Realiti on YouTubeThanks to artyfeelhoneyme, who left a comment about this below, I now know that you can find episodes of Realiti on YouTube. For example, if you are able to search here and here, and are patient enough to wait for the thing to load, and then willing to watch it as a small-sized version with slightly less than average sound quality, and to repeat it three or four times for each episode... hell, you can watch Realiti on the net.
The truth is, I don't think Ping quite imagined that people would be enjoying the show like this. I remember how much he fussed (and me too, actually) when he found out that when TV3 were broadcasting Table for Two in mono, when he had laboriously hard-crafted a stereo soundtrack. (For Realiti, he has simply lowered the bar of expectation to tripping-over point by supplying 8TV only mono versions of the episodes.)
I mean, lets face it. YouTube is not where you go when you want to watch high-quality picture video. And only if you have enough bandwidth. But, yeah, I get it. It's the only place people who can't get 8TV on Sunday nights can go to. They have no choice. And yet there are those who still wait to download and watch it. I am impressed.
And more. I think that the profit-making point for DVDs of TV shows is very low: somewhere in the region of a thousand discs (I'm talking about legal copies here, selling for forty or fifty ringgit a disc). Somebody just needs to be persuaded that there's a market out there for this. However, I think that Popiah Pictures doesn't have the final say, because the rights pretty much belong to 8TV. But money persuades, right?
If Realiti goes to DVD, we're talking about people being able to enjoy an even better version of the show than what you see on TV. In proper letterbox format. With no censorship. With extras (imagine: full versions of the kids' performances on stage, Baby in full flirty glory).
In stereo, even.
I am a huge fan of One Tree Hill and The O.C, AND I think that Realiti could almost rival those international tv shows! Way to go!
So yeah, I would DEFINITELY buy! ;)
As for the DVD (or even just the soundtrack), my advice is to drop a line to 8TV and say you'd buy one if they released it. If you ask enough times, I'm sure they'd actually go through with it!
Help, please. All recommend this program to effectively advertise on the Internet, this is the best program!
Forums that discuss RealitiOne of the comments I received asked which forums do I stalk to find out what people think about Realiti. Well:
- The Cari forum: http://forum.cari.com.my/viewthread.php?tid=233907&extra=page%3D1&page=1
- The discussion on bluehyppo: http://messageboard.bluehyppo.com/viewtopic.php?t=31110&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=0
- A short one on Lowyat.net: http://forum.lowyat.net/index.php?showtopic=338825&st=0
- An even shorter one on the 8TV forums: http://www.8tv.com.my/english/forum03.asp?fg_id=1&fo_id=1&ft_id=4929
I have been told that I should stop browsing through these forums. It seems the comments given on them are dubious, and I don't want to end up so hooked on them that I start refreshing the darn things every 20 minutes to see if there are new comments, but... hey, I feel like it's partly my baby (or at least, godson), and I care what people think.
Realiti - Episode 4 notesSorry if some of you think this is a little late, I have classes to teach this week. Anyway, here are the notes, and some pics. Enjoy.
(This episode on YouTube: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
- "Sebelum ini dalam Realiti...". Ashraf says this before this week's episode begins. I think every week has somebody different saying it.
- This episode is written by Kartini Ariffin, of 3R fame. She's also written a few episodes for Impian Illyana.
- This is my least favourite episode in the entire series. For me, the main story (Amir running back to kampung) just doesn't really do anything. On top of that, it's hard to really see the theme in the episode. It would have been an opportunity to explore surface image vs what we think underneath, but it didn't turn out that way.
- The business about gaining weight at the buffet is based on real life. You eat buffets every day, of course some of the kids are going to gain a little weight.
- I remember discussing with Ping how Amir would run back to the kampung. At first, Ping was reluctant to follow him all the way back, simply because it was an additional location and costs. I had a storyline where Mac confronts him in Pudu bus station, but Ping wasn't happy with that. The other problem was trying to figure out why he wanted to stay in the competition. I don't think that bit was ever really solved. We sort of have this idea that it's because his mother gives him the push, because his father was a great musician, but then gave it up. I don't quite get it, though. Originally, this storyline was meant to extend until the end of the season, but I think we both agreed it didn't have the legs to take through. Hence, the introduction of a new storyline for Amir later...
