Thursday, March 27, 2008


Hashi | はし
Japan/Singapore/Malaysia | 2008 | 111 mins |
Japanese with English subtitles

A film that deals with very relevant issues in our everyday lives, Hashi centres on 3 women from 3 age groups - Shino(50s), Junko(30s) and Momo(20s). Momo is a bento (box lunch) delivery girl who sends bento lunches to Shino and Junko, who are colleagues in an office. Momo would always tell her dreams to Shino or Junko. One day Shino gets a call from an ex-boyfriend whom she has not met for 30 years. Junko has doubts about her relationship with her boyfriend. Their 3 lives cross and diverge in oblique and tangential ways. As the story weaves around issues of love, relationships, insecurity, death and the blurring between dreams and reality, the men in their lives are always present but hardly seen or heard.

In life, the individual always works with limitations. Hashi is a film that was made with prior knowledge of these limitations, and represents a way of working through them. The limitations allows for the exploration of the nature of fiction filmmaking itself. The film takes its cues from Luis Buñuel’s That Obscure Object of Desire: if one actor can play a role, why can’t the same role be acted by two, four or more persons within the same time-space continuum of the story?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Director's notes - a dialogue with 'limitations'


Hashi(はし) was one of the first words I learnt in Japan. Hashi could have 3 meanings in Japanese, depending on the written kanji, it could mean a bridge, a pair of chopsticks or the edge of something. In life, we always work with limitations. I made Hashi knowing the limitations I would face in terms of production crew and budget during my artist residency at the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Japan.

The Fukuoka Film Commission helped to send out a call for audition for actors through their mailing list. I started with an initial idea and story structure. At the audition 80% who turned up are women. Except for 1 woman with theatre acting experience, the rest have no film or stage experience. As most of the women are working or studying, I am limited in time commitment as well.

Like breathing, the initial idea went through a natural catharsis as the story finds itself during the callback audition. After doing intensive and personal interviews with each of them through an interpreter, I wrote the script using the actors' own stories, my own inspiration from these stories and also the materials from my own research. The filming felt like a long workshop with the actors and the whole process was like making a documentary. I enjoy the fusion, interplay and synthesis between fiction and documentary, as they allow me to explore the limits of narrative filmmaking.

The story finally centred on 3 women from 3 age groups - Shino(50s), Junko(30s) and Momo(20s). Momo is a bento delivery girl who sends bento lunches to Shino and Junko who are colleagues in an office. Momo would always tell her dreams to Shino or Junko whenever she delivers their bento. Their 3 lives cross and diverge in oblique and tangential ways and the men in their lives are always present but hardly seen nor heard. The story revolves around issues of love, relationships, insecurity, death and the blurring between dreams and reality.

Why Hashi? Chopsticks, for the Chinese, the Japanese, and for me at least, connotes stability. When we are able to eat, things are somehow under control, in order. The Edge - unstable, unsure, at a loss, looking for a direction. Bridge - all humans need to make connections with another being at different times of our lives. At different points in our lives, we exist in all the above states of being - hence the title Hashi.

I started with a script of about 10 pages, mainly description and short dialogue with about 50 scenes. Together with the interpreter, I worked on the scenes with the actors using their own experiences. The actors would write their script in their own words in Japanese. The manpower limitations exert a natural force that gives form to the film. I recall the Taiwanese New Wave. The camera is stable, hardly moves and events just unfolds within the frame. The crew consists of 3 persons mainly - myself as director/cameraman, an interpreter who also helps to write the timecode, and the curator who doubles up as the soundman and Japanese dialogue supervisor. The boom was attached to a microphone stand on rollers. The film took on a form that was a consequence of this dialogue with 'limitations'.

Also, because of time limitations for the actors as they are either working or studying, I sought to take Luis Buñuel's methodology in That Obscure Object of Desire to its logical conclusions and to explore this 'suspension of disbelief' in films, which was also a key element of Japanese Noh theatre. I decided to have 2 actors playing Junko and 4 actors playing Momo. Shino was played by 1 actor and so Shino became the anchor for the Junko and Momo characters and as well as a focal point for the audience.

These limitations became a liberating force that allowed me to explore the nature of fiction filmmaking, and the artifice of fiction film acting itself where a role is normally played by 1 actor. If 1 actor could play a role, would it not be possible that the same role be played by two, four or more persons within the same time-space continuum of the story?

from the edge of the bridge
I hear the song of the whales
I break my chopsticks
and throw them into the sea

Music composers & publicity designer

An extra scene from Hashi: Hideki Yamamoto(He) is actually Kazuna Nakama(She). 


