My Experience as An Extra in Blue Tears

The Audition for “Blue Tears”

It was my husband who first informed me about the audition. I could not believe my ears as this phenomena doesn’t happen too often in my hometown. The audition took place sometime in October last year (2016). I heard the project is a collaboration between local government and China; the film is an online movie targeted at the audience in China, it aims to promote Miri and its surroundings. The company responsible for this project is Global China Film (M) Sdn. Bhd.

Audition took place in Meritz Hotel

The audition was held inside one of Meritz Hotel‘s function rooms. I waited patiently for four (4) hours before my turn to ascend the stage and performed a short role play as per the film director’s request. My husband accompanied me for awhile before leaving for another program.

Saw Some Familiar Faces

At the casting call, I encountered some familiar faces (mostly Mirians). I know a couple of them have talents in performing arts; one candidate – Bong Cheng Tzuu, had some acting experiences (in West Malaysia, like myself – except, I wasn’t doing stunts like he did). I’m pretty impressed by his résumé. I won’t be surprised if he and his friends are selected out of the many hopefuls. Another candidate, Allister Wee often entertained friends with his self-recorded comedy sketches on Facebook. They have interesting personalities and charisma to match their talents.

Pictured below: On the extreme left is Bong Cheng Tzuu. Second from the right is Allister Wee, and Jonathan Loh (extreme right).

familiar faces in Miri going for audition

I saw a sweet middle-aged couple accompanied their beautiful daughter; while watching his daughter filling the audition form, the father suddenly became interested to try his luck in the audition too. I overheard the daughter joked, “Imagine… father gets selected instead of daughter!”

what chance do I have

Among the fresh-faced youth, there were local beauty queens, pretty models and dancers. Some arrived with their entourage (makeup artists, managers/mentors, and so on). My inner critic began to take over, “Why am I even here? Roles have dried up for ladies my age!” 

How Likely Am I to Get Selected?

I went to the audition casually-dressed. What chance do I – a simple Iban lady from Miri, has anyway? I don’t even have the movie-star-look.

“Just be yourself.”

I am aware that there will be roles available for people in all different stages of life. I am willing to live in my own skin. Of course, we all want to be the hottest, prettiest, sexiest, youngest, whatever-est… but you and I know too well that majority of film and television roles represent real people portraying real lives. Sometimes, we might think that we can play every part, but that’s completely false. Our acting roles fall within certain parameter – which is set by our looks and personality. Nicholas Cage is an extremely talented actor, would you like to see him take on the role of Superman?

Cameras don’t lie. I won’t lie either. So, I’ll just be myself and see how it goes. :-)

Group Pictures

Below: Some of the hopefuls taking group photo with YB Datuk Sebastian Ting (in green t-shirt), Tan Sri Dato’ Lau Siew Wai, along with film director Zhu Dan (standing on the right side of YB Datuk Sebastian Ting), and main sponsors for the production. Many candidates weren’t in this picture because they came later in the afternoon.

those who auditioned posed with YB Datuk Sebastian Ting

Another group photo with YB Datuk Lee Kim Shin (seated 5th from the right):

those who auditioned posed with YB Datuk Lee Kim Shin

The group photos I posted here were captured by my hubby. I’m extremely thankful that he is supportive of my interests.

audition day

Four aspirants posing for a picture with YB Datuk Sebastian Ting:

YB Datuk Sebastian Ting poses with some of those who tried their lucks in the audition

I’m glad I went for the audition. Not only was it fun, I get to know people who are on the same page as myself.

That wasn’t my first audition for a movie however. Just months before ‘Blue Tears’ audition, I went for an audition organized by an independent Miri-based producer but last I heard, the project was postponed due to budget constraints. I’m sure we all are aware that film making is not a cheap hobby.

Veering Out of Topic / Reminiscence of Days Long Gone

Allow me to tell you a little bit about my brief stint in the local performing arts and tv. When I was in my early 20s, I stayed in West Malaysia. I got involved in two Malay drama productions there – became an extra in one drama, and a supporting actress in another. I was told both were shown on Astro. Those days, I was actively involved in many theatrical activities of the government University I was attending. The course I was offered to study was Pure Science (majoring in Chemistry) but I was more interested in my extra curricular activities.