- On some of the forums, there have been comparisons between Amir and Mawi based on the fact he's engaged to Dayang and then breaks off with her, and that he comes from the kampung. As far as I am concerned, this wasn't entirely intentional. We did want the popular kampung boy, primarily as an antithesis to Baby, and we did want to explore what does being popular mean. But I primarily had Faizal in mind of a lot of these themes.
- Amir was always meant to be from Kedah. Notice that his accent doesn't keep up throughout the whole show, but when he talks to Jay, it reemerges. I could sort of explain this by saying that after being in KL for so long, he knows he has to keep the accent down in day-to-day conversation. But I wish now that I made it reemerge when he was upset or excited.
- Jay was a character we came up with relatively late in the series. In fact, I think I came up with him in order to write episode 7, and then he sort of spread from there (could be wrong, must check emails to find out). We needed a contrast to Mac, somebody in the industry who focussed on things that Mac didn't care for. Glamour. Popularity. Image. For Jay, the music is the lowest thing on the list.
- Naz Rahman is an excellent choice for Jay. I'm happy about that casting.
- That whole "One flush yes, two flush no" conversation Burn has with Melody; that was Ping's work entirely, and I didn't really like it. Sounds a little cheesy. But maybe Melody likes cheese. In large creamy blocks.
- It was mentioned somewhere that Alvin said that Nickson was based on Daniel MI2. Perhaps that's where Alvin drew his inspiration from, but I was thinking of other people. There were guys in MI2 and AF who leant towards the feminine side, and the judges kept telling them to be more manly. I didn't really get that, because you're always told to 'be yourself' when you perform. I imagined that these guys would be torn inside on what they should do. Anyway, for me, that's where Nickson came from.
- The song that Melody is inspired by is Quizzical by Juliet The Orange. I like the song, but it's not my choice for Melody's song by a long way. I would have picked something slower, less quirky.
- That exchange between Baby and the photography, where she asks what needs to be done to get the other 50%, is a little sleezy to me. It would have been slightly better if the photographer had just asked "How about dinner?" at the end of all that. Then, we could get all sleazoid later, right?
- But crossing that Juliet the Orange song with Baby's willingness to give in to the photographer, pure genius.
- That line that Burn says, "All I need is the girl"? Ping says: "Classic". Dzof says: "Chedder central".
- Amir serenades his family with Widuri by the great Broery Marantika. And, yes, it's really Azizan singing.
- The reaction on the forums to that whole Baby sleeping with the photographer plot has surprised me. Mainly, it's because people are asking, "really, ah, people sleep with other people just to get on the magazine cover?". Well, despite what you might think of Malaysians, there's an awful lot of extra-marital sex going on in KL. And Baby is super-ambitious. So, it isn't so far-fetched, right?
- Okay, here is the scene that makes me cringe. It's the part where Amir's mum explains to him that his father gave up on his dream to be a muscian, so Amir must carry on with the competition. Not good enough for me. My original suggestion was that the music made his father regain some of his memory, and then the father tells him that he's really good and should carry on with the competition. Don't really know why that idea was nixed.
- So, Amir comes back, and what has really changed? At the moment, only Dayang's relationship with Amir. In hindsight, I think it might have been good to have increased his popularity with the Malaysian Star voters as a result of his actions as well. It's about the competition, right?
- Argh! You know what really makes me mad? The 'Minggu Depan' segment pretty much tells the story for the whole episode. That sucks, big time. But I think it's a good episode, so watch it.
Realiti. 10pm Sundays on 8TV, starring Azizan Nin, Ashraf Sinclair, Melissa Maureen, Alvin Wong, Chelsia Ng, Radhi Khalid. With Juliana Ibrahim, Maria Farida, Lydia Ibtisam. What would you do to become a star?
-I like the 1 flush means yes line.
-I dont think all i need is the girl -line cheesy...girls dig it ma.
-The song Melody feels sexy in?? err...Not sexy..
-Naz is a perfect Jay.
dzof.org was down (but now up!)Some of you might have noticed that dzof.org was down over the weekend and that visitors were encouraged to register domain names and to buy land. Like Juliana asked: "How come, Dzof, you now into real estate, ah?".
I very sheepishly must admit that it was because somebody-who-shall-remain-unnamed had not renewed the domain in time. In my defence, that was because my contact email had changed and I hadn't updated the registrar.
However, it's up again, it's rocking again, and I hope that it'll stay up and rocking.
