So the day before the shoot for Raffles v Utama: Dawn of Singapore (for the GV25 Film Shorts Competition), we went to collect all the equipment. By we, I mean Adrian (sound recordist), who was kind enough to help me lug plenty of poles (some of which I do not really know the use of) and other equipment. There were so many batches of equipment.
I had to go down earlier to collect lights, monitor, and sound equipment from Aputure, but fortunately Alan Photo brought over the camera lenses (maybe he was worried I would drop them) (I did not drop them, guys, have some faith in me). I was dreading returning it, because while I borrowed the equipment over the course of a few days, I think I had to return most of it in quite a short time span after the shoot. Including the aforementioned poles.
I whined in one of my chat group’s about how much equipment there was to carry, to which Charmaine’s (producer) reply was “You long time never do production alr hahaha!”
More is better than less
But the reason we had so much equipment was because Charmaine (producer) and Jian Hui (director of photography) really went all out sourcing for equipment for the shoot. I’m not great with the technical details so I’m very grateful that they knew exactly what to get and had all our bases covered.
Since we were shooting overnight, if we lacked any type of equipment (lights or… one of the aforementioned poles) it’d be pretty tough, since production equipment isn’t the sort of thing you can go out and get in the middle of the night.
So despite my whining, I’m grateful we had more equipment rather than less.
I learnt that the boom mike’s wind shield was called a “dead cat”. I hoped I could hide my surprise because when the folk at Aputure said “dead cat” I thought I’d see some cat-themed equipment.
Then I saw the limp, furry shape of the wind shield and mentally went “ooohhhhhhh”.
I swear, I had not heard that term before.
And yeah lah, after a while I started to remember and learn and call all the equipment by the right names. I think I do know what the poles are called now, but please do not test me.
Let there be light
Yes that gigantic light (I think it is called a light dome) lit up everything. And it was pretty hardy. I say that because I’m still plagued by memories of how fragile lights were (when they used lightbulbs) and how you had to wait for them to cool down before you could store them, otherwise the bulbs would blow.
Not really being a production person, I haven’t actually kept up with lighting tech so I was like “ohhhhhh”.
We had so many props for the shoot, mainly because yours truly is very picky about such things, and the feedback from Tree Potatoes was to include more physical humour. So I tried to avoid slapstick and went with fun/interesting props on the shoot itself.
Yes, there is a Transformer in the short film. No, I’m not telling you where it turns up. Heh.
But I will buy you a drink if you spot it, screenshot it and send it to me.
Everyone was early
Everyone was early and this really helped because I think I was incredibly nervous.
And I could not have gotten a more enthusiastic crew because everyone was really just prepping and setting up as much as possible while, er, I attended to some behind-the-scenes matters and went through the shot list again and again.
But I was really a bundle of nerves
I felt damn nervous and unprepared since, well, I didn’t really know if it would turn out the way I visualised it.
Being a writer, I often visualise how a scene would play out in a completely different way from how the final product ends up. Sometimes I watch episodes I’ve written and I go “oh I didn’t think it would play out that way” and it turns out for the best.
This time, though, I would be writing and directing it, so there wouldn’t be an alternative way of interpreting it, besides my own.
And here we go!
And so with everything set up, we went into the first day of shoot.
Production team behind Raffles v Utama: Dawn of Singapore (Part 1 of 3)
I’ll be breaking this up over three posts, mainly in chronological order of their role in the production process. I’m very very grateful for everyone’s help, especially since everybody did their utmost to help me fulfil my vision of a Uniquely Singapore comedy.
Charmaine really pulled everything together for me, from scheduling to casting to equipment to logistics, so that I could focus on the more creative aspects (writing and directing). I really and genuinely do not know how I would have even begun (maybe I’d just have bought an iPhone and shot on it) (no, I’m kidding!) if she hadn’t been on board.
Sharon took care of my costumes and cast, and kept me sane for most of the shoot especially since I was constantly worrying about the time. Although both my producers had never met before (well I think they technically did once, but that’s another tale for another time), they worked together very well.
Director of Photography: Jian Hui
In contrast to my constant state of nervousness, Jian Hui was damn cool and chill as DP/DOP (I prefer the DOP acronym because I don’t want the word “of” to be left out). He always gave me the shots I wanted, regardless of the (often) impossible angles I would ask for.
Sound Recordist: Adrian
Adrian was my sound guy and he was always contorting and getting into weird positions along with Desmond (who took sound too and did my graphics and animation), and most importantly, he let me shoot at Joyous Learning. I’m quite glad that they’re both pretty fit guys because their arms would have fallen off by now if they weren’t.
And in my next post, I’ll finally share what happened on the shoot days (as well as introducing the rest of the crew)!
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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!