and see the flakes once again fall on my nose. My hair, my head, my heart. For it to cool the fires stoked inside.

To read a book, and once again become order I could become me as a whole. More of a whole.

And to plant a bean in a dark room, leave it over the weekend, and then come in...and marvel once more at the magic of life.