The cast of "The Cage" at the movie's recent press conference.
"The Cage" tells the story of a group of actors performing a play on stage whilst locked in a cage. When one of them is murdered right in front of the watching audience, the audience thought it is part of the play and ignores the actors' plea for help. Desperate, the remaining actors have to find the real killer among themselves before he or she strikes again.
The first 'reality movie' to come out of Malaysia, directors Felix Tan and Ketshvin Chee attempt to bring a difference to the local movie industry by producing an unscripted movie. It uses the same premise as reality dramas "The Game" and "The Game 2", where the direction of the story depends on the actors' own creativity, decisions and actions.
Cinema Online has the chance to talk to the directors and cast of "The Cage" recently. Minus the appearance of actress Wayne Chua, the rest of the team talks about impromptu acting, staying in character and unstoppable crying caused by the film.
The caged cast of "The Cage".
As the directors, why did you decide to make a movie without a script?
Felix Tan: A lot of people ask me that, even I ask myself that. Frankly it is because we can insert any scene during the filming, and we can ask the cast to play any role we want. After I created the kind of scene or atmosphere that I wanted, I invited the 11 cast to enter this theatrical world which has no script and let them use their honest feeling to play out the scenes one by one and let everything flow naturally. It is a very risky project. Without the help of everyone who is involved in this movie, it would not have happened. It is an unusual experience for the cast and crew. In Malaysia, other than making a typical Malaysian traditional film, we want to give the audience a different experience.
Ketshvin Chee: Although I've seen it so many times, every time I watch it I'll feel nervous. Tan and I are experimenting with a new genre with this movie. I'm nervous because I'm concerned what sort of emotions the audience would feel while and after watching the movie. I feel that the people who've worked hard on this movie are brave indeed. If you were an investor or actor, and I tell you I want to make a movie that has no script and no plot, would you invest on or act in it? That is exactly the sort of challenge that Tan and I faced, but the investors and NTV7 willingly lent us a helping hand and even encouraged us to try it out so that we can give the audience a new exciting experience.
As for the actors, what did you feel while watching the movie?
Yeo Yann Yann: The more I watched the more I felt like I was experiencing it in real life. For us actors, our job is done only during the filming, especially in a movie. Then the end result depends on the directors. After I watched the movie, I think that it is a bit different from what I expected but I still feel touched by the result.
Yeo Yann Yann and Coby Chong in their roles.
Was it true you were dancing around on your own after the filming wrapped up till everyone was worried you've gone insane?
Yeo Yann Yann: That's because near the end, my character Yan Ling really has gone insane. She doesn't want any help as she has already lost all her will to live, she just wants to die.
When your character Yan Ling was saying her final words on camera, you ended up using your real daughter's name as hers?
Yeo Yann Yann: Yes. I couldn't think of any other names. There was a time when I was filming another movie during my pregnancy, my daughter would move in my belly every time I got too agitated. Then I would tell her to not be afraid, mummy was not really angry, mummy was just acting and pretending. So when I act on stage, I think would have probably told her the same thing.
What about you, Coby, what did you feel while watching the movie?
Coby Chong: I felt very worried and nervous when I was watching it. During the filming of Yann Yann's and Chua's scenes, I managed to watch them act the scenes out and I ended up crying, the emotions were so real. Like what Yann Yann said, we don't know how the movie would turn out to be. We don't know how the story would go, we were only responsible for our own parts. We used our own creativity and created our own script.
William San and Henley Hii trapped in the cage.
Did you feel the same, William?
William San: I was so immersed in my acting, I blurted out "brother" (tai lou) in Cantonese instead of Mandarin. In the beginning, I was part of the audience so I felt very relaxed, what's happening on stage did not concern me. But after I'd gone into the cage, the feeling was terrifying. The atmosphere was really different. You wouldn't know how to react, it was very different from being just an audience. Also, before that I didn't know when I was going in, so I got worried about how I was going to go in. It was scary because as soon as you went in, there was a chance that you would die. No one knew what was going to happen next.
How did the audience react to your presence among them?
William San: The audience didn't expect I was part of the actors, they thought I was just an extra.
Adrian, what did you think of your performance?
