I think it’s always interesting to know what went on behind the scenes for any production. With Eric, there’s always food involved. He’s a man who knows his food, and listening to what he has to say about food, it’ll make you want to have that particular dish right that moment.
I like the bits where I get to learn something. It could be about a new culture, a new tradition, a certain way of how a ritual is done. The things you see on screen, have been carefully guided and taught, with respect and love.
The Japanese team arranged a half day tour for me, bringing me around Takasaki. But this half day was quickly cut short when Eric summoned me for filming because we wanted to catch the sakuras in good weather. So this is what I mean when Eric reacts very readily to his surrounding, and it’s this flexibility and ability to adapt to changes that I feel is so very important for a director.
Before I got called back for filming, the team actually brought me to a master who painted Daruma dolls. The Daruma doll is a traditional doll, mostly seen as a symbol of perseverence and good luck. The doll’s eyes are blank when you purchase it. You then make a wish and fill in the doll’s left eye. When the wish is fulfilled, you fill in the other eye. (This appears in the film, so just in case you wonder why and what that is all about.) I love these little stories I get to learn, and I enjoy it even more when I get to try my hand in painting the Daruma doll’s face. This is possibly my favourite part of the tour.
Each stroke and each image on the Daruma doll is symbolic. Each master would have their own style. But this master’s work is a piece of art, and painting on a rounded surface, trying to control the pressure of the brush stroke is very difficult. I think I passed and received a nod of approval from the master! Totally made my day. I got to bring home my little doll and it rests on my shelf back home.
I guess many know I love art, and this session was specially arranged for me. I had fun, I felt like a kid in painting class all over again. The simple pleasures in life!
Since Eric knew I loved drawing, he asked me to fill in the journal (in the film) with my sketches. The sakuras, the image of the Goddess of Mercy at Takasaki, and a family portrait.
In fact, while we filmed this scene, Eric suddenly goes, “Jeanette, can you draw the sakuras now and we can film it down?” A spur of the moment inspiration, and of course, knowing this actor can still doodle a little here and there. In case you didn’t know, Eric is an artist himself! You should see his drawing, it’s pretty amazing!
With a sudden turn of events and the universe planning it all out for me, I actually made it back to Singapore in time for the Gala Premiere.
Ramen Teh, be ready to catch the movie in theatres starting 29th March 2018.