Friday, June 29, 2007

Farmer's Life

"Here on my farm, every week is different, every day is a surprise. New faces in the fields, the birds say different things, and nothing repeats. Nature never repeats; this August evening has never been before and it will never be again."

Joey's mother, On The Farm

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Hero of the Day: Cheesy Studios

Twas reality as we know it: that nothing last forever. For the optimist, all that is bad ends, and for the pessimist, all that is good ends too.

Thus, the pessimist wins this round. With Monash moving to a new campus, Cheesy Studios is no more.

Cheesy Studios (sometimes referred to as Multimedia Lab, or M Lab for short) has been a creative hub of unrivalled success in my young career thus far. Small, at times messy and frustrating (figuring out which wire goes where and which plug to pull without shortcircuiting anything), it has nonetheless been a home away from home, a refuge for those who needs it. During my time there, tears have been shed, laughters have been rang, friends have been made, and ideas have been bounced.

Much of the credit must go to Dr Yeoh Seng Guan, our lecturer at Monash. He was one of the main driving forces for its existence to begin with. And during my time, the likes of me, Eddie, Wilson and especially Meng Yoe formed the core group of people, including me, that drove its continued bloom.

The facilities at the new campus will be that much better. The faculty will have cameras, lights, monitors and computers galore, as well as purpose built studios and editing suites. Students will literally have everything they can ever ask for to start making films. But there will only ever be one Cheesy Studios.

Rest in peace.

Cheesy Studios Filmography
Psycho: The Real Mystery
DVDiary Penang
Psycho 2: Mystery of the Predator
Cambodia for Christ
A Little Paradise: The Koay Jetty Dilemma
Irregular Instances of Madness
The Door
Budding Filmmakers (Radio and TV Journalism subject assignment)
Psycho 3: A Cross Cultural and Intergalactic Mystery
The Wife-less Guitarmen
A Quiet Delight
Police Story, MAN!
Takau 1.5
Operation Test How Keng
The Bookshop
Photo Superman

Transformers: Stop The Alien Glass That Moves
Transformers 2: It's Prime Time
Idiot Nation
Transformers 3: Til All Are One
TK 1.75
Idiot Generation

(source: my memory and Superratty Films)

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Lynette's Box

The scene: the M Lab. The players: me, Tan Meng Yoe, Lynette Goh, and Chien Aun. The scenario: Lynette laughing like a total maniac.

Lynette is one of my junior junior juniors (being three years behind me at university, I think. Though by definition, since I am no longer around when she started, I am not her senior senior senior). I don't know her very well, truth be told, with the exception of several exchanged jokes (she has demonstrated a high level of propensity for lameness. Which is good). In fact, I can list down the things that I do know about her right now:

  1. She's Chinese.

  2. She's Christian.

  3. She is Meng Yoe's new muse, having had roles in his last three films (most memorably as Hottie Harriot in Idiot Nation).

And that's it.

However, on that fateful day in the M Lab (popularly referred to as Cheesy Studios), I gained an insight into what makes her tick. In fact, it was more than an insight: it was as if the gates of Troy has opened and let loose a stream of Greeks into the city that is the world outside.

If, of course, if the gates of Troy is her mouth, and the stream of Greeks is a series of asthma attacks.

I was facing away from her, writing something on the computer. Meng Yoe, Chien and our star Lynette was behind. Meng Yoe being Meng Yoe, he was telling a joke or something like it. I wasn't sure what it was, and, truth be told, I wasn't sure what it was that was to follow either.

It started with a sharp intake of breath, almost like a knee jerk reaction to having choked on a piece of meat stuck in your oesophagus. It followed through, unlike the stuck meat, as if on repeat, a series of sudden shrieks and quick, heavy breathing.

I turned, preparing to face the hyena behind. Instead, I found Lynette having a hard time to breathe. Or at least it looks like it. It would have prompted a more serious reaction from me...had Meng Yoe and Chien not be laughing at the same time.

And then I cottoned on.

Is she laughing?” I asked, a question so obvious that the blind would've slapped me for not noticing. Didn't seem that obvious to me at that time, though, as she continued her laboured heaving.

Goodness,” I mentioned, moving in closer to look at her contorted face, her eyes squinted out of existence. “Girl, you're dangerous. One minute, I'd be telling you a lame joke, the next minute, the police would come and handcuff me for choking you to death.”

Unfortunately, I did not forsee the fact that this statement would actually make her laugh harder. Not that much harder, but enough for me to hold my hands up and proclaim my innocence.

Which, somehow, provoked more laughter and more guilt on my part.

I suppose this is a case of the proverbial box of Pandora being opened (and this is not at all a metaphor for Lynette's mouth) :>

Monday, June 04, 2007

A Long Time Ago

I made Goldfish. It was my first short film, and it is in Mandarin, of all the languages. It starred some of my juniors, with the likes of Eddie, Max, Mindy and Jer Huan all being one or two years behind me at university.

It also featured the skills of some of my peers, like Wilson, who, as a producer, made it so easy for me. There was no need for me to worry about getting permission to shoot on location at university, since he already organised it for me. Need someone to hold the mic? No problems there, Wilson Lee to the rescue!

I mention their names, and they were only a part of a greater group that brought the idea to life. And I mention this now, almost two years on from the production, because in my humble is not a very good film.

Don't get me wrong, I'm proud of it. Proud of what we had achieved within that particular period of time. The clock was ticking, mind you: exams and assignments were on the horizon, and the personal situations of some wasn't the best. Then again, I suppose things like that could always be better, but that would be another story. But pride was what I felt when we first screened it at university. It is what I still feel about the film.

I write of this now because recently, I saw it again. Dina wanted to watch the videos that I had made, and Goldfish was high on the list. It is, after all, the movie that got me a ticket to Korea in the first place. It was probably a year since the last time I popped the disc marked 'Goldfish DVD' into my laptop. The thing with me is, my head is constantly buzzing with ideas. Short film ideas. Feature film ideas. Potential music videos. Possible documentary concepts. They're always there, somewhere in the back of my mind, continuously playing on repeat until I apply the cure i.e. Go out and get it shot, edited, shown.

Hardly time nor occasion, then, to be looking back on the films that I did. Wondered how long it's been since Spielberg last saw Jaws.

So I saw it again with Dina recently. Having gone on record as saying that it is a terrible film, seeing it again evoked a different train of thought. Watching it again, listening to the dialogue (as if I understand it) and letting Bei Yan and Eddie's score get to me was...magic. Reading the subtitles to my own movie, I am even willing to change and say that it's not...all that bad. People have said to me that they liked it, and that it is a good short film. I never did truly believe that, since most of the people who have seen it were my friends.

Watching it again that day, on my laptop at Coffee Bean in Mont Kiara, with Dina on hand, it left me feeling that perhaps they're not all that wrong.

Better late than never.