Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Prep and Test

We did our camera prep today, and shot our actual test on location at the noodle stand. It was pretty nuts - it was raining the whole time, and we had almost a crew of 15 out on the streets.







Nelson was already running his Taiwanese crew pretty smoothly, and I was surprised to see just how fast they can move. We wanted to play with some different lighting scenarios and test out different lenses (which will help us figure out the exact style we're going to shoot the noodle stand sequences in). It's been a tough couple weeks of preproduction to get here, but I'm really glad to be shooting in the middle of a Taiwanese nightmarket instead of LA. It was a fun night.

We'll see the test footage printed and projected in a few days.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Nelson's in Taipei





Nelson, our director of photography, arrived on Saturday morning. I'm sure he's still getting used to being in the middle of a sprawling Asian metropolis, but we've already had a lot of good talks about the look of the film and the style of shooting we're going for. He's going to do amazing job. Today we're doing the first tech scout and taking Nelson to the camera house to check out the gear.



Coincidentally, Nelson just shot a video in LA for this Taiwanese mega-pop star, Wong Lee Hom, which is now the number one video on Mandarin MTV. As soon as Nelson got to our apartment in Taipei, we turned on the TV and saw the video being played.

Friday, February 24, 2006

10 Days




We're only 10 days from the start of production, but things are really coming together. All locations are locked (here is a shot of the restaurant exterior - we're still working out the logistics of shooting there)...

We still need to cast the final lead (the noodle shop owner), but we're getting close. We went to a performance/art school today where one of our producers, Ying Tso, used to teach - we tried to find some drama teachers who might be interested in the role.

Everyone on our team has already been working so hard to get this film together - especially the producers and our art department - they're great.

Nelson gets here tomorrow morning - soon we'll be going around to all the locations and equipment houses.

Also had my first meeting/reading with Mei and Jian - I'm going to have a lot of fun working with them.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Benji





Benji just arrived last night and has already been entertaining the entire production team here with his mastery of Chinese. It's been great having him around.

Here are also a few more locations we're going to be shooting at. We're now 11 days away from the start of production.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Alleyways




Still looking for the alleyway/back of restaurant where we want to stage the (hopefully) most moving scene in the film. That location has to be sad, real sad.

Things are getting tight - we're just a little over 2 weeks from production. The first American crew member (Benji) arrives in just 2 days.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Jian, Mei, and a Noodle Stand





We have finally found our lead actors (Jian and Mei) - check them out.

Also, we locked one of our main locations - the noodle stand. It's situated in an actual nightmarket, so shooting there is going to be a mess, but worth it. We still have several locations to lock and have to cast the role of Lu, the noodle stand owner - but things are going pretty well.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Callbacks



We're really getting close to locking down some more locations. Here's a shot of a possible bridge/river bank we're considering shooting at. We should have the noodle stand (where at least 60% of the film takes place) locked down very soon.

We also have a round of callbacks tonight - so far there are several Meis and Jians I think are pretty great, we just have to see how they play against each other. I'm going to have them do some improvisation. They'll probably think I'm a jerk.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Salsa



I hang out here sometimes.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Sad Window



We're still trying to lock some key locations - the noodle stand and also the alleyway where we're staging the most crucial scene between Mei and Jian.

We're getting close to finding the leads - callbacks are later on this week. We only have a little under 3 weeks until production starts - it's getting pretty close.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Noodles





Here are some shots from a noodle stand we hope to get - the stand still needs a lot of art and dressing, but it has the type of space and look we're going for.

Here's also another shot from our production office - our team meets almost everyday, working full-time on casting and locations mostly.

We're doing another round of auditions this week and callbacks later in the week too. I've started to post casting notices for the American and Australian roles/tourists that will come through the stand. It's been fun getting in touch with some expat actors out here - everyone I've spoken to so far seems really cool and eager to help with the film.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Meis and Jians


Here is a shot in our production office/my apartment.

We did a lot of auditioning today, seeing more than 20 actors, mostly referred by friends and colleagues - some of them were pretty good and definitely worth seeing again in callbacks. I'm starting to get a lot more comfortable auditioning actors here. Still, my producer sometimes likes to preface an audition with this introduction: "This is the director, Arvin. He's from the US. He has trouble communicating in Chinese."

I've gotten a lot of support the last few days from friends I met working here years ago. There's no way I could make this film without their help.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Search for Mei




We've been working mostly on casting recently - I've been using the "American Audition" process with the actors, but thinking of action verbs and adjectives in Chinese has been a bit difficult. Luckily, my producers and casting assistants bail me out when I start to sound like an idiot.

Monday, February 06, 2006

The Taiwanese Mafia






The Chinese New Years break is over. We did a lot of scouting and casting today. These are photos of the nightmarket we are planning to shoot the opening of the film in, as well as some smaller alleyways. Unfortunately, this particular nightmarket is run by the local mafia, so we may have to pay a "convenience fee" in order to shoot there.

We also checked out a talent agency today to get in contact with some actors. In Taipei, modeling and acting are often intertwined, so a lot of the actors we're going to meet with this week are also ridiculously good looking. Should be interesting.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

New Apartment




This place will be a work and living space for our crew in preproduction. It's all kind of bohemian, as Benji would say. Notice the art gallery next door.