Friday, April 13, 2007

The beginning is the end is the beginning

I know, I know. I'm really sorry. I've just bumped into a phase that has totally sucked up all form of whatever minimal leisurely time I already had, including the time to upkeep this blog. I hated the day that this would come, but it has, and well, if you still visit here from time to time, thanks a mill. Regardless, I'll just give a quick rundown of what's been up with me over the past few months.

I went to Singapore in January for a business trip. It was amazing fun, seeing my good mate Razzaq who was incidentally down there as well. Scoping the nightlife, shopping, making the most of hotel housekeeping... It almost didn't feel like work at all. If there's anything I would still love to upload as an entry, it would be this trip. I hope to get to it eventually. Plus I've gotten some wicked videos that exemplify Retardation Nation which can't possibly go to waste.

I've filmed one of my biggest adverts since my TM Net gig in 2005. This time it's for Dynamo, where I play the owner of a daycare centre. I can dare say that it was one of the most difficult shoots I've ever done. Infants and toddlers are the most difficult actors to work with, although no fault of their own. They're just very spontaneous and hence inconsistent with what they do, so the responsibility of getting a good take falls completely in the hands of the oldest talent on set. But like all other demanding shoots, it was a great learning experience. I don't have any shots of myself, but here are a few I managed to take instead.

Director Brian and crew perking up the kids

My cue card

The set that was built in a Shah Alam indoor studio from scratch

The commercial premiered on TV just a week or two ago. I've seen it once and am pretty insulted that my voice has been dubbed over by someone who doesn't sound half as genuine as I do in my humble opinion. But at least it looks like my co-stars really like me. God bless the wonders of great editing.

A good mate of mine, Michael Chen, has always expressed an interest to work together and he finally managed to rope me in for a short film he put together for the BMW Shorties competition back in February. 'Moving On' was Michael's first attempt at writing and directing, and I personally think he did a superb job. His one-on-one preparation techniques with me before shoots were sometimes too effective, and there were times where I ended up taking my character back home with me which would mess me up for days on end. But his efforts paid off after the crew and I sat down to watch the final product. Our film didn't make it to the shortlisting, but Michael attended the winner announcement ceremony, and in a little montage of all the submissions recieved, my face apparently appeared almost every 2 seconds. Thought that was a sweet consolation. And look out for Michael, he'll be the next big to happen to Malaysian arts.

In February, The Sun newspaper got round to publishing my prize-winning article from The Cicak's 'Write It!' competition. Quite surreal to have my byline peering out from the comment page. It's every budding writer's dream, and I hope I've inspired some readers to realize that they are capable of being so much bigger than what others restrict them to be.

As of January, I've been contributing writer to The Living Arts, a Malaysian arts newsletter that The Actors Studio publishes for free on a monthly basis. So far I've been submitting commentaries about arts and the media, as well as plugging local stage productions that might need a little boost of publicity. I offered my services to get myself back into the habit of serious writing, and it's a good start to building a proper portfolio. The feedback I get about my pieces have been coming from the most unlikely of places. I made a cold phonecall for a corporate sales pitch the other day; the woman who took my call recognized my name from The Living Arts, and said she was encouraging her own daughter to be like me and get involved in a lot of things. That was so awesome. I've been uploading my articles online (do excuse the lame address, I was so out of ideas):

My mate Gavin Yap has been approaching me lately to try out for a few voiceover auditions that he's been holding. I've never tried out anything like that before, but I've been having loads of fun with it. I chipped in a few lines for a pilot episode for a cartoon targeted at preschoolers, as one of 3 fish that poses a riddle to the main characters before they are allowed to cross a river. Gavin has been poking fun at my lines ever since then, and I get angry only because I haven't thought of a good comeback line yet. But jokes aside, I'm really thankful that he's put a little faith in me and letting me have a go at this sort of thing. I've kinda indirectly returned the favor by giving the next production he's directing some coverage in the April issue of Living Arts. Check out 'Tell Tale Heart' at KLpac this month, I think it'll be really something.

I've tried my hand at writing a play myself. The Oral Stage is a youth theatre outfit that was looking for writers for their upcoming seasons, and I was one of several who were selected. It felt very awkward writing the short play under a deadline, but I managed to put something together at the eleventh hour, and Kelvin Wong the director found the mood of it suitable enough to kickstart the entire production of SCREWED. It's a great honor but I'm extremely nervous because I never found the opportunity to sit in during any of the rehearsals. But it would be interesting to see how Kelvin and the actors interpret what I've written. It's a 5-minute piece called 'The Color Green'. Catch it this month if you're curious, and let me know what you think.

And finally, I've been selected as one of the twenty finalists for the Malaysian edition of the talent reality show, 'So You Think You Can Dance'. I've just completed the initial stages over a span of several weeks, and now I'm getting ready to move into a hotel this coming Sunday where I will be temporarily imprisoned - no contact with the outside world, barely any rest, cameras on you 24/7. The competition goes 'live' in the beginning of May, and eliminations via sms votes go on until the finals in June. As a self-trained dancer who goes crazy in clubs in a tragic plea for attention, I had no idea I would get this far and I honestly have no idea what the judges saw in me to let me go further. I would like to at least get a hint of that reason before I get the boot. Doing this show has not been without its huge sacrifices to work and life in general, but with the support of my mates and my family, I have a feeling this may be the start of something new. You can catch the show every Thursday evening on 8TV.

Which is why, despite writing this at 4am and feeling like I've been run over by a bus, I feel I must blog one more time. I just don't know when I'll be able to do so again after this and that upsets me. Dare I say it, Retardation Nation is an extension of my life, and I love how I can use it to entertain people. I would love to come back to it once all the drama is over, but as always, it's just a matter of when. Again, I gotta say to everyone whom has ever visited my blog and continue to do so even through my dry spells, you've been so brilliant in breathing life into my online realm. Thanks for sharing the laughs, the tears, the bits of life that make you go, "Whoa. Can we do that again?"

Keep up the great vibes and see y'all from the small screen.

Davina @ Disco-very