Those days I danced and acted in musical theatres, learned some contemporary dances, and even performed Mak Yong – ‘Anak Raja Gondang’.  Even though I was just a backup dancer, I am extremely grateful for that opportunity. A fellow dancer, Rosnan Rahman, whom I had the privilege to meet & performed together on several occasions, went on to become a very successful Mak Yong performer in Malaysia. He was taking Architecture course in that same University I went to. Spending a substantial amount of time rehearsing in the theater hall with fellow performers, I felt immensely joyful and liberated. I am convinced that I am artistically inclined. Physical photos of those good old days are among my greatest treasures. I will share those photos with you one fine day.

Nowadays, watching any artistic dance and theatrical performances triggers a tremendous feeling of nostalgia in me.

Growing Up / The Much Younger Me

I have always dreamed of being able to sing beautifully, dance gracefully, and act flawlessly in Broadway style productions. Growing up, I enjoyed films by the late Tan Sri Datuk Amar P. Ramlee, some musicals from the 50s, 60s and 70s (The Sound of Music, My Fair Lady, King and I, Funny Girl), some horror movies (I remember Pontianak Gua Musang!), and the likes of them.

I guess I could say that my primary school teachers were the first ones to notice my ‘talent’ / whatever it was that they saw in me. I was no more than 9 years old when they asked me to perform songs during school events. I remembered during classes, another teacher would come to my class and requested from the current class teacher to ‘borrow’ me for awhile. Strangely, I was the only one chosen out of the 30 classmates that I had. She would bring me to a (singing) rehearsals in another classroom. My late-father was a government servant sent to perform duties in Sri Aman for several years before my family relocated back to Miri when I was 12 years old.

My First Television Appearance

My primary school is located opposite the town’s RTM Building. I’m not sure what happened, but me and a few other talents (eg: some girls played the piano while others sing in a group) were chosen for a children’s talent showcase program of some sorts. Mine was a solo performance. Again, my teachers were the ones recommending me for that program. Before I knew it, I was in front of the TV camera, singing a Chinese children song and dancing (the whole thing was choreographed by my teachers). I wasn’t thinking about money or anything complicated, I was just a happy-go-lucky 8 year-kid having fun. I guess I wasn’t exactly a shy kid – perhaps a contrast to how I am now… I can be quite shy depending on the situations.

The children’s program, called Putera Puteri, was aired on a local station – TV 1. My family led a very simple and basic life, we didn’t have means to record the program; even if I am able to trace the clip, I’m probably too embarrassed to show it to you. *laughs*

Another time, I was called to the studio to sing with other students; we were told it was a program for local radio station. I don’t remember the details, all I know is I dutifully fulfilled my teachers’ instructions. Like I mentioned earlier, I was just a happy-go-lucky 8 year-kid having fun.

My primary school was directly opposite the RTM building (:

map to my primary school

Given the opportunity, I would love to visit my primary school (SJK Chung Hua) again someday. Yes, I attended a Chinese school for a few years, hence my ability to converse in Mandarin – in addition to my own mother tongue (Iban), Bahasa Malaysia, and English.

Return to My Place of Birth – Miri

After I completed my secondary school in Miri, I traveled to and stayed in West Malaysia for 10 years. Once I returned back to my hometown for good, I didn’t nurture my artistic interests. The muscles in my pharynx have been in a lazy mode for too long.

I admit it’s rare for me to come across wannabe thespians or theatrically inclined souls like myself here. There aren’t many auditions for movies, dramas, or musical theatres here.

For me, stage acting and screen acting are two distinct mediums, but I love them both. Though, due to my own weaknesses, I find stage acting more challenging. A professional will tell you that they are equally challenging and both require great deal of focus, but you probably heard it before: “Stage is an actor’s medium and film is a director’s medium.” I am also fascinated by the world behind the lens. Just so you know, I also dabble in screenwriting.

Back to the issue at hand – The Audition for Blue Tears

I’ve told you a little bit about my artistic adventures. Now, back to the main issue at hand – the audition for Blue Tears.

I was selected to be involved in “Blue Tears”- as an extra. A proper term for that would be ‘background actress’. Metaphorically speaking, my role is just a speck of dust in the whole film; nevertheless, I am extremely grateful for the chance given to me. I am NOT in it for the money or fame. I crave for the experience! If it is fame that I’m after, you would have seen my pictures all over the place.

Honestly, I didn’t think I would get selected at all. There were plenty of young and good-looking candidates trying their luck at the audition. The local actresses chosen to support the main cast are at least 20 years my junior! They are fresh-faced and beautiful. I’m grateful to be given a chance to contribute to the movie production. Meanwhile, the main cast are talented male actors from Hong Kong / China – one of them is Wong Yat-fei.

