Ask any film producer or director what the 2 most essential parts of making a film is and more than 50 percent of them will say two things: storyline & cast.

While storyline is something that is in the writer or director’s control, cast is something that can take up more than half the film’s budget and even eat into its time line – something my cronies and I are currently experiencing with our new HD short film ‘Petrol Lam’.

Across the board, this is the hardest we’ve all worked to get the proper cast because we know that if we don’t, the film is going to flop like a bunny’s ears in heat.

Casting day 1 came and went 2 weeks ago and I must say we’re all kinda disappointed with the talents that passed through our audition lenses.

When given directions and character briefings along with the scenes, all of the paltry 7 candidates we had that day gave us Royal Shakespearean theatrics that the film didn’t need or call for.

O where o where are the REAL actors, I lamented, as my film-mates chorused along with me in agreement.

Where are the actors that don’t feel this need to overwhelm the camera with their flamboyant interpretations and dialogue exhilarations?

The worse were the ones who didn’t even comprehend the directions me and my co-director/writer were giving to them after a first take.

So then, imagine this exact scenario taking place on the actual set. Can you see how drained we producers and directors will be by then?

So now the question begs – Is it me or are Singaporean upstart actors trying too hard?

A casual meet n greet session with our wonderful stunt co-ordinator Sunny ‘Thank God there are real fantastic people in this industry still’ Pang (see below) also corroborated this fact.

Sunny Pang, in character from a recent DaHuang Pictures film

The discussion with him revealed that most everyone (especially the newbies) are either in it for the glam factor or trying to do their rendition of King Lear gone barmy on the moors towards the end of his life.

Frankly such acting begets its purpose and begins to look like a toy monkey on wheels.

Why are actors not prudent to the fact that acting is about

1. reacting and

2. not about the huge big flailing of arms and voice projections but about the

a) thought process and internalisations and

b) the small intricate facial expressions that constitute a realism that translates beyond the screen and zaps its way right into the viewer’s heart.

What I do see is one of the reasons for such bad acting is the encouragement of such styles from MediaCorp dramas where a project has to be wrapped in literally 30 seconds flat so everyone can go home and think about churning out the next big piece of crap.

There’s no patience about this industry which is, ironically, what filming and production requires.

There’s also a lack of respect as to the sheer hard work that goes on behind the scenes of any televised or film project.

Instead, it’s all handled with corporate camaraderie with absolutely no foresight to whether this bodes well for the quality of programming and or the local media production industry here in the long term.

Unfortunately, just like everything else in Singapore, it’s short-term gains with no staying value or power. Dangerous practises to say the least seeing how the media industry is currently at one of its lowest points, quality-wise and even payment-wise.

Truly, the arts here are encouraged only for commercial purposes without even glancing at the visionary or aesthetic values that drive it. Again, another dangerous practise because great art juggles the commercial and the artistic beautifully together.

But let not this blog discourage all you guys n gals out there looking to get into acting – no – but merely let this be a valuable insight into the problems begetting the industry as well as an encouragement to take your talent to another level.

Casting day 2 is coming up real soon for us in a week and this time the directive is to find all natural actors who look and fit the role. O, and can understand and take directions of course!

I hope we find some treasure somewhere for if we don’t, I’m afraid I’m really going to have to do auditions in Malaysia or cast ourselves. Either way, it doesn’t look like this is going to be an easy task.

We’ll all have to forge ahead nonetheless. Wish us all some good ole ‘Oyrish’ luck!


About thejellyfarm

In real life, I am a television writer and producer...er no...scratch...a television director....noo, scratch....a media loser.....wait, that doesn't sound quite insulting enough....... OK, ahem. In real life, I'm an idiot box expert with a penchant for the creative. In short, I'm a loser with no focus or direction in life. I just go where the creative flow takes me. Mostly it takes me to clogged up drains and stinky oceans but it's going.......going.....somewhere. And this blog is an expression of that mindblowing roadblock. Creative frustration is a great motivator and here is a result of that.

Posted on May 1, 2010, in TV/Film Production, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Oh dear, sorry to hear you’re having a difficult time getting actors that fit the bill. I know, as with many things creative, it can be frustrating to find a specific shared emotional space with people you’ve only just met. Please don’t give up. It’s the growing pains. Hope round 2 works out better. 🙂

  2. thejellyfarm

    I hope so too! Fingers crossed and looking out for a special cast with a twinkle in their eye and in their hearts.

  3. “Unfortunately, just like everything else in Singapore, it’s short-term gains with no staying value or power” + “the arts here are encouraged only for commercial purposes without even glancing at the visionary or aesthetic values that drive it” ”

    – Hope the 2nd round of casting is smooth…
    – keep yr spirit up
    – if u ever need someone who speak beijing or taiwanese accent mandarin, count me in, cameo role will be fun, though i prefer to be behind the scene
    – Two thumbs up for your persistence, passion…


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