Realiti - Episode 3 notesOkay for those of you who complained that I hadn't gotten episode 3 notes up quickly enough (you know who you are), I just want you to know that there is a reason for it. The bulk of this week's episode notes come from Razlina Ramli, the writer for this week's epsiode. However, even with the magic of email, it takes time for notes to travel across the ether.
Anyway, if you like this week's episode and want to be able to write like that, you can actually learn how to do so from Raz. She teaches creative writing at 95% Trainings. Yes, a free plug, but I like her.
(This episode on YouTube: Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
I haven't been able to keep completely quiet though. The notes in italics are mine, everything else comes from Raz.
- What did I like about the show? Baby fitted her role and so did Melody.
- What I did not like about the show? When I saw the scene in a rehearsal hall/ room. And I was kind of ‘Oh…interesting…ok not bad.
- When Melody had her first come back line to Burn’s sniggering about her not looking the type who would like Gwen Stefani, I thought there would be enough sexual tension to get everyone to sit up and wonder and look at Melody for another point of view. Something along the line of “hey this girl has claws and she knows how to use them”. However on screen, the chemistry between them was not there. She didn’t bring out the claws. She didn’t even show her claws. She merely said the words. I guess, when I wrote it, I saw someone who was able to show others that she has claws and that she knows how to use it, so watch out. I guess I thought she would be sarcastic enough for Burn to feel the scratch. Burn reacted yeah but … I still feel it lacked the punch. I watched it with my 20 year old cousin and my mom and both of them agree that that scene was not punchy enough. I heard Ping did his best to bring out the bitch in Melody. It was not too bad but I would’ve loved it had she said it like she really meant it.
- I like what Ping did with the scene between Wahida and Amir. He improved my script by having it shown and not tell. Yes, so sometimes I get caught by telling and not showing.
- I was looking forward to it. Amir did fine but somehow I felt Wahida was not as inquisitive and nosy as I had imagined her to be. But then again that’s the director’s prerogative. In the script, when Wahida asked about Amir’s parents he reacted and said ok… the usual answer he gives Wahida to all of her questions. But in the scene there was a visual before he answered and I found it slow. Maybe again because the director thought it was so under run that he wanted to prolonged that particular part.
- The next scene Ping had Dayang coming from the opposite direction, passing and ignoring Amir in the corridor of the hotel which I thought was great but on screen I saw them pushing the cart together and I felt the impact was kind of lost. I like it went they flirted with each other it was kind of cute, where she commented that he was already famous and how he was beginning to ignore her but here it showed them together and none of it came out. Which is a pity cause it was a nice set up for what was to happen next in their relationship.
- Must say again, props to Lydia in her role as Dayang in this episode.
- Oh another thing, I wrote Dayang as a Sarawakian girl and I think Lydia is playing Dayang as a Semenanjung girl… which is okay. I just liked to hear the Sarawkian accent on screen.
- I guess the script was really under run when they showed Burn going up to the roof and punching the bag and sweating it out. Cause in mine it showed Burn already punching the bag and was drenching in sweats with an earphone firmly stuck in his ears. That to me showed that he has a lone wolf and not the type to go out and happy happy kind of fellow to help anyone. And that later on, on the way back to his room, he sees Melody rehearsing with her ogre dad and you see that he, of all people, felt pity for her. It is a big thing that Burn can actually feel for someone, because all this while, he has shown that he can’t be bothered with other peoples feelings. It was kind of a romantic scene without being all mushy and gooey, but I didn’t get that. I saw Burn passing by, stopping and looking and then there was nothing. Ahhhh…. What happened to my romantic scene? Was it all in my head?? Apparently so.
- The song that Melody sings is White Roses. Composed and originally sung by Douglas Lim on his and Chelsia's album Indecisive. Good luck finding a copy. If you really want one, go and pester 8TV to release it as a download.
- Oh the other thing, I know Ping hates it when I put accents into the characters’ voices. Of course it adds colour but I guess if they can’t do it, it's better to be without it. I guess that’s why in my script Dayang had an accent and Wahida puts on different accents depending on whom she’s talking to. In the script, whenever Wahida talks to people from the north she adopts a northern accent – for me it was her way of establishing the relationship and getting people to be at ease when she starts prodding into their lives and also how she gets people to do things for her quite easily. In the show Wahida is accentless which I felt oohhh…. It lost the character in her.
- I had one scene with Amir coming back home tired and was about to sleep when he saw a breakfast order slip on his pillow. It was from Burn. I really liked that. It so Burn to rile people up.