Not all the extras in Blue Tears are newbies, some of them (myself included) have prior acting experience. While it is often believed that background cast members require little or no acting experience and skill, I believe that’s not entirely correct. Film directors know what they want, and they know it when they see it. :-)

Like I chronicled earlier – growing up (between 5 years old and 11 years old), I attended a Chinese primary school, hence my ability to converse in basic Mandarin. It made things a bit easier around the set as most of the film crew speak Mandarin.

The Grand Ceremony Before Commencement of Shoot

Chief Minister of Sarawak – Yang Amat Berhormat Datuk Amar Abang Haji Abdul Rahman Zohari Bin Tun Datuk Abang Haji Openg officiated the ceremony that marked the beginning of the movie shoot. Mr Lim has the details in his blog – www.cy8cy.com. Prayers were offered during the ceremony for smooth shooting. The ceremony was held at Miri Marriott Resort & Spa on December 6, 2016. I could not attend the event because I had an examination at OUM that morning.

Shooting commenced in March 2017, after all vital equipment had been shipped to Miri and everything was ready.

Pics or it didn’t happen!

Photography was allowed in this production, therefore you get to see some behind-the-scenes images. I love the world of film making … at times I secretly wish I can work in film studios and get entrusted with the job of capturing awesome production stills. Each production is a journey; production stills help preserve memories and I love documenting memories!

I wasn’t required at all the filming locations, only selected ones – Club Celebrities, Base Camp, and Tusan beach. Some of the main casts also traveled to other locations such as Niah, Mulu, and Brunei.

My other-half was a background actor in one of the night scenes in Club Celebrities.

they need extras for scenes shot inside Club Celebrities

A giant poster depicting Tusan cliff:

big poster

Along with a few other extras, I was on stand-by outside Base Camp. We didn’t manage to strut our stuff in front of the camera that day (March 18, 2017) because certain scene was cancelled/postponed. We were on stand-by from noon till an midnight.

some film scenes were shot in Base Camp

The main actors laughing in between takes:

at Base Camp

You’ll see more pictures of Tusan because I spent a lot of time there, even though my screen time is probably a few seconds long. On the first day I was there (stood by for about 12 hours), the scene which I’m supposed to be in was postponed to the next day.

location - Tusan beach

We arrived at Tusan before the stalls were opened, and left the venue long after the stalls were closed. Meaning, we arrived there before noon, and left sometime after midnight. The film crew went up to Tusan in the morning, and stayed the whole day and evening; on one occasion they stayed on until the next day to finish off some scenes – that’s almost 24 hours at Tusan.

the stalls were barely open

Tusan is scorching hot during the day, and a little chilly / windy at night.

mannequin

Like I mentioned earlier, Tusan is hot during the day, and windy at night; for my role, I was wearing a sarong.

Bomba was there on stand-by. The sight of it wasn’t meant to be scary. Sensible measures must be taken to keep everyone safe, including the onlookers (there were many of them).

Bomba and the crew

Below: Let’s call it a ‘longhouse’. It’s actually quite short, built by local villagers specifically for a crucial scene (I am in it!) where the director could only execute a single-take. We could not afford to make any mistake on that single-take. They were going to burn down the mock-longhouse!

that cute long house

Without those bright spot lights, Tusan is pitch black at night.

night scenes

The sound of ocean waves was soothing but there were times when I felt a little chilly as I was only garbed in sarong (tied just above my bust).

other extras in the scene that I am also in

The next two images are grabbed from Global China Film (M) Sdn. Bhd’s facebook page:

At this point, I did not carry any personal item (especially cellphone). It was my time to be a ke le fe (an extra)!

One villager told me it was the first time in his life (he was about 60 years old) that he watched a film crew making a movie near his village.

many bystanders watching us acting for the film

Mock-longhouse razed by fire.

longhouse razed by fire

That’s real fire, mate, no CGI involved. My mind just could not dismiss Murphy’s Law easily.

One moment my character was fleeing the Japanese soldiers, next – my character was dead; makeup artists came by to put on fake blood on my face and shoulders. Then they came again to put some more in between takes. The two children acting alongside me were giggling at the sight of my bloody face. For the next scene, they were released from their characters and told to get back to their parents (who were nearby actually). The next scene is too dangerous for them, I guess.

