I have always enjoyed watching movies and having long been inspired by the on set photography work of the late Mary Ellen Mark, one of my dreams has always been to be able to do Behind the Scenes or BTS photography for movies. This dream came true last year when I was the BTS photographer for my filmmaker cousin Wee Li Lin’s short film CP Kidz or Centerpoint Kidz. The short film is part of the Singapore Memory Project.
The following is the plot outline of CP Kidz: “It is 1985, Singapore. Meishi (Meishi Koon) a lonely 16 year old school girl desperately wants to be part of a group and be cool. She feels that she sticks out, she’s too tall and plays the tuba in the school band. She lives alone with her strict father (Charlie Tan) who’s nursing a broken heart as Meishi’s mother left them for an Australian sailor. Meishi follows her cousin Elaine (Amelia Ang) who’s part of a cool mall gang clique (CP KidZ) and tries to infiltrate in. But the gang leader Zach (Keegan Tyler Chong) thinks Meishi is just not cool enough. There is a big dance off between rival gangs CP KidZ and Loverboys coming up and Meishi endeavours to do well during the dance off to prove her worth into CP KidZ. Elaine volunteers to help her but when Meishi’s father finds out he plans to put a stop to it. He does not want Meishi to turn wild like her mother and ruin her life.”
I must admit that on the first day of filming, I turned up quite unaware of what goes into making a movie. I did not know what the film was about, had no idea who the actors were or what the various people who were involved with the making of the movie did. I had to learn on the job. My approach was basically modified from the way that I shoot weddings – be as inconspicuous as possible, stay out everyone’s way, be creative and have fun. The whole crew and cast were very gracious to having a greenhorn like me around and the whole experience was a very pleasant introduction to what goes on Behind the Scenes.
I think a BTS photographer is at the bottom end of the food chain out of all the people (director, producer, director of photography, gaffer, grips, sound engineer, production assistants, etc) involved during the making of a movie. You do not need a BTS photographer to get a movie done. Nonetheless, I feel that the significance of my work comes from creating a photographic document for the cast and crew. One that upon viewing brings back a rush of memories from the days spent filming the movie. It is a tribute to the actors and actresses seen on screen and especially to the hard working crew that works tirelessly behind the scenes.
Since doing the BTS photography for CP Kidz, I have had the wonderful privilege of being the BTS photographer for another 2 of Li Lin’s film projects. There are always some familiar faces on the subsequent BTS shoots in the crew and I think I have learnt more, evolved and adapted better to the whole genre of BTS photography.
As part of the “Rewind/Remind – A Film Festival by the Singapore Memory Project“, there are a couple more screenings of CP Kidz till the end of July 2015 and you can check out the screening schedule HERE.