Adrian Tan: Personally I am someone who is scared of dying and I am a coward, whereas in the film I had to play the role of a hidden traitor and my emotions at that moment were complicated. I knew my part from the beginning. But in front of them I had to keep lying. It was hard to do because I was afraid I would get discovered. While I was watching the movie I thought to myself, if I were part of the audience, would I go in and save them? After everything is done, I feel like I have been toyed emotionally. We all feel like we have been played by the directors and vice versa.
What about you, Henley?
Henley Hii: We shot this last year. I heard that the rough cut was 8 hours and all of us were really anticipating how it would turn out. Since there was no script, we had to ad-lib a lot. There would be certain scenes that leave a deep impression on you and you would wonder whether the scenes would get cut off. When I was watching the movie I felt stressed. To me, this is by far the most stressful and tiring movie I have ever done. During rehearsals, we played the mafia game and I was the worst. I was easily influenced, I kept changing my mind about which of them was the good guy.
Adrian and Berg playing their parts.
What did you think about your character, Berg?
Berg Lee: I realised that I am the most hateful character in this movie, to the point that even I would hate my own character. Everyone else was terribly harmed by me. I don't want to act as a bad guy anymore. I've never seen my face contorted like that before. There was this one time, when we were done filming, I was still stuck in character. Our emotions in this movie were really complicated. The gun scene was especially intense. The directors wanted us to suspect each other and they gave me a gun. I kept the gun in my pocket and I thought I could just go in and kill somebody. But at the same time I wondered, what were they given?
What did you think of the movie, Ernest?
Ernest Chong: There are some scenes that made me feel slightly confused, probably because while were filming, we didn't know what was happening on the other side. The stage is very big, there was a lot of space. We wouldn't know what was happening at the other parts. Also, in the movie, my character hates Yann Yann. But when she was talking to her daughter, I ended up crying during that scene. Even Berg cried. It happens on the spot and it is a reality movie, you can't escape the emotions you carried at the time. You don't even care about your face when you cry. [Jokes] Even Kyo who likes to look pretty doesn't care. When you're shooting a movie, 70 or 80 percent of yourself is immersed in the movie. Only after watching the movie do I found out I can make these kinds of expressions.
Was it like that for you, Kyo?
Kyo Chong: I think this is a breakthrough for us, a breakthrough movie. I didn't feel like leaving my seat, I didn't want to miss anything. Everyone really gave their best in this movie. I usually like to look pretty, but I cried and looked ugly in the movie. [Jokes to Ernest] But you still looked uglier than I did. What really touched me is that each cast has a different perception on death. So, I feel like the audience can understand what we feel in this movie because it is very realistic and it can really move a person.
Kyo, Ernest and Mei Fen immersed in their roles.
Wang Jun, how was it for you?
Wang Jun: When I was filming this, I had three issues. Firstly, I collected money while sleeping. I slept for a few days. I wish that I could sleep more so that I get more money but the directors wouldn't let me.
Henley Hii: [Laughs] Wang came in every day, put on dead person makeup. He wore the same makeup every day, came in, lay down and earned money.
Wang Jun: Second issue, Kyo threw something and hit me 'down there'. Audience saw me jerk and wondered why I moved. They thought, 'maybe he is the murderer (pretending to be dead)'.
Kyo Chong: I took a red thermos flask and wanted to throw it at the cage. It ended up hitting Wang instead. He was dead but his body jerked when I hit it. [Laughs] He cursed me on stage for it.
Wang Jun: Third issue, never during filming has anyone ever dared to confiscate my phone. These two directors did. They wouldn't let me go home until the shooting was done. My wife called me but couldn't get through. [Jokes] She thought I was having an affair. I had to explain to her that I was acting dead, I couldn't speak.
Wang Jun in his grave moment.
Last but not least, Mei Fen, what did you think of the movie?
Lim Mei Fen: When I was watching it, I forgot that I was one of the characters. I am truly honoured that I get to act with such a talented and brilliant cast. However, acting as Fanny was easier than acting as a dead person. I had to act as a dead person that couldn't cry. It was really hard because everyone in this film made me want to cry. I was dead but my tears were flowing, I had no way to wipe them off. My makeup gets smudged because of my crying. I've lived for 27 years, I've never cried watching any movie because I know that they're fake. But this one makes me cry endlessly.
Watch "The Cage" trailer below and get ready to be enthralled when the movie opens nationwide on 30 October 2014.
Cinema Online, 27 October 2014