Hi, I just wanted to let you know that "Hideki Yamamoto"(me) did not make the music for the film "Hashi", my friend Kazuna Nakama did, but she(and her parents) had concerns about using her identity(name) online, so she asked me to correspond with you in order to retain her anonymity. However, now that she is older and going into college, she would like to put the music from Hashi in her portfolio and resume. Kazuna has something to say:
Hi Sherman Ong! I just wanted to say that I love your film and it's very artistic and beautiful! Thank you for using my music in your film, and I wanted to just tell you that I have an email address of my own that I use now(used to use this one, taelmx) it's
If you feel comfortable with changing the credit on the blog page under "Hideki Yamamoto" to Kazuna Nakama, it would greatly help me with job opportunities and college, and I'm sorry I had to be anonymous when I made this music. Oh, and I almost forgot to show you some links that you may want to look at: 
(this website is just about me, if you want to change to this in your blog) & (my Deviantart)

Hideki Yamamoto is an RPG(Role Playing Game) soundtrack composer, and also makes music for films. He has made music for an RPG called Rising Tide, and is currently working on three more game projects. He started working in the game and film industry in 2005, and is currently studying production animation in Chicago, US. He has been involved in film projects, game projects, and professional photo shoots. In 2008, he is placed 11th out of 53 in Square Sound's Nobuo Uematsu arrangement competition. He played in a local band and earned seven gold medals in solo contests in the US. He will be majoring in Game Design and works as a Game Editor to earn his keep. In 2009, he sent Sherman Ong, the director of Hashi, an email to say that the real composer is a girl and her name is Kazuna Nakama.

"That a Malaysian systems programmer can end up writing folk tunes with a strong Leonard Cohen stamp is a testament to the global reach of modern music. And "greyhound" makes the most of his far-off influences, turning out driving ditties topped with a cool tenor." ~ Editor's review,

Bernard Ng was born in the town of Seremban, Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia. Throughout his youth he moved around the country a lot with his family. He first began listening to music seriously after exposure to U2's Achtung Baby album, and, ever since then, has loved searching for, finding, and (occasionally) creating moving, meaningful music in his free time. Aside from U2, he periodically returns to the music of Bob Dylan, Rufus Wainwright, Jeff Buckley, Johnny Cash, and Alison Krauss. However, he loves finding new music and latches on to many of the eclectic little gems that come his way, which are too many to list. Bernard graduated with Bachelors and Masters degrees in Electrical Engineering from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, USA. He currently works in Knoxville as a web programmer.

Catherine Chia Chin Cheng - publicity design
A multi-award-winning advertising senior art director/designer who has graced the boardrooms of Tequila/TBWA, M&C Saatchi, Leo Burnett, JWT, Impiric, Bates, et al. and greased the publicity machinery of M1, Citibank, Standard Chartered, Nike(Asia), Ericsson, Tangs, inter alia, she is the lady with the 4Cs who is passionately pursued by clients and agencies alike. catcc[at]mac[dot]com

Process - fotos by Kamachi Masae

Looking for Junkos**

1) Do you smoke/drink?
2) Do you play any musical instrument?
3) Attached, married or single?
4) First thing you do when you open your eyes
5) Who is the first person you meet in the morning?
6) Please describe that person.
7) What is the first thing you do in the work place?
8) Describe the first person you meet in office.
9) First word you say to your colleagues.
10) Describe your actions in the toilet.
11) How do you have your lunch? With whom?
12) Why do you eat alone/with colleagues?
13) What animal is the closest to your personality?

14) Give 5 characteristics/quality of this animal.
15) If you can be a different animal, what would it be?
16) What do you think about when you are eating?
17) When it is sunny, what do you think about?
18) When it is raining, what do you think about?
19) What is your favourite colour and why?
20) What are you afraid of in life?
21) What makes you happy or is important in your life?
22) What is the worst thing you did as a child?
23) What is the worst thing you did as an adult?
24) What is the most hurtful thing someone you love said to you?
25) What is the worst thing you said to your lover?
26) What do you love about Fukuoka?

27) What do you hate about Fukuoka?
28) What/who is your greatest love in life?
29) What/who is your regret love in life?
30) Describe one of your dreams.
31) a) Describe your desires b) describe your sexual fantasy
32) What would you do if you can’t achieve these desires/fantasies?
33) Who is your closest family member?
34) How would you feel if this person disappears from your life?
35) Two years from now, how do you see yourself?
36) If you can decide how to end your life, how would you like to die?
37) What would you do or say before you die?
38) When you close your eyes, what is the first image that comes to your mind if you realize that you can’t open your eyes again?

Looking for Momos^^

1) Work? Full time or part time?
2) Attached or single?
3) Live with family or alone or with friends?
4) Do you smoke/drink/take drugs?
5) Do you go clubbing or to bars?
6) Hobbies?
7) Have you been in a relationship before?
8) How long was the relationship?
9) What do you look for in a relationship?
10) Why did the relationship ended?
11) Why do you live alone/with your family?
12) Who is your closest family member?
13) What if this person disappears forever?
14) Who is the person in the family that you have the most conflict with?
15) What kind of conflict?
16) What do you do when you are alone?
17) How do you see yourself two years from now?

