On 5th April 2012, at the stroke of 5.06pm, I tweeted to the world:
It is finished.
It was a reference to Jesus' utterance as he died on the cross (John 19:30), as well as sheer relief at completing my biggest film-making project yet.
What was it? It was somewhat of a dream come true - a short film for my church's Good Friday service this year. Instead of routine sketches or song performances, I boldly suggested that this year we should try doing a short film because:
a) It would be something new.
b) We would be able to easily view it again and share with others.
c) It would allow participation even from people who couldn't attend or weren't free for rehearsals.
And because the Youth Department was in charge of the service this year, I could make it happen!
And happen it did. The theme was something very close to my heart - restoring passion to a jaded, going-through-the-motions church. In a divinely inspired moment, it occurred to base it on the church of Laodicea mentioned in Revelation (the last book of the Bible).
“To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:
These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.
At that time though, I wasn't sure how to execute it. It felt more like a theme for the service. I pictured welcoming the congregation to this mock church called 'Lao' ('old' in Chinese) Church and mimic the lukewarm Laodiceans in our service. But that was definitely too radical.
True to my style, the idea was put on hold until time drew too close and we had to start shooting. I was still toying with another script idea focusing on a girl who stopped attending church. But, nah...I stuck to the original Lao Church plot and centred it around them organising a Good Friday service - a case of art imitating life? I've actually always been a fan of plots building up to an event climax. They generally make the story faster-paced and more suspenseful.
One week before shooting, I sat down and went through the script with the talented Miss Evie who was doubling as assistant director and lead actress. I watched in awe as she instantly made some very practical improvements, plus providing me with a much better ending. I think that was when I started to fall in love with...the art of film-making. Period.
Shooting took place over one weekend, albeit quite rushed. I was extremely blessed to also have the help of Ju Yuan, another brilliant director/cinematographer. All I needed to do was brief the actors on their lines, briefly describe the scene and...voila! Magic would take place.
Editing took much longer than anything I had ever experienced. Mostly because my aging laptop was very, very slow. I could only move two frames before waiting one minute for it to load. For more than a week, editing became a round-the-clock obsession. Sometimes even I scared myself with my enthusiasm.
Scene by scene I pieced it together, replaying anything I had completed countless times to spot any flaws. I just couldn't wait for the whole thing to be completed. Even the subtitles were created using a special software that enabled outlines around them. Previously with Windows Movie Maker, they tended to fade into the background when it wasn't contrasted enough. A masterpiece in the making, baybeh!
After the service, we received oodles of good feedback regarding the short film. It was funny, meaningful, touching, stirring, brilliant all at once! I was super proud of it, by far my most complete work of art.
So imagine my disappointed when I was informed that due to certain reasons, I could not upload the short film, its trailer or bloopers video onto Youtube.
I did pour in many, many hours into it. So it's understandable that I'm miffed.
I guess it's a good lesson in humility and submission for me. I'll never forget some lessons in my past when I secretly and selfishly disobeyed some people. When I was eventually outed, I paid very heavy prices.
"Don't worry," I tell myself. "You'll get to do bigger and better productions in the future! This will be nothing compared to those. Use your gifts to bless others, not to build up your own kingdom!"
All rightey then!
For now, you can drop me a comment if you want to watch the short film.
"Think About His Love"
A comfortable church.
A spirited girl.
A celebration for the ages.
For Carmen and her church, Good Friday 2012 was one day that they would never forget.