5 Cool Things We Learned Being On Set Of An HBO Production

BRB, preparing for our next lead role in an HBO movie.

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5 Cool Things We Learned Being On Set Of An HBO Production
Images: HBO Asia and Rojak Daily
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be on a movie or TV show set? Or what goes on behind the scenes when the cameras stop rolling? Do some of these places depicted on screen actually exist?

Well, we were fortunate enough to go on a special trip and visit an actual production set thanks to HBO Asia.

Rojak Daily was flown all the way to Singapore and then made our way to Batam, Indonesia for an exclusive set preview of HBO’s original drama series – 'GRISSE'.

Lights, camera, action!
' is a periodical drama set the 1800s with an “east meets west” theme. The series is about a group of unlikely individuals who lead a rebellion against a brutal governor in a Dutch town called Grisse.

Here's a fun fact: the name Grisse was actually taken from an actual place in Surabaya, Indonesia named Gresik.

The show features an international cast from Singapore, Indonesia, Japan, USA and yes, even Malaysia. Representing us in the TV series is none other than local comedian Joanne Kam.

While we were on set, we discovered some interesting facts about what actually goes on behind-the-scenes of a high-budget TV shoot. Here’s what we learned from spending a day on set of 'GRISSE':

#1 The Set Won’t Be There Forever

Welcome to GRISSE.The jail that was built on the indoor set.
Is it a tent? Is it a home? Is it a refugee centre? Who knows.
When we first stepped onto the set, we were in absolute awe. There were two parts to the set; one indoor and one outdoor. The indoor set was probably where all the jail scenes and mining scenes were filmed, while the outdoor one is most dominantly used throughout the series.

Looks creepy, but you can spot this set in the trailer soon!
The outdoor set was really cool as it felt like we stepped onto the streets of Malacca 100 years ago. We learned that it took more or less 100 people to build this cool set.

Initially, we thought they would keep the set for future production but unfortunately, we were told that the set will be taken down once they’ve wrapped up shooting. Only certain bits or props will be kept for other productions.

#2 Long Hours, Unpredicatable Weather and Periodical Costumes

If it takes a village to raise a child, then it probably takes more than a few villages to make this production.
One of the 'shops' on set of GRISSE.
One of the cast members, Toshiji Takeshima (who plays Ryuichi in the TV series), told us that they spent long hours on set, especially when it comes to complicated scenes such as the fight and action ones. There was one day where they started shooting at 6am and only wrapped up at 6pm.

Phew, that sounds tiring!

Toshiji is very happy with his super comfortable costume.
Jamie Aditya, who plays Kurt, also told us that the weather could be very unbearable at times and it makes you very uncomfortable at times, but like they say; the show must go on.

“One of the days, the heat was scorching hot; it went up to 48 degrees Celcius,” he told us.

Yikes, we can’t imagine being on set for long hours with that kind of weather and decked in thick or layered costumes. The dedication that the cast had shown is highly admirable. It's not easy being an actor, folks!

#3 Attention To Detail

All the posters, props, have been given the vintage look.
They've done all they can to make the set believable!
How attentive was the production crew when it comes to the details on set? One word: impeccable! Since 'GRISSE' is set in the 1800s, obviously everything portrayed on-screen has to mirror that period.

When we were there, we noticed they put up merchant stalls selling spices, batik cloths, cooking utensils, and many more.

Since the show is set in Indonesia, naturally a batik stall is a must!
Also, we spotted a back alley adorned with all sorts of things such as ‘Wanted’ posters. We commend those who painstakingly put all the effort to made it believable.

We really felt we travelled back in time when we walked around on-set.

#4 Business In The Front, Party At The Back

Stilts and tents.
Shooting in progress, quiet on the set.At the end of one of the corners of the set of GRISSE.
It’s all business when the camera is rolling on set, but if you walk just a few steps away from it, you can visibly see the stilts that support and stabilise the set. There were also tents erected to house the crew, the extras, the sound engineers, and the rest of the production team.

We were so amazed that only a few steps can separate you from a fictional setting to real life.

Also, we lost count how many people were on set that day. From makeup artists to production team, we felt like we were surrounded by people anywhere we turned. 

#5 The Cast Was Assessed On Their Physical Levels

Joanne Kam Poh Poh is the only Malaysian in GRISSE!
Prior to the shoot, we were told that all cast members were required to do a series of physical activities so that the stunt team can assess their capabilities.

Before choreographing any fight scene, it is essential for them to know how far you can go. For example, if your upper body strength is much stronger than your lower body, you might have a lot of fight scenes using only your hands, such as throwing punches or shooting a gun.

Toshiji is one hell of bad-a** samurai in GRISSE.
Having a martial arts background can also prove to be an advantage for some cast members such as Toshiji as he knows the correct way to use the Katana (a Japanese sword) and the movements of a samurai warrior.

So, the next time you're watching your favourite TV series, you can be sure that lots and lots of hard work went into the making of the show. This set visit certainly opened our eyes.

'GRISSE' is set to debut at the end of 2018.

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