However I didn’t see that part.(The scene was there)
- There was also some flirtatious / romantic scenes between Dayang and Amir that Ping had inserted in in the original script. Nickson, Amir and Burn were walking along the corridor and they bumped into Dayang. Dayang smiled, Amir did not smile until she was out of his view. But what I liked most about that scene was Burn noticed that there is something between the two. Which is great for the upcoming episodes.
- There was a scene where we see the girls coming out of the lift, with Baby wearing really a short skirt that reveals her legs and Melody looking insipid as usual. It showed me their personalities as they approached the meet the fan session. Didn’t see that in the final product.
Photos courtesy of Popiah Pictures and Chelsia Ng.
- Due to budget constraints, the show unfortunately does not truly replicate how chaotic and crazy fans get when they meet reality show contestants. Instead of tens of fans, think hundreds, more than a thousand. Instead of polite chit-chat, think screaming, and the occasional faint. And the business about asking for phone numbers? Happens all the time.
- Some of the fans are quite famous in their own right. Cindy's mum is played by Soefira Jaafar, well established stage actress. The girl flirting with Burn is January Low, who won Best Solo Performer (Dance) at the 2003 Boh Cameronian Arts Awards. I believe this is her TV acting debut.
- Okay now to Ben. I wrote him to be 30 something distinguish looking suave, debonair. I saw him on screen and I saw... The guy playing the character Ben, did not fit into what I wrote Ben as. I had written as suave and man about town, man with money and power. At least I thought so. However when I saw Ben on the screen, my mouth dropped. He looks like a character out of one of Naguib Mahfouz’s books. In fact what I see in my head as I write, is this character who works at a lonely petrol station out in the dessert in the middle of nowhere. He had a silly grin and looked oily and not at all a sight for sore eyes when you’ve been traveling for miles looking at nothing but the sand. Okay back to Ben. It makes me feel that Baby has bad taste to have ever had wanted him or had an affair with him. I am not sure why she was taken by this fellow. Perhaps it was money.
- I liked it that before this episode, no one thought of Nickson being gay. But as soon as Calvin appeared both my mom and cousin went, "Oh he is gay." Before this scene, they may have thought about it but may consider him to be effeminate and if they had thought of him to be gay, they had dismissed it altogether. So I really liked that part. I think Dzof and Ping liked too. A nice show not tell. Didn’t have to wait for mummy to call and say that the photograph could mislead people into thinking that he is gay/ effeminate.
- The thing that kept going through my mind about the Nickson storyline was, what would have happened to Daniel (of Malaysian Idol 2) if he had suddenly said he was gay? It might have been disastrous, but then again, it might have made him even more popular.
- Burn’s street wise/ smart-lone wolf guy comes across as a spoilt rich boy. There’s not enough edge. Okay, so that’s my point of view. But if he was a tight-lipped, scowling lone wolf, I think the girls will like him more. Girls just like bad boys and Burn’s bad boy is a city urban bad boy.
- What I really like, was that Burn and Melody’s scene on the ledge of the building. I thought that was a really cool scene. Both of them basking in the glow of the night and sharing some time together. Mine was boring; it was just at the pool area. (I agree, freaking awesome visual.)
- When Burn was drunk, and Amir and Nickson had saved him, in the final scene we see Amir had thrown both Nickson and Burn in a storeroom. However, in my script I or Ping had them inside the pushcart trolley, which I thought was cute. Seeing two men squeezed in a tightly enclosed space. I was thinking hey, is Nickson going to do anything here?
- My only other comment is the ending. It didn’t give me the tang tang tang. Oh me gawd he ran away?? ? It was kind of lembik. And even I was thinking, eh, so what la he ran away. The tension was kind of missing, maybe my writing was not strong enough, maybe the tension was all in my head. Hmm, looks like it.
- The traffic noise is a bit too distracting. It got me thinking, hey way up there and the noise of the traffic is still apparent. And at some places the echo sound of the room was not what I would be rah rah for.
Realiti. 10pm Sundays on 8TV, starring Azizan Nin, Ashraf Sinclair, Melissa Maureen, Alvin Wong, Chelsia Ng, Radhi Khalid. With Juliana Ibrahim, Maria Farida, Lydia Ibtisam, Gambit, Kee Thuan Chye, Nell Ng. Guest appearances by Mazin Siraj, January Low, Maimon Mutallib, Abu Bakar Juah, Natasha Saeed Megad, Soefira Jaafar, Cheyenne Stutzriem. What would you do to become a star?
