2008, 5pm at Goodwood Park Hotel
Director Eric Khoo and his cast members were in Goodwood
Park recently for an informal chat with us on "My
Magic", a movie that was nominated for Best Picture
in the recent Cannes Film Festival and will represent
Singapore as an entry in the foreign language category
in the upcoming Academy Awards.
Even though it had been stated on the official website
that "My Magic" came about due to Eric’s
own fatherhood experience, admiration for real life
magician Francis Bosco and the post apocalyptic novel,
The Road by Cormac McCarthy, the director shared with
us another aspect that helped originate this movie concept.
It turned out that during his multiple visits to the
Korean Film Festival (for his Be with Me and retrospective),
he was constantly asked by journalists about his next
film project. Even though he didn’t have any concrete
idea at that moment, he jokingly told them that it would
be something about magic. The more he talked about it,
the more the idea grew on him and eventually with the
funding that he attained, everything just fell smoothly
into place for "My Magic".
In fact, things went so smoothly that the scheduled
12-day shoot was reduced to nine. The dangerous stunts
that Francis Bosco personally performed in this film
went without a hitch. An abandoned house that was crucial
to the movie was accidentally spotted by Eric’s
assistant when they were in that remote area for another
function. Even the weather cooperated by providing rain
when a scene required one. It was the most pleasant
shoot in Eric Khoo’s history of filmmaking.
The only difficulties he faced were related to the ending
and the translation.
The original plan was to shoot the very last scene on
the 9th day but after watching a rough cut, Eric Khoo
felt that something was still missing. They had to reshoot
all the scenes except the one where Jathishweran opens
Helping the two lead actors get the Tamil language right
proved to be the toughest challenge. Fortunately, help
came in the form of Grace Kalaiselvi. Initially she
was cast as one of the supporting characters but when
the production team had problem with the language, her
experience with Tamil television programming made her
the articulation police on set.
While Khoo kept a look out for general performances
during the shoot, Grace was there to help spot pronunciation
mistakes. She was practically a co-director and initially
found it terrifying but quickly rose to the challenge.
She revealed that young Jathishweran had no problems
in delivering his lines and it was Francis Bosco who
made the most mistakes. Eventually, all her stringent
quality control paid off as the local technician in
India who were doing the 35mm conversion; found the
standard of Tamil to be very good.
"My Magic" recently took part in the Cannes
Film Festival and became a hit over there. Eric Khoo
shared with us that after the screening of the movie,
he and the cast were asked to attend a photoshoot cum
interview. To their surprise, there were more than a
hundred photographers waiting for them. He was later
told that not all films get this kind of treatment and
films that are deemed inferior by the reporters would
have only a handful of photographers or zero request
at all. He also told us that Francis was the most popular
among them and he was so hounded by the photographers
that he was the last one to leave the photoshoot session.
Francis later joked that he should get the same treatment
back in Singapore.
However the new found recognition wasn’t the only
reward that Francis Bosco gathered after working in
"My Magic". Francis shared with us that he
had his own set of problems with his son and that they
hadn’t been speaking for a long time. During the
post production of "My Magic", the director
of photography Adrian Tan who also had his own problem
with his father was so moved by Francis’s portrayal
as a dad seeking amendment with his son that he made
a pact with Francis that they each mend their own relationship
woes. By the time we had this informal chat session,
Francis told us that both of them had broke the years
of silence between father and son.
This 'most personal piece of work' about the kinship
between father and son had not only improved the relationship
of those who were involved. It will also be representing
Singapore for the upcoming foreign language category
in the Academy Awards. Before this chat session was
over, Francis Bosco told us that it will be the best
present for him if "My Magic" gets into the
nomination round. Something to be proud of as it’s
truly a home-grown effort.
• Director Eric Khoo’s favorite magic trick
from Francis Bosco was the glass-eating act. Eight years
ago in a pub, Francis Bosco performed that trick with
a thick brandy glass and he ate half of the glass. It
shocked the people who witnessed that act and the scene
was so memorable that it became the opening act for
• According to Francis Bosco, there isn’t
any video or film that features so many bizarre magic
acts. He performed at least 15 of them and it had been
cut down to nine in the final edit.
• Francis Bosco actually kept his diabetic problems
from the director as he felt that Khoo would have prevented
him from performing those extremely dangerous tricks.
• According to Eric Khoo, his son Christopher
who had composed the central theme, Lonely Boy for My
Magic was initially too shy to present it to his dad.
It was only after Eric had heard the tune and asked
if he could use it for the movie that his son revealed
to him that it was written specially for his latest
out their magic on 25 September 2008 when "My Magic"
opens in cinemas.
Report/Photos: Richard Lim Jr
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