In 1998, this smash hit garnered S$5.8million. Then, it starred Jack Neo and his 2 all time cast - multi talented Mark Lee and Henry Thia. The movie clicked well with the audience on local theme (of basically not enough money) and it's inclusion of Hokkien in between.
With such a big success, it is no surprise that there is a sequel to the film. And like some mentioned - it's good time (on raising costs now).
10 years since the hit success, Jack Neo has much gone into directing and is now Singapore's most commercially successful director. His movies are known to subtly injected with political & current issues (eg. Malaysia-Singapore ties was widely used in the Homerun movie, and his latest Ah Long Pte Ltd played on Malaysian politics). He now has his own company, J Team Productions - which manages and train artistes, TV & film production and also does TVC.
The Call Up
I was called up a few days in advance for a full shoot day. Actually when we were called up, there was no mention as to what we were to do, or what movie we were to be in. All I knew that it was for Jack Neo's latest movie.
Having not acted in any movie before, and though this is really a small role (more like an extra), but I took this offer up for 2 reasons. One, it was for a movie - that sounds cool lol. But more importantly, it was with Jack Neo - I wanted to learn both on production and also on Jack Neo's directing/ advise.
This despite my hands being rather tied with the 50+1 Malaysia Book already.
I arrived at 8am to an old school which is going to be refurbished. There were already a group of youngsters mainly teenagers. But there were also a few more senior members. A little too early, and we were told to go for breakfast and come back later.
We continued to wait a little for the production crew to start. All the while still don't know what are we to do yet.
Then we were asked to be protesters against the ERP (for those not in Singapore, the ERP is like a toll system to ease traffic flow into the city - where vehicle owners will have to pay before entry). We were divided into 3 teams. And our voice were recorded saying 'No ERP!'. These were done at the school compound.
Next we were asked to go upstairs. It was there that I was quite awed with what I saw. It was a huge green panel - which means this movie is using the Green (some call Blue) Screen technique. The whole day was spent on us marching in groups and sometimes all together.
We were joined by another fresh group of people later - to add to the multi racial theme of the movie. There were breaks in between, but by midway a lot of us were tired from the continuous shouting of 'No! E.R.P!'
Another highlight for me on that day was to see the mock up ERP gates. We filmed carrying it around - rather carefully, as it was not fully secured at its ends. And there was a scene which we had to take - us literally pushing the ERP gates down (apparently the sea or the river scene will be added). Lots of cordination were needed for this as we thought it would be a one time thing - ie. when it collapse, that's it!
Well, were we wrong! It was stable. And very solid. So, goes the shoot and re-shoot of the scenes by different groups, sometimes by all once again. And from different angles as well.
The tired faces of the many extras were seen especially when it was already dark outside. But one final task - to record another sound from us - us shouting & screaming happily when the ERP gates fall.
It was only after then that we signed the talent release form.. and on it it states for MNE2. No guessing it was for Money No Enough 2!
What I Learnt
1. Production takes a lot of time & effort. It reminds me of the time we did the 3 day shoot for my previous project - the Batik Inspirations book. Already then it took so much time, not to mention the post production. And for a feature movie, there is much more cordination and filming days.
2. Green/ Blue screen is the way to go - because shooting can continue despite the bad weather outside. And the director can then multiply the people to create a LOTR effect.
3. The more cameras the better - that will save time as there won't then be a need to retake the same scene and actions from the same angle. However, a point to note is that this may increase costs - in equipment and cameraman.
4. For the actors: act like it's real - even if it's a small role or a short scene. As an actor (big or small), this project still relies on us as it can affect the flow of the movie.
5. Get good crew to build the props. Like for the ERP prop, we do retakes over and over again because it was hardy enough to be re-enected and be 'thrown' again and again. Balance between hardiness and budget is important here.
For the pay, it is really 'money no enough'. But hey, I don't think anyone's complaining because although it may not seem so cool on set, but Im sure when the movie is out, all of us would be trying to see where were we in the movie (if they don't cut us out! lol).
And the lessons learnt - invaluable.