Negative reviews for Episode 2The chatter on the boards for episode 2 is that it is a little boring, presumably not as good as episode 1. This, naturally, is a little disappointing, especially since I thought it was quite okay. I wasn't expecting "great", but to get "bosan" and "merepek" is a blow to the ego.
I suppose, in hindsight, what looks to be the main storyline takes a while to wrap up - but there are other stories as well. Hmm. Must get some distance and watch it again in a few week's time to try and see what could have been improved.
It's Tuesday now and I'm sure I'm not the only one who is waiting for your Ep3 post. What's taking you so long!?
Realiti - Episode 2 notesThis episode, I wrote. Or, at least, my name is on the writing credits. To be honest, every episode written goes under Ping's scrutinous eye and he usually ends up re-writing various scenes. Even then, there are changes between the final draft and what goes on screen. On the whole I am fairly happy with the episode, and I think it's pretty okay. Not the best I can do, and not the best in the series, but okay-lah.
Of course, spoilers abound, so take care if you haven't seen the show yet. (This episode on YouTube: Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
- You can take a look at the latest version of the script of episode 2 that I happen to have. This is the final draft script, but probably not the shooting script. If you are keen enough to compare, you'll see plenty of changes between this draft and the final version that appears on the screen. Also, the script has a lot of dual-language dialogue. This is partly because the series was going to be bilingual and we weren't always sure which character would speak in which language, and also because we didn't want to lose things in translation.
- One reason that I think this episode could be better is because it gets its themes mixed up. What is the story about? Originally, it was about being yourself versus being what other people want you to be. However, over time, we put in Melody's story and Burn's story changed (I think), and that theme wasn't reinforced with those two stories. If I had to do it all over again, I would tweak the theme slightly to "It's good to be who you are, but only if you recognise your strengths and weaknesses". But say it in a snappier way, of course.
- The original theme is very clear in the storyline about singing the song in your style and in Amir's storyline where he tries to sing in English to impress the judges. To put it all in perspective, the kids learn how important putting a good image is when they talk to Wahida. One story says it's good to broaden your horizons, and the counter-theme is "don't be who you're not". The idea for this came from the fact that budding stars are always encouraged to potray an image, but I don't think everyone really understands what that's all about. Some think it's about looking pretty and palatable, but I think if you don't at least partially portray yourself, it'll bite you in the end. Have a clear, suitable image can also help you find a focus for yourself. In this story, Mac tells the kids that they should explore other styles to improve themselves, and the kids don't get that at first.
- On hindsight, the first singer who tries out on Pop TV should have sung the verse well and only then massacred the chorus. Or been funnier.
- Juliana pretty much ad-libs all her dialogue as the Pop TV host. Buat susah je ku tulis dialogue. Next time, don't want to write any dialogue for her anymore-lah. Okaylah, Reefa adlibs his stuff a lot too, and Ashraf quite a lot too. And, to be fair, they make it better most of the time. Most.
- The theme song in the credits is Scarecrow Adams by Disagree. And a very beautiful-looking credit sequence it is too. Really makes you want to watch the show, I think. You can also buy the song from musiccanteen.com.
- Woohoo! My name (finally) is not obscured by subtitles. If this is the only thing that I liked in this episode, then it's worth it.
- I think I considered expanding the whole Nickson-is-not-manly-enough storyline in this episode, but too many stories as it is, so we ditched the idea early on.
- Lydia really did not like her dialogue between Dayang and Amir where Amir casually says out loud he will marry her next year. "Eh... geli," she said.
- That conversation between four of them at dinner - very casual, very jokey. I had written one or two more scenes like that throughout the series, but they were either cut or I never really just tried to push them. Shame, it would have lightened the mood in the more serious episodes.
- Melody's tells Wahida that she and her father have been preparing for the competition for a year. This line was inspired by one of the contestants in Malaysian Idol who saw Jac win the competition and then vowed to win it for themselves the next year. For a whole year, every decision in his/her life was made in order to win the competition. I don't know if this person has told the world this or not, but it's true. This competition can take over people's lives.
- Mac goes on quite a bit about the styles, right? I could have cut thirty seconds out. Not needed.