I was pretending to be a corpse on the ground a few feet away from the inferno. The wild grass I laid on kept triggering my skin receptors to send irritating signals to my brain. Bear in mind I was wearing a sarong. It’s all in the mind, I whispered to myself. I just hoped there’s no alien pollen amongst the grass. Does that make you think of Alien Covenant? =p

I will forever remember how it felt – the heat transmitted onto my face. It seemed like eternity before the director decided we could get out of our characters, the thermal radiation had became almost unbearable on my sensitive skin. My gratitude to a fellow actor, Bong Cheng Tzuu, for his genuine care towards all the extras. He was watchful throughout the scene and guided me to safety once we were told to get out of our characters.

Once we received the green light to get out of character, I scrambled to my feet, turned to the crowd and saw Bong Cheng Tzuu gesturing for me to run towards him. The terrain was uneven, I stumbled but he swiftly caught my arms. I staggered further away from the inferno and collapsed with relief and happiness at the spot where I left my slippers (we were filming the scene barefooted). I am happy and satisfied because I have contributed my part. My fellow actress, Ervina, could not locate her slippers so she went home barefooted that midnight! There were just too many bystanders around.

It was an unforgettable evening. Thank Heavens everything went smoothly.

somewhere beyond the slope fire still raging

After that last scene in Tusan, I quickly returned to the bus and observed smoke rising beyond the slope. Many bystanders were still there, watching. I couldn’t bear to watch the mock structure getting burned. Besides, I was getting claustrophobic at the dense crowd gathered there. If, a human stampede occurs, I do not think I will survive it. Inside the deserted bus I found a brief solace; heaving a long sigh of relief, I closed my tired eyes.

By the time I reached home and finished scrubbing off some fake blood from my face, neck and shoulders, it was almost 3 am. One of the makeup artists told me those stains would disappear completely after 2 days! It’s alright, I won’t get out of the house for 2 days then. I heard a fellow extra reached home much later than I did; instead of following the bus, she took a lift on an actor’s car but the car broke down! Well, we all have our own bittersweet memories during the filming.

The long hours / days spent away from our comfort zones finally took a toll on some of us. I found myself equally hazy when a fellow actor asked me, “What day is it today?” When I got home, I repeated the question to my husband, maybe one too many because he threw me a concerned look.

Extended hours standing by on sets (the weather wasn’t always nice on some filming locations), the demons of sleepless nights, and multitasking (finishing assignments and studying for my Psychology papers which were just two weeks away from the film shoot) kind of muddled my days. FYI, I undertake a Psychology course from OUM because: (a) I love the challenge; (b) I think it is fun; (c) I think human minds are fascinating; (d) I have free time to spare; and (e) I want to know myself deeply / Self-knowledge.

However, I wasn’t the only one who came down with fatigue and flu after the show had wrapped. I blamed it on myself because I didn’t take extreme care of myself during that period.

Below: Allister took a day off from filming because he wasn’t feeling well. Friends were wishing him fast recovery.

he took the day off

Wandering on the rugged terrain of Tusan took its toll on my super-comfy Ipanema slippers. Farewell slippers, you have served me well.

RIP My Ipanema slippers

Though I love stilettos very much, there were days when I’m contented to just lounge around in simple slippers – especially when I want to remain inconspicuous. I wore those slippers during a trip back from Cat City last year. Depending on my mood swing, I can dress cin cai-ly or to the nines.

for those days I do not feel like wearing high heels

Behind the Scenes

The images here were arranged in no particular order.

Crew members making preparations before filming scenes at Club Celebrities:

preparing for scenes in CC

prepared to film in CC

This was a night scene filmed in Club Celebrities:

preparation - scene in CC

An employee of Club Celebrities bringing out the props to be used by actors:

in CC - preparation for filming

Close-up shot:

film crew hard at work behind the scenes

There were no fewer than 20 extras working that night:

scene in CC

Some of the main cast waiting to film their scenes at Base Camp:

Blue Tears bay

The hardworking crew members were camping outside Base Camp:

film crew hard at work

While waiting for our scene, we watched the crew filming another scene at Tusan cliff:

scenes by Tusan beach

Can you spot Hong Kong actor Wong Yat-Fei inside this photo?