18) Do you believe in god?
19) What is your ambition or desire for the future?
20) Are you looking for a boyfriend? / Can you live alone all your life?
21) Who do you trust the most?
22) Do you have siblings?
23) Status of your parents’ marriage?
24) What is your sexual desire/fantasy?
25) What is the worst thing you did as a child?
26) Have you liked or loved someone before?
27) What goes through your mind at that time?
28) What was the worst thing you did to someone you love?
29) When is the period that you are free or have free time?
30) What makes you cry? When was the last time you cried?
31) What does love mean to you?
32) What is the feeling of floating mean to you?
33) What is the most dangerous thing that you have done in your life?
34) What do you think is your role on this earth?
35) Describe a dream that you will always remember/recall.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Behind the scenes - by Kamachi Masae


----- Shino シノ
Shinohara Keiko 篠原敬子

----- Junko ジュンコ
Kato Naoko 加藤菜穂子
Nakao Yoko 中尾容子

----- Momo モモ
Hirano Seiko 平野聖子
Nagatome Kanako 永留加奈子
Uemura Naoko 上村尚子
Mogata Miku 藻形未来

----- Sumiko スミコ
Nakamura Etsuko 中村悦子

----- Woman at café (left) カフェの女性(左)
Inoue Tomomi 井上知美

----- Woman at café (right) カフェの女性(右)
Nakajima Natsuko 中嶋奈津子

----- Junko’s boyfriend ジュンコのボーイフレンド
Shirai Keita 白井啓太

----- Man in car 車の男
Uchimaru Kohei 内丸 浩平

----- Man outside bathroom 浴室の外にいる男
Koide Yohei 小出陽平

----- Tanaka (man with Shino) タナカ(シノといっしょの男)
Muta Tetsuo 牟田哲夫

----- Man from Bangladesh バングラデシュの男
Abdus Salam 

----- Voice of woman at door ドアの女性の声
Kamachi Masae 蒲池昌江

Production Team

----- Producers -----
Kamachi Masae 蒲池昌江
Matsuura Jin 松浦 仁

----- Screenwriter & Director -----
Sherman Ong

----- Cinematography -----
Ming An 明安

----- Offline Editor -----
Aki Yasu あきやす

----- Music -----
-- Forty Two --
-- What a little moonlight can do --
Bernard Ng Jin Choon

-- The candy dance --
-- Forest shrine --
Hideki Yamamoto 山本 秀樹
Rising Tide Online

----- Interpreters -----
Ishimatsu Noriko 石松紀子
Toki Kaori  土岐 薫
Kamachi Masae 蒲池昌江

----- Script Translation -----
Toki Kaori 土岐 薫
Izumida Kayo 泉田佳代
Horikawa Lisa 堀川理沙
Igarashi Rina 五十嵐理奈
Ishimatsu Noriko 石松紀子
Entire cast of Hashi

----- Dialogue Supervisor -----
Matsuura Jin 松浦 仁
Kamachi Masae 蒲池昌江

----- Sound Person -----
Matsuura Jin 松浦 仁
Uchimaru Kohei 内丸 浩平
Kamachi Masae 蒲池昌江

----- Poem translation -----
Nakao Tomomichi 中尾智路

----- Transportation -----
Uchimaru Kohei 内丸 浩平

----- Publicity Design -----
Catherine Chia

----- Production/Location Manager -----
Kamachi Masae 蒲池昌江

----- Online Post-Production -----
Freddie Yeo, Infinite Frameworks

----- Online Producer -----
Jeffry Mamat

----- Colorist -----
Vijiendra Balasundram

----- Online Editors -----
Nigel Fernandez
Jonas Ang
Pinky Calica

----- Production Advisors -----
Kuroda Raiji 黒田雷児
Matsuura Jin 松浦 仁
Nakao Tomomichi 中尾智路
Kamachi Masae 蒲池昌江

Generously supported by
The Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Japan

Friday, March 7, 2008

Thanks and Acknowledgments

Fukuoka Asian Art Museum 福岡アジア美術館
Fukuoka Film Commission  福岡フィルムコミッション

Kyushu High School  九州産業大学付属九州高等学校

Hakata Riverain  博多リバレイン

Shinohara Keiko  篠原敬子

Nishitani Kaoru  西谷 郁

Uchimaru Kohei  内丸 浩平

Maco ‘Scentcat’ Miyazaki

LOVE FM, Fukuoka

Philip Cheah
Catherine Chia Chin Cheng
Yuni Hadi
Chalida Uabumrungjit

Freddie Yeo, Infinite Frameworks

The Substation, Singapore

Hashi postcard