- "Whatever, man". I almost always have a character saying "whatever" in my scripts. Don't know why. I have it three or four times in this one. Another one is "belum cuba, belum tahu".
- The judges that see Amir are Fly Guy, Bernie Chan and Carmen Soo, credited with original names such as Judge 1, Judge 2 and Judge 3.
- Amir's audition song is Bob Dylan's classic Knocking on Heaven's Door. It was either going to be that or Bring Your Daughter to the Slaughter.
- The Amir audition scene isn't quite what I had thought of. I expected him to be more nervous, compounded with singing in English. The "I can also dance" line was meant to be a bombshell he drops after three or four seconds of silence. Nervous funny, not desperate.
- I love the Amir/Dayang fight scene on the roof. Look at it carefully. It's a hand-held shot, practically no cuts, high-intensity, scene. It doesn't break the tension between the two characters. And it's great acting. I think so, anyway.
- The whole Baby-gets-her-own-room storyline was Ping's idea. I wasn't such a big fan of it, but it's okay-lah.
- The Baby/Wahida conversation was entirely Ping, I think. It's quite good.
- I wanted in this episode to show how strong Amir and Dayang's relationship is. Because later, you know, it all just... erm... watch the series-lah.
- I'm surprised that "screw" is worthy of censorship. "Screw up", "Screw you", "Don't screw with me", all these got silenced out on 8TV.
- One problem with the idea of Baby staying in the rehearsal hall, though. Burn also goes into the rehearsal hall to practice at night, but he doesn't bump into Baby? A scene was cut out because of time, you see. Baby comes back to her room (after spending a night in the rehearsal hall) and finds that the cupboard is full of Melody's clothes. Melody, of course, says "That cupboard's mine. Go find your own."
- Melody's confrontation with her dad. I like it a lot. And it's not very well written, either!
- Amir's song shown on Pop TV: Venusia by OAG. Between that and Akustatik, Amir is clearly an OAG fan.
- So, Melody is on drugs. And I kind of fought that idea for a long time. I was afraid it might turn all Drama Minggu Ini. And which drug? At first, we looked at ketamine, but it doesn't give the high that Melody needs. In the end, Ping went for the generic white powder thing. Looks like cocaine if you ask me.
Realiti. On Sundays on 8TV, starring Azizan Nin, Ashraf Sinclair, Melissa Maureen, Alvin Wong, Chelsia Ng, Radhi Khalid. With Juliana Ibrahim, Maria Farida, Reefa, Lydia Ibtisam, Kee Thuan Chye. Special appearances by Fly Guy, Bernie Chan and Carmen Soo. What would you do to become a star?
but i made it for the second episode, very nice
I don't like the billboard for RealitiIf you drive down the Federal Highway from PJ to the city, as you're passing Amcorp Mall, you'll notice the very large ad with the pretty Ambank girl on the right hand side (Google Map overhead). At this point, flick your eyes to the front, and you'll see a billboard promoting Realiti, the new drama show on 8TV.
The ad looks a little like this:
I don't like it very much. Not only do the stars not look very good on it (I blame lighting, makeup and post-production, not the actors themselves, you understand), it really doesn't tell you very much about the show. Well, "Lima Peserta, Satu Impian" is kind of okay, it's still not quite there.
Of course, I must try to do better-lah. So in my very amateurish way, here is my suggestion for a billboard:
I prefer this because it tells you more about the kids themselves, and they look more personable and welcoming (the key word here is 'identifiable). The down-side is that there are too many words, and you might not take it all as you whiz past at 90kmh. Nevertheless, I know of more than a few guys who'd drive back and forth just to get a better look at Melissa Maureen. And girls who want to see Ashraf Sinclair. It's no accident pretty people are used in a TV series, you know.
Realiti - Pilot episode notesRealiti. On Sundays on 8TV, starring Azizan Nin, Ashraf Sinclair, Melissa Maureen, Alvin Wong, Chelsia Ng, Radhi Khalid. What would you do to become a star?
"How come you haven't written about Realiti?" asked my producer Ping.
Well, I did. A long, long time ago. And now, unsurprisingly, Yahoo and Google are directing people to my website. And, of course, everything is a little out of date.
Personally speaking, I wanted to write a heck of a lot more about the show before it went on air. I wanted to write about how great Lydia Ibtisam was in rehearsals and how Radhi Khalid brought a different spin in his performance as the performance coach, Mac, that I hadn't anticipated while writing scripts. Might still write about them.
