The lensing ceremony for upcoming Channel 8 drama Blessings 2 is one of the largest this year, with 17 cast members gracing the event – some of the main cast members were even dressed like their 1918 characters. To add more spice to the lensing, a lion dance troupe was also called in for a special performance.
Though the lensing ceremony was held just yesterday, main cast members Chen Han Wei and Rebecca Lim, as well as Zhang Yao Dong have already started filming their scenes a few weeks back.
First on the list for on-screen couple Han Wei and Rebecca is a time travelling scene, where Han Wei’s character, Lian Da Xi, falls into a river in present day Singapore, and resurfaces in 1918 Singapore.
Da Xi is eventually saved from the river by Rebecca’s 1918 character, a well-off, educated daughter of a bank owner.
As Da Xi has to travel back and forth between the past and the present a few times, as he attempts to fix his mistakes, Han Wei shared with us during an interview at the lensing ceremony that he will probably have to film close to 10 ‘underwater’ scenes.
“The scene is really very beautiful, and different from previous scenes. It’s all underwater, and the action is shot from a lower angle,” he shared. “I can’t show [the readers] my pictures or videos of it, of course, you’ll have to wait for the drama to air first, but I really like the end result.”
But of course, beauty comes at a steep, steep price – nine hours in a cold pool, to be exact.
We caught up with Rebecca at the lensing ceremony as well, where she shared that their joint scene was filmed during Singapore's ‘winter’ a month back, where temperatures dipped to as low as 22 degrees.
“We were shivering like mad in the pool! The water was cold, but honestly, it was even colder outside, so we chose to remain in the pool instead. The pool was located in a hotel at Changi as well, so you could feel the cold sea breeze coming in,” she said.
“I never use stunt doubles for my dramas, so that the end product will be better. Even if it’s a wide shot, there are still little quirks and actions that my character will have that I must bring out.,” Hanwei said. “The entire scene took around seven to nine hours, and I had to constantly submerge myself in the pool and sink down, before swimming back up again for another take”.
To aid Hanwei in his task of sinking down gracefully, the actor actually had weights of between 8 to 10 kilogrammes ensconced in his messenger bag, which he had to swim up to the surface with multiple times. Talk about a workout!
Han Wei still has another daunting task ahead of him, however. As the 1918 scenes will be shot in Malaysia’s Ipoh and Penang, there will be underwater scenes over there, this time in a 5 meter pool and open waters too.
“I’m not exactly scared of such scenes if they’re filmed in pools, but if it’s filmed in open waters, like in a river or out at sea, you wouldn’t know what’s under you in the water, so its more scary,” he shared, adding that there will be night scenes as well.
Rebecca, who was tasked with saving Han Wei’s character from the river, had an equally strenuous task cut out for her – diving in and out of the water to reach Han Wei.
“It’s been a while since I last exercised, so my fitness level has dropped. I honestly didn’t have enough breath to dive in and out of the 3.5 metre pool, but I had to push through and persevere,” she said.
The actress shared that they had already gotten 3 NG (no good) takes for that scene alone, as she would run out of air in the middle of the scene. It was the end of a long day, and both cast and crew alike were extremely tired.
“I told myself that I definitely have to go all out for the last take, and to continue on even if I can’t do it,” she recounted.
So, channelling her inner Dory from the Finding Nemo series, Rebecca brushed aside her fears and worries to “just keep swimming”, no matter what.
“At that moment, I was afraid, [but everything turned out well in the end]”, she smiled.