Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Aspiring Film-makers, Actors and Screenplay Writers can start with this film. (even film marketers)

This film, in my personal opinion, encapsulates all the wonderful elements in film-making, acting and writing. Of course it's one of the most popular films in its genre. And there were so much talk and hype surrounding this film. But all is much deserving. Because I'm actor, naturally I am fascinated by Anthony Perkin's portrayal as Norman Bates. Observe his underlying madness beneath a cheerful appearance. Not to mention his body language and the way he "eats" like a bird". Janet Leigh's somewhat "brief" appearance in this film, is also commendable. Watch her transformation from being a helpless adulterer to a thief and finally ended up as the victim in the famous bathroom murder.

For those aspiring to be a film-maker, your eye for detail in this film can be further sharpened by a dozen visual cues to further exemplify a certain character and atmosphere. The mirror that often reflects the characters from the city is apparent in this film. Take note also how the colour of Janet's character wearing from a white to a black color bra, symbolising her transformation from pureness to evil after she decided to keep the bulk of money from her employer. Be amazed by even the very first opening shot to the composition of each frame, right to the cuts of each scene in this film (especially the bathroom murder scene).

For the aspiring screenplay writers, listen to brief and succint dialogue from each scene. I especially like the scene in the reception room when Norman were having a chit-chat with Marion and how so much emotions are expressed, in synch with the character's own motivation and objective. Observe also the many dead birds that were stuffed with sand and preservatives (taxidermists) in the reception room right before Marion's own fate that were killed off.

In marketing terms, "Pyscho" were made at a very low budget. But scored a huge profit when it hits the cinemas. I must say it's the clever shock-and-warning tactic used by Alred Hitchcok to induce some form of discipline. The warning of coming to the cinema early to catch the film was clearly emblazoned at all entrances, further digging the anticipated terror and curiosity about the film.

All in all, "Psycho" is a very well-rounded film, in that it has all the right elements that pulls together to a very clearly defined concept of a film. From the music to the lighting, it ultimately leads to terror to its audience. Aspiring artistes can take inspirations from watching this film and felt a somewhat strange satisfaction in being in the shadows of Norman and Marion. The sheer objectivity in each of the actor's performance is commendable and should be in fact be taken as an important lesson to all aspiring actors when they are reading their scripts. Below are some incriminating advice from the film director, Alfred Hitchcock to:
The film director: If it's a good movie, the sound could go off and the audience would still have a perfectly clear idea of what was going on.
The actor: When an actor comes to me and wants to discuss his character, I say, "It's in the script"/ If he says, "But what's my motivation?", I say, "Your salary".
The screenplay writer: I don't understand why we have to experiment with film. I think everything should be done on paper. A musician has to do it, a composer. He puts a lot of dots down and beautiful music comes out. And I think that students should be taught to visualize. That's the one thing missing in all this. The one thing that the student has got to do is to learn that there is a rectangle up there - a white rectangle in a theater - and it has to be filled.

PS: Students who wants a copy of Psycho, let me know when we meet.

Monday, January 26, 2009

How to be a Fear-Proof Artiste

In Malaysia, expect the most trivial thing to be a huge HUGE phenomena for others to poke you on. We are supposedly very cultural. So there must be NO revealing clothing for local artistes for the fear of being banned. But really, I started being famous for that one revealing part, even without me knowing it to be such a big deal! But I am thankful for it anyway. I suppose our entertainment industry aren't professional in many ways, and especially in the way of thinking, being NOT that "cultural". One painful incident encouraged me to write this article on the topic above. I just completed a shoot for a Singapore commercial, and was packing my stuff to go home. The casting agent was interestingly irritable, for he asked me all sorts of incriminating questions like sex and other questions in that vein. Excuse me, when does that has to do how well I can perform as a talent? Besides, it's not the talent agent who selected me for the job, it's the client. So talents, bear that in mind, and remember you don't owe this agent a thing or even have to justify yourself for them. After that, that silly casting agent "threatened" me that he will reduce my talent fees (as if I give a farthing, after his questionable attitude), so as to impose some form of "fear". After the shoot was completed, I walked down through some steps, which was strewn all over with camera and lighting wires, and got my angle twisted in the most painful way imaginable. And that was 2 days before Chinese New Year! So you see guys, our entertainment industry is very much revolved in this fear factor, inducing fear and extracting results from fear. And believe me, NO results extracted from fear and punishment is ever good.

I'm compelled again to write this article as a form of salutation to all working artistes in Malaysia who have to endure so many types of unnecessary "fear" and trouble. We have to be constantly fearful of our attitude and behavior offscreen for the producers can translate that as what will be onscreen. Can they tell the difference between onscreen and offscreen? I'm afraid not. They will see a talent and typecast him or her as being attitude A, and will treat the talent as such. So how to be a fear-proof artiste? As you know this article is meant to HELP, not to condemn other people. And hopefully below are some tips that could help:

* Be NEUTRAL in all circumstances. That means if a casting agent or producer expressed they are excited to have you, try to be cordial and at the same time give them a benefit of a doubt that they might not see you the way you want them to. Or promised you the job at the end. It also means you need to delete any preconceived ideas or judgements, prejudices you might have on the other party.
* Take your TIME to grow as an artiste, and don't rush to be one. It takes more than just good looks and talents to secure a job. Take one small job at a time, and grow from there. A beautiful tree doesn't just happen over a day.
* Be GOOD to yourself and other people. It is not about getting ahead in the industry. There is NO such thing. It is about being absolutely professional in your way of thinking and attitude. If you say bad things about other artistes, the words eventually comes back to haunt you. If you're good to yourself and other people, why should you be fearful of how others may treat you? Being good to yourself here means believing in your own capabilities, the willingness to learn and have an open-mind, staying positive and energised.

