Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

May 30 2005


After rushing to get all our daily work done early on Friday, Dean and I walked over to the train station to meet Maurice in the big hall where you buy tickets. We got three to Keelung, went downstairs and set off for the port city as dusk fell. April was supposed to get on at Nangang, and she did, but we didn’t see her for a while because we told her the wrong car. The train was packed with commuters as it was rush hour, but by the time we got past Nangang and Xhizhi a good portion of them had gotten off.

The SuperStar Gemini was docked just across the narrow harbor from Keelung Train Station. The last time Dean and I took the “Cruise to Nowhere”, the food was not only scarce, but not that good either, so I bought some cookies at 7-Eleven in case dinner turned out to be another disappointment.

Loaded down as we were with equipment, we decided to take a taxi over instead of walking. We were supposed to be there before 8:30pm, but it was early, so we took some shots from the dock, just in case, while a guy on a bicycle tried to insinuate himself in the movie.

By the time we got to the customs and immigration, it was empty except for a few “greeters” hanging around and chatting with each other, all largely ignoring us. All except for the man in the large uniformed penguin suit. Apparently part of the price of the cruise is being accosted by the Disneyesque appartition and having your picture taken with it for blackmail purposes.

There were about a dozen lines, all empty, waited. Only one was for foreigners, so Dean, Maurice and April lined up, while I went to one of the “Chinese Only” lines, and then chatted with one of the crew, a guy from China, while I waited for the others to be processed. He told me that there were over 600 passengers and just as many crew.

Then it was time to board. I was making Pac-man noises as we were led through a maze-like series of hallways to our cabin, which I had assumed, based on the relative cheapness of the price, to be located in the bowels of the ship. We were fairly high up, however; it just didn’t have any portals; otherwise it was quite nicely appointed. They even had Star World on TV.

Dinner was wrapping up, so we hurried aft to the restaurant, where we were pleasantly surprised to find a really nice buffet spread. Maurice, of course, ordered wine. Afterwards we went up on deck to watch Keelung Harbor slip by as the ship went to sea, the vessel beginning to sway and roll in the ocean waves in a pleasant fashion.

To celebrate this and counter the swaying, we went below to the bar and had some drinks among the many gangsterish types before they all disappeared into the casinoes, which could only open when we were in international waters. This was the main reason most of the passengers had come. Throughout the cruise, we only saw a handful of other passengers, but this was perfect for us, as we didn’t want to attract a lot of attention with the filming. In the bar we ran through lines and worked on timing while an Indonesian mariachi band did Phil Collins covers.

The next morning I woke up early, around 7, as we had agreed the night before. The others, however, were reluctant to rise to soon. Truth be told, I sleep very well on board a rocking ship, so I could understand. But I was a little worried that the weather, which was spotty thus far, wouldn’t hold, so I wanted to get the filming done as soon as possible while it wasn’t squalling outside.

After a great breakfast of mostly pastries, we set up on the upper aft deck and ran through the scene from several angles. The light was quite nice, actually, but the contrast was difficult to deal with without any lights or reflectors. By this time we had reached the Japanese island of Yonaguni. The ship was turning around, so the islands were going in and out of shots the whole time, necessitating many repeats. At one point a South African couple strolled up and engaged Dean in conversation halfway through a take. Maurice arrived later and we did his dialogue with Dean.

I got several different angles that I liked, and then we went forward to the bow of the ship. I suspected this might be a problem because it was right below the bridge, and we’d even worked out an elaborate story in which Dean and April were newlyweds on their honeymoon re-enacting the moment they met for the camera, but nobody ever even asked us what we were doing. Hardly anyone was even there. The angles were a bit problematic at first because to avoid crossing the line of action I should theoretically have been suspended from a Boatswain’s chair above the ocean, but I figured out a cheat that should work nicely.

The shooting over, we retired to our tiny cabin to watch the footage and laugh at the footage of April struggling to keep the wind from blowing her dress up. Satisfied everything was more or less covered, we put away our stuff, changed into more comfortable clothes, and went to lunch with high expectations.

Lunch was great, of course, though it started to squall halfway through it. It was good we’d gotten the filming done. The ocean in that area was dotted with sunlight, alternating with dark storm clouds, creating a nice effect. After lunch I went around taking pictures of the ship, while the others went off on their own. Later I found Maurice sloshing around in the rocking, swaying swimming pool, and April tried to catch some sun on the deck above the bridge. The ship seemed empty, which was nice. The only other passengers around were the wives and children of the gamblers, as well as some of the gamblers themselves when they wanted to take a break.

We took in the last part of a show that night. The show involved a Brazilian theme, apparently due to a dark guy in red who would rush over and stare at certain members of the audience, but it also included a group of talented acrobats from Shandong Province. They were very talented at acrobatics, but maybe not so talented at keeping their rainbow-colored wigs on during the actobatics. Just before the show finished, a very small person, not much larger than a barbie doll, ran out on stage and freaked us all out a little.

After dinner, Maurice, who was feeling a little seasick and freaked out by the barbie-doll person, returned to the cabin while April and I took a turn in the jacuzzi. After that I was feeling energized and wanted to celebrate the completion of the scene, so Dean and I went back to the bar and drank (I still can’t believe they don’t have CC rye on that ship), chatting about the film and, somewhat deliriously, comparing ourselves to Cubby Broccoli and his gang making the early Bond films on shoestring budgets.

After another great sleep and even more pastries the next morning, we approached Keelung again, looking dark and dismal and close after the distant sea horizons. The ship seemed even more deserted as the Taiwanese passengers lined up early below, eager to depart. We stayed up on deck and watched the city slide by once again, right up to when they turned the ship around and docked. The entertainment section of the crew was lined up to see us off the ship, but the giant penguin was nowhere to be seen.

We took the train back to our respective destinations, April to Nangang, Dean to Songshan, me to Taipei Main Station to catch the MRT to Xindian, and Maurice the last to get off, as he lives in Banqiao. The trip was a real success; rarely do we have such relaxing, trouble-free shoots.

posted by Poagao at 3:16 am  

No Comments »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment