Thursday, December 29, 2005

EXIT review - 1

The Film Forum of Kuala Lumpur

Patrick Lim: EXIT
The Second Camera As Magnifier Of Truth

Interpretation by Dr. Anuar Nor Arai

At the age of 22, Patrick Lim grabs very early the subject of alienation. Quite independently creative with his materials, Patrick Lim takes on a conceptual fling at expressing the motivated style of space and time and tries to recreate them in terms of the mind. It seems that the little room in EXIT has extended physical space in four-folds: the physical space of a room as a room for interrogation, the physio-mental space of the lady in the room, the physio-mental space of the interrogator, and the space of the lady with the camera and her soundman. Space and time expanded because the lady tends to recreate the memories of the murder in lengthy dialogues and provide proliferation of words on visuals. Space seems to expand within the echoes of the mind without physical extensions.

This paper was presented at the Film Forum of Kuala Lumpur jointly sponsored by the Forum Film of Kuala Lumpur and Perbadanan Kemajuan Filem Nasional, at FINAS on the 30 January 2002.The camera seems to absorb physical space on an extended mental display of words and meanings of words. It is a cross-sectional pattern of space-time illusions that accumulate the cross-passing of cue-volleys in extendable space-time relationships. No abstract patterns were sought, and very little movements were given to both the interrogator and the interrogated, but the rhythm and tempo of relationships between the two has magnified each other’s emotional pixilation on recorded pictures in the camera and sound in the nagra. The interrogator and the interrogated are grabbing at each others mind.
to be continued...

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

TRUE - 1

Personal Journal - 1
I have finally embarked on my next project which has given me a renewed, invigorated feeling. The notion of production has always intrigued me. To do or not to do...that is the question. After I have shot ECHOES last year, it left me completely exhausted physically and mentally. I enjoyed the process of it but I hated the grueling hours that I had to endure where I worked my regular job from 8.30am to 6pm and I shot ECHOES from 7pm to 7am the next morning and continued this for 6 days. Luckily it was broken up into 3 days a week and the next week was postponed to the week after due to the unavailability of the HD camera. I cherished every second of the production because of my dedicated crew members that toiled through with me to get the project done. Kylie Chan, my art director, Clarice Wong, my co-producer, Hor Suet Ling, my production manager and Jennifer Liew, my wife, the writer of ECHOES are my saviours.

Why did it take this long for my next project? I had to find a subject that I feel that I want to invest my time and effort in. After the cold response from ECHOES, I thought I took a little time to re-examine myself to realign my love for the cinema. My trip to Berlinale early in the year gave me an opportunity to observe what others were doing and my mind went into hibernation. I wanted to go back on a smaller scale project where I would not have the financial pressure that I had with ECHOES.
to be continued...

Monday, December 26, 2005

EXIT - 8 (final)

Director's note - 8 (final)

EXIT was shot in four days with a shooting ratio of 4 to 1. We had call time of 7am and ended 7pm for all the four days. Post-production took about 3 months to complete. We encountered sound problem on the first day when we were three quarter into the day, the sound operator came to inform that the air-conditioner was turned on in Sam’s booth. (Hence the inconsistency in the sound) My cameraman decided to compose the close-up shot of Ben after he reveals the murder himself. I should have had a second take on that but the cameraman did not inform me of his misdeed until I saw them during telecine.

During the post-production period, I found the person to compose the music for the film. He was a professional composer for jingles for commercials and low budget films. Again, he did it for a copy of the video tape. The sound mixing session took longer than expected as we tried to smooth out the inconsistencies and that cost me quite a bit of money.

All in all, I enjoyed the process of making EXIT and I am itching to get back into the arena again. The experience was an invaluable one. By working with professionals, it pushes your level up to theirs, as they would expect no less. Negotiating creatively and psychologically with the actors is one experience that I will hold on as I find it very challenging and fulfilling. I know of the pitfalls that I have done and that will be the benchmark where I will further improve.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

ECHOES notes - 1

Director's notes - 1
An Introduction
Love is a fluctuation frequency. Infidelity imprints a sense of guilt that lingers on forever in the mind of the person committing it. The loss of a child is an indescribable pain that is etched eternally into the mind and soul of a mother.

The mind is a vast area of electrical nodes that allows some memories to travel freely and effortlessly but for other more specific or at times, painful ones to hide away in a dark corner of the mind. The door could be released, unconsciously, triggered by some traumatic chances in life. Our ability as a human to travel through time in the mind is an astonishing achievement. To be in the moment yet recalling a past to connect the emotional truth in a particular scene by an actor is an incredible feat. The mind is an amazing creation that binds the humanity in us.

The question is what if GUILT entwines in a loop of time through the mind and you could not seem to escape from the clutches of your own conscience?
to be continued...

Friday, December 23, 2005

EXIT - 7

Director's note - 7
Since this was a student’s project, all that were involved in the film were students except for the actors and the steadicam operator(To which I owe a great debt to my Director of Photography, Gudmundur Sverisson). Gos, my DP did such a great job at achieving the mood that was needed for EXIT. Luther "Crocodile" Yee was instrumental in keeping a tight reign into the logistics side of the production.  Timothy Bui was my camera operator.  Yumiko Oda was my dedicated assistant camera.  I was fortunate enough to get a great crew that was dedicated to the production except for the art director who turned out to be the bad apple of the production.