The opposite of fear is COURAGE. Therefore, when there is courage, nothing is impossible to achieve. Let your mind be expanded to the possibilities, even your current state as an artiste is left much to be desired. Hey, it's your attitude that will take you far. I am only speaking from experience and sharing these tips. I've seen so much fear in my fellow colleagues, and feel they are fearing for nothing. Please be brave in whatever your endeavour. Others may spit at your effort and condemn you for being who you are. But that's who you are! And who you are is what makes you stand out from the rest. Sometimes we need some form of lesson or artiste training course to lead us in the right courageous direction. If got the chance to learn, take it. Your learning further solidifies your courage and fear-proof your artiste potential.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Why do we say one thing, but do the other?

Now we all suffered this tendency once awhile to say one thing but do the other. In my lifetime, believe me, I've encountered my fair share of such people in the entertainment industry. There are a few casting agencies who promised you jobs, but in the end you have to buck up and claim the job for yourself. Even then, the guarantee of a job is not there. Even film directors change their minds often, and say one thing but do the other. So how does us poor artistes are able to stand for our rights? If you cannot hold onto the words of such "respected industry leaders", who else can we turn to? Can you fight back to these people and force them to do what they said? For new artistes, I pray for you to be wiser. When you achieve a bit of success, please do not rest on your laurels. Because the "say one thing but do the other" (SOT-BD-TO) mental disease is prevalent everywhere, and not just in the entertainment industry.

The recent massacre in Gaza, left many Malaysians shocked. It may make us realize how peaceful our country may be, but the perceived peace and freedom is not really comprehendable by everyone. There are many Malaysians who has the SOT-BD-TO mentality. And can we blame them for having such mentality? If the leaders are like that, the followers will do just the same. Isn't the world a better place if we DO exactly what we SAY? When we condemned the war in Gaza, have we not been guilty in endorsing American products and used them? If I read an article from any advertising executive condemning the war in Gaza, then he or she better know that there is the power to DO MORE than just posting ugly pictures of the war.

If only we DO what we SAY, people will believe us more. People will know you are dependable to execute what you promised. If only more Malaysian politicians do that. Normal middle-class civillians working hard, will know their hard work will not go to waste and be recognised for their effort. If only more Malaysian film directors and producers do that. Artistes are able to sleep restfully at night without the worry of where their next job income will be. Or resort to "evil" ways to get what they want. How can you blame artistes being like that? Nobody wants to be "evil" unless forced to. I dare tell you the recent newscaster and actress caught in the new year sex party fell prey to the SOT-BD-TO syndrome.

If only YOU and ME can start right NOW to DO what we SAY. I dare promised you that world peace, political, social and economic stability is achievable when we ALL do what we say. Start practising that now. Do exactly what you say you will do. Simple as that. No need to harp on cheap sentimentalities or pretends to have favourites in the industry. That is all rooted deeply in insecurities and fear. Doing exactly what you say projects your true strength and courage. It yields transparency and honesty, not fear. Everybody will then really and TRULY respects for who YOU ARE and not for your position or credentials. That, my friends, is true respect.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Help Stop Violence in Gaza

The new year is one where all are making joy and celebration. But not the case in Gaza. Innocent children are sacrificed in the war. Such happenings make us thankful that we are living in peaceful Malaysia. I know some of you could help in a big way. Even a small gesture like calling Mercy Malaysia and offer your help, also helps. For those who are big on the pockets (I know who you are), please make cheques payable to MERCY MALAYSIA. CIMB account number: 1424-000-6561053.For more information, please contact 03-2273 3999.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Year Resolution: To become Super Boy

This is a bit crazy for New Year resolution, but secretly I wanted to be a Super Boy since I were a child. When I was younger, I always thought I can do what the superheroes did in the comic books. When evil comes, good always triumph. When they're in any sticky situation or near death, superheroes alway manage to overcome all obstacles. It is with this strong resilience, that I am so drawn to the superheroes species.

They also possess 2 kinds of identities. Hmmm, only this characteristic that I find to be unnecessary, because if I were a superhero, I will be myself anywhere I go, anytime, no need to hide. Be true to yourself, correct guys? One living example is my yellow shorts. Heck, do you see me wearing a mask when I did that dance? There...proud to be a superhero I am.

Now lies one sticky problem. Where do I start in becoming a superhero. There are so many of them in the universe already! I can't be competing with them, and fight them? Well, knowing that I'm already a "superhero" myself, I can only pick one superhero closest to my ranking, and that is definitely Super Boy. If I were Super Boy, I would use my:

SUPER-POWER HEARING: to really hear what other people are saying about me, all the good and bad.
SUPER-POWER STRENGTH: to build a house inexpensively with my bare hands, minus the construction and lifting costs, for the homeless.
SUPER-POWER SPEED: to deliver mails and packages, by charging a fee to be channeled into maintaining the home for the homeless.
SUPER-POWER SIGHT: to see what other people are doing secretly in their own rooms, so I can create real-life stories for my future films.

And lastly, I will add another element in my superhero suit that I believe NO other superheroes in the universe have: my SUPER-POWER LOVE, to eradicate all hate power channelled to me and turn it into love. This power is harder to pull off though, since I am not all perfect, and needs love as well. But one thing I learned: when I give love to others, love eventually comes back to me. Gosh, that's the most amazing feeling above any other superpowers even a non-superhero can get! And that's a comfort to learn, because nobody can be a superhero all the time.