So after preparing for the shoot day itself, here’s what happened when we actually shot Raffles v Utama: Dawn of Singapore for the GV25 Film Shorts Competition for Golden Village!
An aside about the title
If you’re wondering why all my posts about the GV25 Film Shorts Competition sound like the titles of anime episodes, it’s intentional. I know that this titling style doesn’t work quite as well in English as it does in Japanese, but I wanted to give it a shot. The last time I wrote titles that sounded like anime episodes was when I wrote a serialised short story in secondary school.
And yes, this is a two-parter because there were two days of shoot.
Shoots rarely go as planned
Whenever you read about how a production is going (or at least, the articles I’ve read), they always talk about how wonderfully and smoothly it all went. Which isn’t impossible, but as far as I know, it’s incredibly rare. Everything that can go wrong will go wrong, and it’s rarely the one-take wonder that’s frequently depicted.
So, well, this isn’t the usual preppy and happy kind of post you’d be expecting, since people rarely talk about how they went wrong. But I thought it’d be more informative to write about what I could have done better, so that others can learn from it.
As you might have deduced, the first day didn’t go as planned, and there were so many things I would have done different if I could (which we managed to on the second day of shoot!).
Working more hours than a bak kwa seller during Chinese New Year
For the record, these were 12+ hour shoot days, so I could only really do it during the weekends. I’m very very thankful that my cast and crew went through it all, because each shoot day was literally more than half a day. I guess it didn’t feel that way because we shot that night, but I think it’d be really, really obvious if it all happened during the day.
And of course, adding setup time and cleaning up just added more hours to the amount of time spent on it, because we shot at, Joyous Learning, a real tuition centre that had classes before and after our shoot (meaning we couldn’t leave our set as is and come back to it another day, we had to redecorate it before and after). But luckily, everyone was ready for the gruelling hours. I think.
I think someone asked if Joyous Learning was a fictitious setting. Thanks for thinking so highly of the set design! But no budget to mock up such a huge set haha.
Yeah we ate McDonald’s for meals and I know this is terrible since fast food isn’t the best thing to be eating on set.
But luckily everyone likes McDonald’s.
A late start
We started late on the first day. 🙁
We started about two hours after the time we were scheduled to shoot the first scene, as there was another media crew who came down to take behind-the-scenes shots and interviews. They gave the impression it would be a quick one, and I was told only the day before that they’d be coming down, so we didn’t have factor in the time they would need for what they wanted to shoot.
Our call sheet (which is basically the schedule with all the logistical details included, such as the people required, props needed) (put together by my producer Charmaine) had a lot of buffer time factored in, so fortunately this helped mitigate the delay a little. But still, would have liked to budget time if I could!
Not being familiar with camera equipment
I also wasn’t terribly knowledgeable about how the camera worked, and based it off my last experience behind the camera (which was about 5-6 years ago, and this was on a DSLR) and assumed certain workflows.
You know how they say “assumption is the mother of all mess ups”? This is, of course, a heavily sanitised version of the the quote.
Anyway, it’s true. I hadn’t realised (or accounted) for how it would work, so this also increased the time we needed to shoot each in. I should have spent more time learning how it all worked rather than feeling emo during our prep.
We shot much less than what we planned
To absolutely nobody’s surprise, we had a lot less footage than required after the first day of shoot. And after Lee Yan (my video editor) put together the scenes from the first day, she told me that I was missing several shots.
Which means that the second day of shoot would be critical to the success (and completion) of Raffles v Utama: Dawn of Singapore.
I’ll leave you on a cliffhanger but I think it’s pretty obvious that we made up for it on the second day la – in no small part thanks to my cast and crew who really pia-ed on the second day.
To be continued!
Production team behind Raffles v Utama: Dawn of Singapore (Part 2 of 3)
So here’s the second part of my crew introductions!
First Assistant Director: Jovis
Jovis made sure that most of the shoot would run smoothly and that everyone was prepared for the next take, so that I could focus on the monitor and the directing. She also logged the shots on the first day, and was literally by my side all the time when the cameras were rolling (and when they weren’t).
Second Assistant Director: Kai
Kai came around on the second day of shoot, and she logged the shots on the second day. She also watched out for any issues or potential challenges that some shots would face during editing, serving as a second pair of eyes artistically. Of course, there were many more eyes on the many other things too.
Production Assistant: Wilson
Wilson offered to help out and be our runner, slate for us and be the extra pair of hands that every production needs. Okay, I won’t say extra – you can never have too much help on set. He’s kind of tall but he managed to compress himself out of sight during shoot, so props for his flexibility haha.
Chuanlin was the first stylist I approached, and she brought Hanjing and Juliana on board the project too. The actors are mostly pretty young, but some of them had to look much older than they really were – so our makeup artists worked pretty diligently (even asking for an extra set of lights so that they could check the makeup colours looked right on camera). And it paid off! Especially for our secret character, heh.
And my hashtag is #RafflesVUtama if you want to check it out on Instagram!
I’m a Singapore television scriptwriter who’s written for Crimewatch, Police & Thief, Incredible Tales, and Point of Entry. I’m also a Transformers enthusiast and avid pop culture scholar. You can find me on social media as Optimarcus and on my site.
Send me an email if you want to get in touch!