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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Enlightenment Guaranteed

This is a film screened by the Buddhist library on the 18th February 2012.
"Enlightenment Guaranteed" is a light comedy about two lost souls finding their way to a Zen monastery to rediscover themselves.

In the film, the two brothers are lost in Tokyo, but as it turned out, became an opportunity and experience for both of them to bond and understand each other. So, a seemingly adverse situation being lost in what was an outlandish city like Tokyo to them, turned out to be a blessing.  The secret here is to learn from the trouble itself.

The two brothers are contrasting characters: One who hasn't meditated before and another who meditates regularly, but it ended up that the one who hasn't meditated adjusted better to the strict and grueling monastery life. As the one who meditates regularly, took everything overly seriously and attempted to look for perfection in everything, leading to much psychological hardships during the retreat. Whereas, the brother who did not meditate before took in everything in his stride. Everything to him seems fine. Nothing worried him much.

Similarly, when we meditate, we do not look for perfection, but to go with the flow.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Kid's Play - Enterprise

There is this trusting little girl who never locked her school locker. Nothing had been lost, until one day when she left some sweets in it. The sweets disappeared, but some money was left there, presumably, by the taker.

Curious, she again left sweets in the locker, and then again found some money left there the next day, apparently in exchange for the sweets. 

Amazed, she repeated the process, but this time , leaving more sweets there, and voila, she found more money left in her locker.

She then thought this could become a business and bought more sweets to leave them in her locker, and true enough,  money flowed in and a business quickly flourished. Her locker soon became the popular de-facto candy store.

Then came a new student from a financially poor family who needed money. Realising that, she transferred her business to the new student and even bought the new stock.

And so, a social enterprise and micro-economy is born.

For more posts on Kid's Play, click here.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Remembering Chang Yew Kee

Two days ago, an old friend, Chang Yew Kee, died of a heart attack in his sleep. He was only 49. We were old Polytechnic friends and didn't get to meet after my departure from Singapore, and then we lost contact of each other soon after. 

During our Poly days, we were members of the Welfare Services Club. Then, we served the underprivileged in the Homes every weekend. It was also during this time that I learned the concept of the Buddhist espoused 'Cause-and-Effect' philosophy from Yew Kee. He also told me that he often pondered about the Buddhist ideal of ridding oneself of all desires, and that he would probably not be able to do so completely. This is something I ponder deeply myself too, till this day. 

It is important to treasure friends and express gratitude to them when they are still around. Truly, we don't know what comes next and when our time is up in this human incarnation. That is why I live everyday as if it is my last. I think it is better this way.

Lastly, I would like to take this chance to say a big 'thank you' to all my friends. Thank you for just for being my friend. 

 (Belated) Happy Valentine's Day!

Rest in Peace Yew Kee!

ps. Yew Kee has a Christian wake. I heard from his family that he converted to Christianity in the year 2000.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Kid's Play - Acting

It takes longer to act with kids, as their cooperation depends on their moods, and if you happened to hit on their lows, then your production will be stuck there for a while.

I was acting with a kid two days ago, in a scene which the kid character was supposed to have just gotten a severe scolding from me and that he was to sulk and to look miserable. However, he didn't play to instruction, and was instead, cheerful and restless. There were two ways for us to proceed: One, which was to scold him and make him really miserable (on and off-reel); or the second option, which is to persuade him.

We went for the second option, as we didn't want to run into the risk of putting him off acting permanently.

So the persuasion went:

Director: Imagine your teacher gave you a big scolding and you are now so sad.
Boy: But she didn't.

Director: Imagine if your most favourite toy is broken and you can no longer play with it! Forever!!!
Boy: But it is not!

Director: Ok, let's play a game. If you do what we tell you to do later, you will get a chocolate cake.
Boy: Ok.

Then we went for the shoot, but it still didn't quite work. He was still moving around and not looking sad at all.

So, the persuasion continued:
Director: Who else wants to play the game? But only the best person can get the chocolate cake as there is only one chocolate cake!

Everyone in the set quickly raised their hands. The boy then went into the set and performed!!! He saw competition! :)

For other articles on Kid's Play, click here.

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Friday, February 03, 2012

A Tale of Two Film Schools

I know of two film schools: School A and School B. 

In School A, the teachers deliberately mock their students' scripts and challenges them to substantiate or illustrate their story. The teachers expect the students to be able to stand up for themselves and defend their script. These teachers do not believe there is such thing as a ridiculous story (no matter how outlandish the students cut their story out to be), but whether it is one that is properly researched, structured, substantiated, depicted,...etc. They do not go along the directions of whether there is a 'right' or 'wrong' answer to the script, but only scripts that are well or poorly substantiated.

In School B, the teachers on the other hand, correct the the students' scripts, pointing to them what is wrong with their script and what needs to be corrected, what needs to be there in place and how to do it. The teachers get annoyed if the students think that they know better and argue against the teachers' suggestions. Teachers here believe that with their prior training, experience and maturity, they know better and that these young upstarts are merely wasting their time going one big round arriving at the  same 'right' answers.

For instance, in School B the teachers may comment that to play the role of a detective, the actor must look the part, ie. strong willed, lean, a good body gait, and other stereotype traits of how a detective should look like; and the students are supposed to cast an actor that looks like that.

In School A, the teachers will not change the student's choice of the actor, but will ask how the students are going to make that actor come up alive and feels like a real detective.

[Note: There are indeed examples of  untypical looking detectives in Hollywood, like Detective Theo Kojak in Kojak (who is wheelchair bound) and Jessica Fletcher, who looks more like a loving grandmother,  in 'Murder She Wrote'.]

In School A, students are assessed according to their final product, but also on their ability to defend their ideas and scripts. The final script may still appear to be ridiculous but yet well substantiated and described - that is, one that is able to convince the audience possibly of an unusual but interesting story. 

In School B, students are assessed according to their final product based on how they have corrected them according to their teachers' guidance. Errant students who refused to follow the guidance are  penalised.

There is no telling which one of these two schools come up with better scripts that win awards.

Which one do you think wins?

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