But the pilot for the show just aired on Sunday, and I guess I should write about that, albeit in a very I-was-involved-so-I-have-a-distorted-view-of-the-whole-thing sort of way.
I suppose I should explain what the show is about. I mean, the best way to figure that out is to watch it yourself, and so if any of you haven't seen it yet, I may be persuaded to send you over a copy of last Sunday's pilot episode. Alternatively, if you don't mind really crappy video quality, you can watch a copy of the short trailer on YouTube (No, Ping, I had nothing to do with that). If you want, I can also send a copy of the longer trailer. On the proviso, of course, that y'all share the bejeebus out of it with all your friends. Free publicity, good thing.
Nevertheless, for the curious-yet-impatient amongst you:
Realiti is a drama series about five different contestants in a reality drama show and what they go through as they battle each other and their pasts to win the contest.
I'm not entirely sure that was the best pitch possible, but it'll work.
Okay, so now I'm going to play a copy of the pilot in the background while I write the notes below. Yes, Sad, I know, but I really like this show, so I don't mind kind of watching it again. If you haven't seen the show, you should watch it first, otherwise it might not make that much sense. (This episode on YouTube: Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
Oh, before that, pretty pictures:
Photos courtest of Popiah Pictures and Chelsia Ng
- My producer, the head-sifu and visoneer, Ng Ping Ho, wrote this pilot. He likes to write the pilot alone, but I do recall that he and I worked a little on the characters of the show. There were a few that we developed quite extensively before dropping them. There originally was meant to be a pub singer who had difficulty stepping out of her comfort zone and also I definitely remember a different interpretation of Melody (which I loved and am still a little peeved wasn't used). The pilot is used to guide other writers as to the style and characters in the show, but untalented bunch of hacks that we are, he always ends up rewriting us.
- The opening scene is meant to establish in two minutes the characters of Realiti. There is a sleight of hand here, because one of these characters will be out by the end of the first episode, but if anybody's seen the promos or the trailers, it's kinda obvious who. I think Burn, Baby and Nickson are established quite well, but Melody's intro is understated and Jessie suffers from being told who she is, instead of showing it. Maybe a better Melody intro? "Is it true your dad is giving you private vocal lessons?" "He helps. He just wants the best for me."
- For me, that exchange just before the title briefly comes up ("Is it always going to be like this?" "You want to be a star? Get used to it.") is great. Already it's established that we're going to be looking behind the scenes, and that life isn't going to be easy. Ping and I had long conversations about what the show is about. Getting this idea right is crucial, because it can make or break whether episodes 'fit' into the whole or not. The gist is that life is hard enough as it is, it's worse when you're under the spotlight in a reality competition. Our failure (I feel) is that we never wrote that down on a big piece of cardboard and stuck it up on the wall. Ping was always shouting at me through red-inked drafts, "It's always about the competition!". That was really important to him, although I kept being tempted to explore the alleys and by-ways of individual dramas.
- No title credits, because Ping didn't want to give Azizan's character away. Never mind that every press release before the pilot had him around.
- One question asked is "Why start at five?". Well, we would have loved to start with twelve contestants and then whittle them down one episode at a time, but twelve characters are tough to play with, and you can't tell all those stories in a thirteen episode (later trimmed down to ten) stretch. So we picked six, and then we cut down to five. Obviously, eliminations only then begin much later on, so we have about five or six episodes to establish stories and characters.
- The character of Mac, the performance coach, was originally much harsher, much more drill sargeant. Then the actor was changed, and Radhi brought a different take on the role than I originally expected. I don't know if we established that he was a rock star before who now has seen the dirt behind the glitz of the entertainment industry, and feels very responsible for the kids under him. Well, if we didn't say it out loud, it's obviously in the subtext, right?
- The idea for the contract that Mac makes the kids sign was something that Ping had from the first day. And stuck to it. Even if I arched my eyebrows at it the first time.
- I really like the first time you see the kids sing. It reveals more of their character. And, heck, yah, it's really their voices. Douglas Lim was given the responsibility to get them shaped up, and I remember asking him whether he was going to dub them or to use their original voices. The problem, he said, is that there are scenes where they practice singing in rehearsals, so dubbing is going to be tricky for that.
- The role of Mac is a combination of several roles: performance coach, vocal coach, minder, coordinator. In real life, he wouldn't be doing all that on his own. It's much more convenient to write one character that does all, than to come up with several people (and actors).