The support for the film in US is both encouraging and frustrating. The process of putting up advertisements in the industry dailies for actors is free of charge. There are quite a lot of incentives given to film students to proceed with their projects. The steadicam operator, who gets about US2,000 daily on a film project, came into my production for a mere US50 to help me create my most favourite sequence in EXIT, which is the opening. The cameras in the college could not support the steadicam, so we had to rent a camera from the outside. The frustrating part is working around the unions. I had three actors registered with Screen Actors Guild and the hassle that we had to go through to get them in the film. We had to have insurance on them and we had to submit a contract stating that the film will be used non-commercially. All these procedures drove the budget up slightly. Was it worth it? Yes. Yes. When I talk about support, the professional actors worked for free for the project. All they ask for is videotape for their portfolio. That is what we lack in Malaysia, a strong support from all parties involved in the industry. We should be able to lend a hand to students or low budget production to get their project off the ground.
to be continued...

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

EXIT - 6

Director's notes - 6
After Sam’s revelation of the rape, Bobby Taylor (her first boyfriend) and the process that she gets the men to her place, Ben gets aroused. Who is manipulating whom? Ben gets very uneasy as the table is turned to him. He gets more agitated as Sam describes her cutting the throat of her victims if they don’t die from the castration. The cutting of the throat parallels to the murder he committed in Vietnam. He breaks down with the murder he committed in Vietnam. After that, a bunch of military men storm in and capture Ben. We are given the information that Ben was the one that was wanted. The interrogation was used to trap him. The FBI also tricked out Sam, who earlier made a deal with the FBI. McAllister comes in later, lights his cigarette and asks for the whereabouts of Bobby Taylor’s body. Who is ultimately the invisible hand that puppeteers the puppet?
to be continued...

Sunday, December 18, 2005

CHOICE - Part 4

Director's notes - Part 4
I want CHOICE to be a mirror reflecting upon what is happening to our youth today. Although this is only small parts of our society but magnify that by ten folds and you will have an epidemic of national proportion to deal with. Our youth are supposed to be the leaders of the future but are we heading towards a brighter future?

The other thing that I want the audience to reflect upon is the notion that all of us are hypocrites to a certain extent. Our actions contradict our words at times and vice versa. We are liars if we say otherwise. There were varied responses from some who have seen CHOICE. Ones that liked it could relate to it in some way or another but there were also some that were offended by the brutal truth.

Sometimes it is easy to run from the truth and to be protected of who we really are but how many of us can come face to face with the ugliness within ourselves.

At the end, CHOICE is also about seeking that elusive love and to be accepted as who we are without being judges and not being judged.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

EXIT - Part 5

Director's notes - 5
Through my research, I found out that the interrogation process is a long drawn out, dry and monotonous one. I wanted to simulate that by nearly not move the camera at all.

The whole introduction of Ben putting the cigarette into his mouth, walking to the chair and looking to the mirror is to accustom the audience to where everything is. I planned the interrogation to be foreplay between Ben and Sam. The cigarette signifies the phallic symbol of over compensation on the part of the men in the film and cigarette is also the key for Ben in connecting with Sam.

Ben starts to reveal about himself in order to gain trust from Sam. Manipulation is the key word. He reveals that his private part does not function anymore due to an injury during the Vietnam War. Sam starts to converse when Ben sounded to her that she is pretty, like all men do with an agenda in mind when they are with a woman. She is aware about the camera behind the two-way mirror and compels Ben to prove to her that there is no camera there. We have reached to the midpoint of the film as Lindley and the technician have to get out of the room. Once it is revealed with multiple cuts of the light in the room being switched on, the interrogation really begins after Ben puts the tape recorder on the table. Now, did he press the record button? Another turning point is the position of the camera shifted over the 180° line in order to focus on Ben.
to be continued...

Friday, December 02, 2005

EXIT - Part 4

Director's notes - 4
I had envisioned earlier on having the location to be situated at the college that I was studying in order to cut cost. There was a classroom that had a glass room. The art director and I worked out to build a wall where it housed the mirror, light and sink. The mirror was to act as a two-way mirror and Jeanne Lindley, the FBI rookie and the technician were really behind that wall.

The opening shot of the film was designed as an invitation to the story. The pullback from EXIT sign and the introduction of the hallway with the two main characters talking is the setting up of the whole process of deception in the film. We are introduced to “McAllister” which he will later appear at the end of the film. The subject matter was introduced as “Sam Dexter” in the beginning to deceive the audience in a way that the serial killer is a man. Ben King is introduced as a gum chewing; overweight (the actor gained 10lbs for the film), arrogant FBI interrogator and I contrasted it with Jeanne Lindley, an unassuming FBI rookie with a red jacket (the colour is an indication that she is the person in control at the end of the film). After Ben enters the room, I foreshadow the Military man with the EXIT sign behind him.
to be continued...

Thursday, December 01, 2005

CHOICE - Part 3

Director's notes - 3

The Process
We met for two Sundays at Brigetta’s place where the condo scenes were shot. I checked out and loved the location, the bathroom, which I thought was a bit small but the big mirror compensated for what I really wanted and I know the cameramen can negotiate themselves in the small area.

During the two Sundays, we discussed about characters and their history. The three of them shared their experience and history with me where I, then incorporated them in CHOICE.

I needed three of them to be completely different but in an emotional level, they need each other for support, like a bouncing ball needing a surface for it to be able to bounce off from. Naomi, to a degree becomes the initiator to the conversation and also the observer to Henry’s and Brigetta’s issues.

Naomi has a calculated coldness and an invisible but clearly vulnerable barrier that she puts up to protect herself. She is also torn between her Malay-Irish heritage and the conformity that she has to abide to.

The outspoken Brigetta appears strong-willed but is actually the opposite. She sees sexual relationships as an outlet to gratify her selfish needs of her definition of love and desire.

Henry is the catalyst of CHOICE. Being the most complicated character of all, He has issues with his religion, gender and identity. His annoyance succeeds in bringing out the hypocrisies in the other characters and also himself.
to be continued...