Just finished first day of shooting of a new music video. The band is DUDE, a western/Chinese band that covers pop music ranging from J-pop, Canto Pop and Celine Dion in punk versions. First day was shot at a live venue called 2-Kolegas, it’s situated within a drive-in cinema in Beijing. We shot during a mini music festival event, lot’s of free beer, mojito’s, bbq food and hippies. We used three cameras to cover the song, Canon 5D and Sony a33 & a55. The footage turned out good. Now the next day’s (hopefully not weeks) will be focused on shooting stop animation footage of a puppet that’s suppose to be behaving badly.
Some people just don’t want all the hassle that comes with fame. The other day I offered an amateur actor (who shall remain nameless) one of the leading roles in my upcoming movie Red Flag. The actor had dabbled a bit in Beijing expat theatre but otherwise he’s better known as a teacher and consultant to the bar they call First Floor. When I asked him if he’d consider the role he rejected me because his teaching job was more secure, the monthly salary was good and he had already signed up for a year. I offered him the equal to 6 months of teaching salary for an acting job that would take maximum 2 weeks to shoot, but no … he turned it all down, because “I want to honor my agreement with the school”. Well, shows that sometimes you can’t pick a random nobody from the street and make them a superstar overnight (as had always been my plan of course). So, instead I offered the role to a major international superstar, that most of you will know … I will keep you updated on who that is, once we’ve finalized the deal. Regarding the actor that decided on a teaching career, I’ve just learned that the school broke their agreement and he’s now looking for a job.
About time I introduced other players, as they say “Making movies is a collaboration”. So apart from me the director being on board, we’ve got various producers and writers so far. I won’t go into the writing credits yet as it’s a bit complicated and soap opera like right now, let’s just say there’s been 5 writers involved so far and I’m not agreeing on everybody’s level of credit to their level of input, I might once we’re further away from the script and closer to the shooting. So, this time I’ll introduce the producers. First off is our head producer in Iceland, Hlin Johannesdottir, she’s produced over 10 films, various co-productions with other countries included. She just came onboard a few weeks ago and is doing a great job so far. Our associate producers here in China are two, Clarence Hui from Hong Kong, who is mostly known as a music producer but has been involved with the HK film industry for more than 20 years, he also helped me with my second film A Man Like Me which was partly shot in Hong Kong. Clarence also wrote the classic Canto-Pop musical Gam Chi Yuk Sip which I suspect is loosely based on his own life. Lily Lee is our mainland associate producer, I know little of her background except that by the looks of it she’s got a lot of “Guanxi” as they say here in China. Finally there’s executive producer Jim Stark, who’s been helpful in many way’s since we started and has been closely following the project, he produced Mystery Train and Down by Law. I’ll be introducing the writers and actors very soon, followed by key crew.
Music is sometimes important in movies. It’s certainly important in Goodfellas and The Spaghetti Westerns, not so important in The China Syndrome or The Birds. I prefer to get a composer involved from the start, and ultimately would like to just give him the script and he composes the whole soundtrack without ever seeing the movie itself, as they did in Brokeback Mountain and Inception. That means that the aim is for the soundtrack to live on it’s own and not follow the feel or arch of individual scenes, therefore I could drop any of the music anywhere I want into my film. So far I’ve not worked with a composer this way, all three of my movies have been scored by composers having a rough edit close to the final stages of the film although the last soundtrack of a movie I made was a collaboration between a heavy metal band (Minus) and the composer, which did yield interesting results. This time I’m very much thinking of going the other way and have a composer involved from the start and preferably only composing with the script of Red Flag in mind. Therefore I’ve started to research music and references myself, because I’ve yet to decide on a composer. I’ve used two of the best Iceland has to offer in my previous films but there’s young composers both in Iceland and here in China doing good stuff also, I might go for the younger generation this time, not because they’ll write up some youngish sounding techno babble but just purely because you can get them to do a lot of stuff much cheaper 🙂 I am thinking of perhaps basing the whole soundtrack on traditional classic music, old Chinese classics that slowly turn into old Icelandic classics towards the end of the movie. So, been listening to a lot of light hearted romantic Chinese tunes with images of princesses and swans floating around and on the other hand heavy dark and bleak Icelandic music from similar periods, usually the image is starvation, volcanoes and bad weather. There’s certainly a contrast in style between the two nations.
We’re getting ready to fill up our in-movie sponsors list, thing’s like beer, whiskey, rice wine, cigarettes, mobile phones, cars and any old junk that appears within the movie. We’ve already secured our main car sponsor, but if you are or know somebody who’s got a product to flog then contact us for more information on how our main hero might use your product, whether it’s an imported wine or anything else … it might become cinematic legend in RED FLAG 😉