Sunday, February 06, 2011

“It’s A Great Great World” - from the Director’s Chair (By Peter Chan)

I was the director for the stage-play of That Girl Is a Woman Now during my schoolboy era. The play won us the 1970 Best Supporting Actor Award. Between then and now, it’s been decades, so stepping back into the world of theatres was a thrill except this time it was for the movies. I didn’t hesitate to seize the opportunity when I was invited to the outdoor set of Great World. I now recognize a big difference between stage-play and film production.

Film production is a lengthy process and beside the production crew and the acting cast, there is another important aspect involved; the video and the audio parts which are recorded on different equipment.

Photo 1: Some of the faithfuls who made it to the gala premier

A video camera records the action and the tape recorder records the dialogue; simple as that right? Well on paper that is but there is an important tool required, called the clapper. The clapper is meant to give a "start mark" for the film editor in the cutting room to synchronize the video and audio segments. With present advanced technology, the audio is “built-in” the camera and if you see the
m use the clapper, it is for identification purpose only. Even when they use a separate tape recorder, they now rely on the time code which is embedded on both audio and video.
When a shot is to be taken the film director call outs "CAMERA" and both cameraman and soundman switched on their equipment with the cameraman acknowledging by shouting back "RUNNING". Then the Clapper Boy flashed out the clapper board in front of the camera and shouts "SCENE 14, SHOT 6, TAKE 3", slams the clapper stick to the board and then moves out of the way.

Photo 2: My friend Salleh who has four decades of professional movie camera experience since the days of Cathay-Keris Studio explained that nowadays with digital cameras, “Rolls” have been replaced by memory cards. You see “Cards” instead.

During the film editing, the editor looks for the frame where the scissor-like clapper stick makes contact with the board. On the audio tape he looks-out for the loud "thud" sound. Once he aligned these, the lip movement for the entire take will be in sync. Can you imagine watching a movie when proper synchronization is not made? It’s like you punch someone on the jaw; he screams 5 seconds before the punch.
Photo 3: Me a cinema addict? Some cinema tickets from Globe Cinema, Great World (c 1959, 1960, 1961).

"SCENE 14, SHOT 6" is found in the script. It means that for a particular scene, 6 shots are taken from different directions. The "TAKE" indicates can vary because the film director might want a few repeat shots of the same scene and shot until he is fully satisfied. So the last take will usually be the one to be used in the final movie.
Here are some interesting behind-the-scene situations during the filming of the Great World.
Photo 4: Left to Right - Some of the cast members take a break. Do you remember that lady in red polka-dot frock? Prop crew fixing the red banner to welcome Elizabeth Taylor; Camera Director is seated on the tulip which can swing and elevate in different directions.
I have not seen the movie but it shall be soon. My grand auntie who is hitting 100 this June wants to see it too because two stories remind her so much of Great World – Wing Choon Yuen Restaurant and the Flamingo Nightclub. I asked Yee Por during this Chinese Lunar New Year visitation why Wing Choon Yuen? Here comes another story as she related the night the Japanese dropped bombs on Singapore and the air raid siren came on. “Have you heard about your Por Por’s Hung Pao Kai (literal translation to be Air-raid chicken dish)?” I moved over to the sofa and was soon “transported” back to Dec 7, 1941.

Note: Words in italics have to be pronounced the Cantonese way.


Icemoon said...

I wonder, could Hung Pao Kai be 轰炮鸡?

Lam Chun See said...

I enjoyed the show. Not becos of the nostalgia element. I didn't feel nostalgic from seeing those games and props etc. Maybe becos I have been blogging about these things and had become 'immuned'.

I just thot it was a well-produced show and the actors did a very good job. I think it is better than most of Jack Neo's movies. I was afraid it would be like the 881which I thought was really silly.

Only actress which I thot was a poor choice was Nancy Sit. Older audience who look at her will automatically picture a young A-go-go starlet. She is too Hong Kong to play a Singaporean who grew up in Great World - unless her character was a Hong Kongese which I might have missed.

Lam Chun See said...

Friends. Can you all remember the name of the crayon-like pencil that the cinema ticket seller used to write the seat number. It's like the one we used to write on the plastic case of our topo maps in the army. Just forgot the name.

JTeam said...

great great world is suck big time. too localise which cannot make it to anywhere except within caldecott only.

the actors also sucks big time.

nancy sit was a good actress which is a good mix and all tv actors should learn from movie actress.

the movie is too tv oriented which too much publicity but big dissapointment.

great great world is nothing compare to Jack Neo movies. mediacorp movies still have much to learn from Jack Neo movies.

i predict this movie cant even gross the blockbuster like Jack Neo movie did.

simply waste of time watching it. well, only the final part of the movie was nice about where Marcus Chin was. sense of humour which maybe pick up from JTeam acting stint.

peter said...

chun see
does "chinagraph" rings a bell?

Andrew said...

Watched the movie, loved it. The addition of dialect, local slangs and limericks tickled me so much. Pok-chui! Pok-chui! hahaha

Peter had a chance to visit the set, nice! :)

Anonymous said...

I think that is right bout that. Nice info and thanks. Need to get in google feed.

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