Singapore totally loves filming docu-dramas. It’s probably because we like our dramas to imitate real-life, and what better way than to do film something that was inspired by true events?
Couple that with our liking to watch cop shows (Crime Watch, Crime Confidential, etc) and it’s no wonder there’s always a crime show to be filmed.
Exposed is another docu-drama, inspired by real-life crime events in Singapore.
Vertigo Pictures filmed Season 2, and I auditioned and won the part of a scammer’s friend in Episode 5: Dot Coms On Dot Com. As the name suggests, it was a blogshop scam.
Here’s some behind the scene snaps of what went on. If you want to watch the full episode, it’s available at the end.
My character was named Gek Choo, which I’d like to imagine is a tribute to the late Geok Choo, Lee Kuan Yew’s wife. Although the truth is it’s probably just a variation of the name of the real person.
The first scene we shot was on the railway tracks. I’d actually just got off working with Sheryl (lead character Kyra) from another production so it was awesome to see her again.
Pretending to look all professional with our soundman/cameraman/director roles respectively. Me, Christine and Sheryl.
Real soundman gets a boom microphone, because he actually really is doing the sound. Fake soundman doesn’t get one because all I have to do is pretend to turn the knobs when the cameras roll.
(Check out those pajama pants, by the way)
Lead character Sheryl with the real production team capturing her every move.
The girls! The production team called us Chio Bu (Hokkien slang for pretty girl) numbers 1 to 4, because they kept mixing up our real and onscreen names. I was Chio Bu number 3 HAHA.
And when I worked with Danny the cameraman for the second time in another production a few months later, the only thing that jogged his memory was “Oh the four chio bus? Okay now I remember which episode you were in” HAHAHA.
The second day of shooting was much more rigorous. We were sitting down most of the time, but it also meant a lot of dialogue to memorize. We also had the temptation of coffee sitting in front of us even though we couldn’t drink it till the end of the day!
(Also, I have no idea where that plant in the picture came from, so I’m pretty sure that’s an app. This wasn’t taken with my phone.)
Ahh, that gorgeous coffee macro-shot.
And that PSI HAHAHAHA (if you’re not familiar with what PSI is, it’s the Pollutant Standards Index, which is monitored on free-to-air television channels whenever the air pollution rises above the ordinary safe levels. It usually happens when there’s haze from Indonesia’s annual forest fires. Clearly, this episode aired during that time)
The apple logo on the MacBook had to be covered up so that the company wouldn’t run into logo/trademark copyright law problems. The same was done for the “MacBook” logo below the screen when they shot close-up shots of the laptop.
Chio Bu 1, 2 and 3! You can decide for yourself which girl to assign to what number.
All those notebooks and miscellaneous papers had our scripts written down, by the way. How convenient!
That eyebrow raise. Blink and you’ll miss it.
“Let’s do a super wide shot”
My character talks about Akira Kurosawa’s masterpiece Rashomon, and the script ends with me ad-libbing the rest of the scene, so I looked up the movie just so that I knew what I’d be talking about, instead of jabbering randomly like an idiot.
And Kurosawa’s entire movie is actually available online! Rashomon is a slow movie though, but then again we are so used to fast-paced movies that we simply can’t sit through a slow one without wanting to press fast-forward.
Digressing, the movie actually spawned the Rashomon Effect whereby the same event is recounted by different people, and they all have differing interpretations. It’s like an event where someone gets murdered, and the witnesses all have different accounts of what they saw.
Anyway! Back to the show.
We moved out to Arab Street after that for a bit of outdoor shots. Director Mark Pestana is on the right. He’s an award-winning director of a documentary called Almost Famous: Close-Up of the Kathoeys in the World Television Award 2011. He was also quite involved in several Channel NewsAsia (Singapore) productions as a writer and producer.
This was my favourite bit out of the entire shooting. They’d decided to get an over-the-shoulder shot of the character moving, so they took out all the tripods and went handheld.
And then they had to move as one singular unit so that everything would sync with each other (the sound wouldn’t fade in and out, the lighting would look constant on the actors’ faces). It’s like the soldiers in 300 working together as a single unit (without the shields and swords. Well, they do say that a camera is a weapon?)
That’s a wrap! Sort of.
Day 3 of shooting consisted of sit-down scenes again. I actually found it really hard because they wanted us to adhere strongly to the script. It depends from production to production.
Some companies have no script at all and want you to ad-lib some lines.
Some companies have a script but make leeway if you decide to change some words (as long as it makes sense and seems natural).
And some companies want you to read the script line for line (it’s not a bad thing, but the pressure is definitely on to get everything right).
I was really impressed with Christine, the other actor, in this scene. She had to be distant and incredibly upset (in the storyline, her character gets scammed) and she managed to squeeze out a couple of tears.
She taught me her technique after that, but I don’t think I can pull it off.
And that’s a real wrap!
I was quite pleased with the final product, because it’s one of the times I personally feel I’m more natural when spouting my lines. Sometimes, especially during my earlier projects, I felt liked I looked really uncomfortable on screen.
Enjoy the show! Let me know if you liked it!
– Fari Wu