Video: Vina Chia
DIRECT FROM MELBOURNE: A 20-strong team consisting of cast and crew members of Channel 8’s The Dream Makers 2 flew to the land of kangaroos to film certain key scenes in the 32-episode drama series for two weeks in September. And Toggle was part of the entourage from start to finish: we got to breathe the same air, sleep under the same roof, and had equally early call times too – but that’s another story for another day.
For this week’s special ‘Dream Makers 2’ #throwbackthursday series, the spotlight is on two esteemed veterans in the TV industry – Zoe Tay and Li Nanxing, who despite their seniority, are the jovial “mood makers” on set in Melbourne.
There’s never a dull moment with them around. Nanxing’s a walking jukebox, who, when not crooning random Mandopop songs of yore – replete with cheesy dance moves from the 80s and 90s, is busy pranking on his co-stars. Zoe, on the other hand, displayed paparazzo-behaviour unseen and unheard of, as she hawks around the set with mobile phone in hand, ready to pounce on any photo and video opportunity of her co-stars.
Case in point: when poor ol’ Romeo was doused in iced water for a scene in the drama, guess who was standing directly opposite him, waiting to film the one-take-only scene on her phone? Answer: Zoe.
We also accidentally overheard Ah Jie nagging at her co-stars to “Snapchat as much as possible” to maximise their data bundle. True story.
“When we got here, we bought a prepaid card that came with a lot of data,” laughed Zoe as she explained her kiasu mentality, “I should just make full use of it since I can never finish it!”
And that she did, during her pockets of free time, snapping pictures and videos of the hard-at-work production crew so that everyone would have “some form of keepsake” to remember their time spent in OZ land. Amazed by her own efforts too, Zoe marvelled in her interview with Toggle, “This is the first trip that I’ve taken the most amount of photos and videos.”
While they didn’t have much scenes together (except for the hot air balloon ride in Yarra Valley), when Zoe was not on set, “big brother” Nanxing would take over and play harmless pranks to spread cheer and good vibes around.
One minute he’d be singing his heart out and the next, he’d be creeping up on unsuspecting co-stars, like Romeo Tan and Jeanette Aw to give them a good scare – and everyone a good laugh.
“Everyone’s really tired and we wake up bright and early every morning. We have to move hotels after a few nights and have plenty of equipment to pack, load and unload… It’s tough work and that’s why I make them happy on set to keep their spirits up,” he shared, “When we are in good spirits, we’ll forget about how tired we are.”
Just how tired were they? In the words of Zoe, who recently got acquainted with the wonderful world of coffee – after a friend said it helps prevent dementia (“because it feels like I’m approaching that stage in life!”): “I usually only drink one cup a day, but for this trip, I drink two cups on a daily basis and I still sleep like a baby at night. I’m so tired I don’t even get a buzz from the caffeine.”
So is Ah Jie on the flat white or long black-camp?
“I prefer coffee with milk in it but yesterday someone told me that you need to drink all-black coffee with no milk or sugar – only that works best as a prevention against dementia!” she laughed.
Guess who’s a convert now? Welcome to the club, Zoe.
Ah Jie tells us more about her favourite picture of this trip on the next page. Read on for more.
The Dream Makers 2 debuts December 4, 9 pm on Channel 8; it will be available on Toggle-It-First on November 26. For more information and features, visit our microsite. Watch The Dream Makers 1 on Toggle.
Special thanks to Tourism Australia and Tourism Victoria.
Throwback Thursday with Jeanette Aw in Melbourne
Throwback Thursday with Romeo Tan in Melbourne
(Continued on next page)
Zoe's favourite picture of the trip - taken at Brighton Beach with the two assistant producers
Toggle: What’s your favourite picture taken during this trip?
Zoe: This jump shot of me and the APs (Assistant Producers) taken at Brighton Beach because we just wrapped a scene and the picture emanates joy!
When you travel abroad what do you never leave home without?
Nothing much really. Come to think of it, the makeup artist and I were just talking about it since we’ve been travelling together for work starting from the early days. Things are much better now, the production team will see to everything and prepare sufficient clothes - very pretty clothes, in fact - and heat packs too. Last time, we’d have no choice but to layer our clothing and we’d be dressed like dumplings -- it’s not comfortable and not warm. We’ve definitely become savvier packers with experience, but my must-bring item would be sunblock.
What did you do on the flight to Melbourne?
Sleep and eat.
Zoe filming a scene before going on a ride in the hot air balloon
Most memorable filming location?
Hot air balloon. It was quite cold when we got there in the morning and what’s memorable is I’ve been on it twice, but I’ve never had the chance to tour the area in a hot air balloon - it only went up and down. But that’s okay, at least we got some really pretty footage from it.
I look forward to…
My bed – need a lot of sleep!
The one item you’d take to a deserted island?
What do you need for a perfect holiday?
Anything you hate about travelling?
Discovered anything new about your co-stars?
We don’t have a lot of time to really interact but I previously went to Beijing on a business trip with Jeanette and I learned that she’s actually quite a foodie! I’m also quite a foodie so we have similar interests. We ordered up a storm [in Beijing] and we love to try different kinds of cuisines.
Ah Jie attempts to draw Singapore's city skyline (including the Merlion). Check out her doodle on the next page!