Wong Yat Fei chauffeured by a driver

It’s been awhile since I last boarded a bus!

the bus we boarded

I wasn’t allowed to drive myself to Tusan, therefore I boarded the bus together with the film director, some cast members and the crew. I understand why the rule was implemented. It was to prevent actors from ‘going missing’. Furthermore, Tusan is a public attraction, there are many visitors during the weekends – limited parking space can be an issue. One or two of the actors did drove their own vehicles to Tusan, and they were kind enough to let us stash our bag packs  inside their cars while we were filming.

naik bas pergi ke lokasi penggambaran

Before boarding the chartered bus, we gathered at Imperial Palace hotel lobby. The lobby was our usual meeting point before heading off to film locations.

we gathered at Imperial Palace hotel lobby

Upon arrival at Tusan, we were told to change our clothes and await further instructions. I truly enjoyed the on-set camaraderie.

waiting for instructions

Bomba and pasukan Penyelamat were there to ensure the safety of everyone involved, including the bystanders and villagers nearby:

Bomba assisted the production

The lovely girls from Perfect Stage Makeup Academy were our official makeup artists in the film:

Makeup by Perfect Stage

Time for touch-ups, boys!

makeup or special effects time

Our local boys cos-playing as Japanese soldiers =D

actors - as Japanese soldiers

Handsome boys – Summer Wong and Kerwin Yee Chuan Loong smiling for my camera:

actors

Below: Allister Wee played a baddass Japanese soldier in the film. He is my friend in real life but our characters are mortal enemies in the film.

my friend acted as Japanese general

What happened between shots? We waited patiently – sometimes inside the bus, other times outside. In the clip below, Bryan Yong is seen rapping to a Chinese song, while the rest were either chatting or resting. Tusan is hot during the day, the bus became our refuge.

At the Dinner

After filming had wrapped, we had dinner with the production team. Some crew members rushed to the airport right after the dinner to catch their flight back to China (transit in KL).

Below: A toast. Here’s to all the hard work contributed in completing the film.

Our big boss for this movie project is Mr. Oliver Yong (middle) – he is the Chairman of Global China Film (Malaysia) Sdn. Bhd. On the extreme left is film director, Zhu Dan.

Director and main financier came to our table - while hubby looked on

Below: There were only a handful of Ibans actor and actresses selected to participate in ‘Blue Tears’. On the extreme right is Desmond Sagoh (the founder of Sanggar Budaya – a local dance troupe). Second from right is Ervina Peter. On the extreme left is Debbie Kenstern – her role (Katrina) is vital to the movie plot; she was also the Kumang Gawai for Miri last year. Beside her is Magdalene, a performer in Sanggar Budaya.

with cikgu Desmond - Debbie K - Ervina Peter

Film director talking to miss Rachel Chin:

Director with one of the cast members

Mr. Oliver Yong and the film director visited our table to have a drink with us:

Mr Yong came to kam pei at our table

Film director (on the right) looking very happy. He was speaking to the actors sitting around our table.

film director beaming

I love this wonderful woman! She is a fellow Mirian. Watch out for her scene in the movie. :)

a very sporting cast member

I Enjoyed the On-set Camaraderie

All in all, it was a wonderful experience. Like I stated earlier, I enjoyed the on-set camaraderie. I just wish I could document the entire production process with a good camera because I think it is nice to preserve memories of a film shoot. Furthermore, decent photos that represent the diversity of filming locations can make up a memorable photo album which is neat to look at after a movie production is wrapped.

I’ve always been fascinated with behind-the-scenes activity, I think it is interesting to see how a film progress, what the crew and actors are doing in between takes, how things are designed and coordinated, etc. Of course film makers don’t like photographers to interfere with a shot because that is a mortal sin!

I sincerely hope that there would be more film making activities in my hometown. I certainly would love to see more local film-makers and talents showcase their aptitudes and mastery.

Some of my photos here were snapped using a camera phone, the ASUS ZenFone3. Two of the photos were grabbed from Global China Film (M) Sdn Bhd’s facebook page. Newspaper clippings were scanned using HP Deskjet 2050.

Newspaper Clippings & Excerpt

Borneo Post online clip

BP BT

Blue Tears in See Hua Daily News news clip

I may have prior experience working in front of the camera, but this is the FIRST time I worked TOGETHER with my husband in the same film. Our roles may be minuscule in Blue Tears, but we are happy to contribute our parts.

Boodles and Beetz in Blue Tears

Blue Tears premiered in Guangzhou on May 26, 2017.

See Hua - a

See Hua - b

See Hua - c

See Hua - d

Thank you for reading. I wish you a nice day. Cheers!

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