- Melody's exchange with Mac ("She feels trapped" "You pernah tak rasa macam tu? Like you can't get out of something") is classic foreshadowing, very underplayed, and completely missed by me when I read the first draft. This is why I am just a lowly writer and Ping is the producer. He also has a longer CV.
- The song that Melody sings is One Step, written by Douglas Lim. It isn't available on general release, as far as I know. The clapping at the end of it though, is not so good. Feels unrealistic.
- Nickson's performances when he's on the phone is very good. It's tough acting by yourself, but he makes it look easy.
- Kee Thuan Chye plays David Yeoh, Melody's father. What a great choice. I've never met him in person, but I would like to shake his hand for his performance in this series.
- Lots of singers just drink warm water. For real.
- Ah... Lydia and Azizan together. Absolutely brilliant. I think they have Chemistry (with the capital 'C'), and even though we all know Lydia from Impian Illyana, much effort was made to make her much more serious in this show. Initial rehearsals had her slipping into 'Illyana' mode, but I think she came through in the end.
- The way that Burn speaks with Joe sounds put on, but trust me, it's not. Reefa talks like that in real life, and he pretty much improv'd lines with Ashraf (that's what it looked like to me, anyway). There are Malaysians that speak East LA lingo. And, "Bila lu dah sampai Sungai Buloh, lu hantar I postcard, okay?" - classic.
- Is it reasonable that people hide that they have asthma? Yes and no, we argued about this a little. I could buy it, but only if Jessie had severe issues to go with it. In the end, at least we have Baby saying that it isn't a big deal.
- Melody's journal is Ping's scribbles with Chelsia's scribbles and photos, all tied up into one.
- Azizan can sing. Albeit in a very safe way. But pleasant on the ear. Not quite the rocker I originally imagined, but good enough. 'Nuff said.
- The first rooftop scene, with that condensor in the background. It's pretty, I think. The rooftop just suddenly became a set location out of nowhere. I think I came up with it when thinking of a location for romantic liaisons, but maybe Ping mentioned it as a possiblity, and I jumped on it with gusto.
- Ping worried that they might not let you show Melody smoking a cigarrette, although you never actually see her inhale. In the end, it got through.
- I wasn't a big fan of the Nickson's-father-abuses-mother storyline, because it felt a little clichéd. The big story of Nickson, for me, was that he had an... alternative lifestyle, and he has to hide it in order to succeed in the competition. I was told it's easier for certain people to accept that Nickson is gay if he had an abused background.
- That bit, when Baby is asked if she is nervous, that raised eyebrow from her - very cool.
- "This is just not me" - this line is foreshadowing over three episodes. I don't know if Ping planned it that way!
- The guy who plays Baby's fan - he makes that line work.
- The stage is Sri Pentas 2, where they hold Malaysian Idol, One in a Million and Muzik Muzik. The intercut shots are from the Malaysian Idol final, season 2.
- I think Aishah Sinclair looks hot in that jacket. So sue me.
- The songs sung: Pop Yeh Yeh by VE (Nickson); One Step by Douglas Lim (Melody); Party Like This by VE (Burn); Slumber by OAG (Baby).
- I like the way Baby's performance begins, but that dress, that hair - ugh. Not my choice by a long way.
- Melody's dress is sheer with the light behind it - I wasn't sure if Ping shot that intentionally, but it looks pretty good.
- The scene in the dressing room after Jessie collapses is tricky. But it really works. They're stars now, they have to act like it. And it sets up the money shot of them striding in formation.
- "Burn... nampak sangat you lupa lirik lagi". Why? Watch episode 2.
- The song that Amir sings in the stairwell is Akustatik by OAG. And sings it very well too.
- During the "minggu depan..." bit of the episode, we see a highlight of Burn arguing with someone: "You're just waiting for me to ------" and then they censor (by muting) his original lines: "You're just waiting for me to screw up! Screw you!". *Sigh* Somebody said that was better, because then you could insert your own, harsher words in.
i don't think dzof likes me...
Aww... and I DO like you. Even when you talk about dragons and such.
PS: If cannot, then tell me la, ok, then i'll take it down.
And Alvin, you are just SO right for the role! Hah. 3 cheers to you, buddy!
It would be of great help, couldn't get any hits for the song based on it's lyrics. The song starts with "I don't believe in second best, i'm not trying to impress..."