Sunday, June 1, 2008 at 12:56 AM |  
.Sweet Dreams are made of these.

The year was 1999. We started with big dreams. The producers, Lee Amizadai, Rizal Rahman and Tzang Merwyn, had hoped to make an independent film of some a kind of cult status, probably the first of its kind in little Singapore. A story which teenagers can relate to. A movie about an underdog’s ‘triumph’ over the oppressive elements of copy culture.

None of us are proficiently well versed in the technical knowledge and professional experience onfilmmaking. However, we do not want to be put down by what we do not know or cannot do. We wanted to see how far we could go. We wanted to make a movie with the raw-ness and brashness of the young and the restless.

We wanted to have the opportunity to experience for ourselves as well as all the people involved, in the making a film which they would be proud to be part of. Clich├ęd though it seems, but we wanted to do the ‘impossible’ - to make a no-budget film. We figured that the brashness camera handling and technical inconsistencies of this film could be a ‘style’ since [e’Tzaintes] is a film about the teenager. The world of an ostracised youth is often filled with perceived imperfection, impulsiveness, irrational behaviour, distractions and embarrassing difficult situations. Wewanted to show that with the way the imagery is captured.

.Lights, Camera, Action … wow.

As soon as it began, everything was chaos. However we like to see it as a ‘good’ chaos, the kind with creativity dangerously exploding everywhere. There were so many people (people that we do not even know) turning up to be part of the film. They had heard about this project from the web and through word-of-mouth. Many of our cast members had their own interpretations of the characters they are playing and their own perceived motivations. After some thought we decided to be adventurous and gave them the free play to build their own characters the way they like, includes tailoring their lines to suit the character.

We could not find the right person to play Wynn Low and W. Ashe Faeke. Wesley Teo who only wanted to be our on-site photographer was pulled in on the first day of filming to play ‘Wynn Low’. Tzang Merwyn, who is suppose to direct the movie has to fill in the acting shoes of W. Ashe Faeke at the last minute. Both had no prior acting experience. Lee Amizadai is already the camera person and Rizal Rahman had to play the Backside Boy 2. Thus the film was made without a director.

There were countless of problems given such an enormous cast and a small crew. We do not have a set manger or director to keep everything in check. The two camerapersons, Lee Amizadai and Karan Low had to double up as cinematographers and directors of photography. They had no storyboard to follow through so shooting was by instinct with both cameras operating at the same time. There was no boom operator; the boom was handled by any extra who was free at that point of time. Given the constraints, the crew (what was left of it) put in their best effort, and managed to deliver better than expected footages.

The cast however was tremendously supportive. Many brought with them their own props, costumes and make up to share with everyone else. We just told them what was going to happen in the particular scene and how it was going to be shot. Independently, they put on theirnew personas and had fun. Most of them had no experience in acting but their ability to relate tothe character which was cast for them shows quite well on tape. On many occasions also, we had to use the same extra in different clothes playing different roles for the same scene. We need to do that to create the very busy, vibrant and colourful atmosphere of Faeryville.
Such was the creative chaos started our fire burning.

.Along came the money.

The funding from the Singapore Film Commission could not have came at a better time. Not only did the funding provide the needed monetary support, (perhaps more importantly) it boosted the moral of the producers. We realise that we are not working for nothing now. There is an organisation that was supporting us to make this dream a reality properly.

We drew out a plan with the new budget that we had. We plan to keep the rawness of the initial production but put it together in a presentable package with the wonders of editing. It was only half of the $5000 contracted, thus we had to rely on someone to lend us the rest of the money first.

We proceeded to purchase the required hardware for our editing system. It took a while for us to put together an editing system because of the lack of funds. We eventually found a person who could lend us a sum of money to put the system together.

Because of the number of footages we have gathered in the three weeks from a very disorganised no-holds-barred shooting, scenes have to be painstakingly logged and re-organised. Editing was delayed for a while when the one of the producers Lee Amizadai went overseas for a social visit. The other producers then take turns to come to the place where the system is left and continued from there. However their time for such was limited because of National Service.

.Down came the rain, and wash the spider out.

A tsunami of problems emerged when we were given a short notice to pay back all the money that we owed for the editing system . Rizal Rahman and Tzang Merwyn were still in National Service. Lee Amizadai has no choice but to take a day job. This delayed the production even further. Together with the meager sum of money that the two NSFs can earn per month, we struggled to pay our debts by installments.
For the next six months, the producers literally lived in poverty, ill health and lack of social life, trying to complete the madness that we have started. Despite that, it is amazing how we still believed in this project, how we are putting our very best each time we work to salvage the brash footage and bad sound we had with editing. We also know that we had the cast of forty odd people to answer to. Its amazing how these people are still looking forward to see the movie when it is out.

. Welcome to the END

After a gruelling two years and three months, [e’Tzaintes] was finally completed. The wonders ofediting, complementing animation and sound sfx has helped to put the raw footages we shot into a presentable package. We, the producers, the very people that once thought that they could fly without wings have landed gently down to earth, worse for wear, but still breathing. That flight was good while it lasted; we had learnt a lot with this dream that got us trying. We saw the power of teenage creativity as we gliding and realise that there is only so high you can go, given the money, time and energy you have.

We are proud to have survived the real world of film-making. We were proud to have tried and notallowing ourselves to be put down by what we do not know or cannot do.
This is INRI studio’s first major production. We hope for more to come.

Written by Tzang Merwyn Tong
in Oct, 2001 when editing was first completed.
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