The Maid Press Conference

On the eve of the Chinese Hungry Ghost Festival, the Moviexclusive.com crewmembers got invited to the spookiest and strangest venue for a media press conference. The conference was for MediaCorp Raintree Pictures’ latest horror genre film production, The Maid, and it was held at the Sheng Hong Temple.

The temple was filled with red lanterns hanging over our heads, the stage all set up for the Seventh Month Celebration with the eerie soundtracks of the Maid playing helped build the creepy ambience for this horror flick media press conference. We were even told not to seat at the front row because the front row seats are usually reserved for the visitors from the nether world during the Lunar Seventh Month.

The marketing team behind The Maid did a good job, drumming up the scare factors for this movie. Beside the somber and eerie venue, a lady dressed up in a red Chinese wedding costume with her head covered with a red veil suddenly appeared in the midst of reporters, walking around with two lanterns bearers following her.

This lady dressed in the traditional Chinese red bride costume have a significant role in this film and will be walking through Orchard on the 12th August 2005 as part of the promotion for this film. So those who are brave enough to brave through the sight of this rather inauspicious character during the Lunar Seventh Month, come on down to Orchard Road on the 12th August and keep your eyes peeled for this mysterious character.

Right after the Lady in Red disappear, the cast Alexandra De Rossi, Chen Shu Cheng, Benny Soh, director Kevin Tong and producer of The Maid, Daniel Yun all made their appearances on the stage that one would normally associate with the Chinese Opera.

Daniel Yun revealed that he was inspired during the collaboration of the Eye franchise and decided that the time was ripe for Raintree Pictures to venture into a local horror production with a distinctive Singapore flavour. It’s not an easy genre to tackle and overall he felt that this film is something to be proud of. The film production was initially budgeted at 1million but when they saw the potential of this film, they added another 0.5 million during the postproduction to push the quality of the film further. The result was a rewarding one, as this film had already been pre-sell to the Hong Kong, Taiwan and China market.

Director Kevin Tong added that although it might look like an easy film to make, he assured us that it was not. The film process was long and tiring and a 10 seconds scene could easily used up to 25 cuts. However he cited working with the casts and especially his childhood hero Chen Shu Cheng and Joe Ng of the “Mee Pok Man” fame on the soundtracks were the highlights of this film production for him.

Playing the lead role of the unfortunate maid is Alexandra De Rossi, a well-known actress in Philippines. The very first encounter with this lady makes one wish that all maids in Singapore are all as pretty or well dressed like her. Seeing her in real life make the transformation from a hip modern actress into an unglamorous maid as she had portray in this movie look pretty incredible and testament to her acting ability. She told the media reporters that it was her first time acting overseas and in a horror genre. Although she only had a short time frame to get to know and work with her co-stars, it went well and she hope to work with Raintree again.

Another actor who had to undergo an image and behavior transformation in the film would be Benny Soh who played a mentally retard son. He shared with us that he had to learn Teochew, a language that he is unfamiliar with. He was also instructed to put on weight for his character and had to consume lots of supper just before he goes to sleep. He even had to shave his head and cut his eyebrows to portray his character more convincingly.

It was a surprise when veteran actor Chen Shui Cheng pointed out that he was actually very nervous in his first major big screen appearance, even when he had so many years of acting in front of the camera. The stress levels were added when he had to deliver his lines in English. Smoking and dangling a cigarette from the side of his mouth for this film was not an easy task too as ashes kept flying into his eyes.

When the stars were asked if there were any strange encounters during the filming of The Maid, the ever-bubbly Alexandra was ready to answer before the MC had the opportunity to finish her question.

“No” Alexandra was caught saying that repeatedly. She went on to point out that she was waiting for something strange to happen to her during the film production but perhaps due to her noisy nature that scares off any potential supernatural creatures, leaving her without any strange encounters.

Her fellow cast members and director were not that lucky and during the filming process, each of them experienced some form of strange encounters or coincidence which could prove the existence of the ghostly ones.

Benny Soh relates his encounter at a bus stop night scene near the forest and they had to take a break due to rain. Benny Soh went back to his car and tried to take a nap but was awaken by knocks on the passenger side. He went to check who was it but there was no one around. Verification with all the crewmembers only confirmed his worst fears that he might been visited by the third kind.

Director Kevin Tong declared that he used to hate this type of questions and he felt that it was impossible to have such ghostly encounters during the filming as there are too many people at the set. But something strange did happened during the film’s final postproduction. There was this certain scene that he was working on and had at least seen that scene for 20 times during the final editing. However when they were about to leave the video-editing house, the scene suddenly went missing. That set off a panic search for the missing scene. While the director and other members of the production team were pretty sure that the scene existed and not a fragment of their imagination, the people in charge of video editing house claimed that they never saw that particular scene. This whole matter was resolved later on but it was never too sure where the missing scene disappeared to.

Actor Chen Shu Cheng’s tale was the most painful one. In this movie, he had to limp with one of his leg but during rehearsal, he kept forgetting his character’s physical handicap. The day before a major shoot, which required 100 over extras, he had a very bad fall and had to rush to see an acupuncture doctor. Lucky the doctor managed to help him and he was able to work the day after, thus avoiding delays in the film shooting or exceeding the film’s budget .He did not had to worry about his character’s physical handicap from that day onwards as he was limping due to his actual injuries.

The Maid Opens 18th August 2005 in all good cinemas. Watch it if you dare.

Reported by Richard Lim Jr | Photos & Layout by: Lokman BS

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