Friday, November 27, 2009

Hong Kong Adventure

A number of years ago I was shooting a film in Hong Kong.

The script called for a sequence with a Chinese farmer and his son, to be shot on a farm well outside the city. I had permission to shoot on the farm for only one day, Sunday, so we had to start early Sunday morning.

The actor playing the farmer was already at the location. With my crew I was waiting for the arrival of the boy who had been hired to play the part of the farmer’s son and who was to come with his mother. The mom, luckily, spoke good English. She would spend the day taking care of the boy while we worked. But they were late.

We sat there and waited.

Whoever first said that time was money must have been thinking about film production. We waited some more.

Finally, I could see the two of them hurrying toward us. The mother apologized profusely; the lad had slept late. Fine, I said, get in. Let’s go.

As we started off, the woman had a request. Her son had had no breakfast. Couldn’t we get something? He could eat it while we drove to the location.

If you’ve ever spent a very early Sunday morning in Hong Kong – and who hasn’t? – you are aware that the town is closed up just about as tight as a drum. However, I did espy a small hole-in-the-wall sort of place that seemed to be open. It had a sign in front that read “Portuguese Cakes.”

I had no idea what those were but any port in a storm, as the saying goes. I gave some money to my assistant and told him to get something for the kid’s breakfast.

We waited some more.

When the assistant showed up I was startled to see that he had a large tray loaded with half-a-dozen containers of the aforesaid cakes. It seems that a Portuguese cake, at least in Hong Kong, was a variation on the cream-puff theme: each container had a sizable piece of cake on the bottom with a whopping amount of thick whipped cream on the top. It was difficult just to have to look at such stuff early in the morning.

I believe that kid had never tasted anything like those “cakes” before; he ate them all, and with gusto.

To get back to our production, no one had told me that the farm, our location, was on top of a hill. Nor that the only way to get to it was on a small winding road – which zigged off to the left, then zagged off to the right, etc., etc.

The inevitable happened.

Our boy actor suddenly let loose with a monumental upchuck, probably of a dimension never before seen in that part of the Orient.

The rear seat of our vehicle – and unfortunately not just the rear seat – was covered with gobs of partially-digested gateaux portugais, which had somehow become transmogrified into something rather like Elmer’s Glue, except that the smell was far worse.

As we continued toward the location, I could only wonder if Scorsese ever had problems like this. :-)


French Fancy said...

Oh you have been around - in the best possible sense of the word.

I've not given a great deal of thought to life in Hong Kong but I kind of assumed it was 24hr living - obviously not.

Berowne said...

>> I've not given a great deal of thought to life in Hong Kong but I kind of assumed it was 24hr living - obviously not. <<

Oh, I believe there was quite a lot of night life, just not in the circles I moved about in. :-)

Madame DeFarge said...

One suffers for one's art. As he so clearly did.

Anonymous said...

How funny! But I'm sure at the time it wasn't at all.
You've had some wild adventures!

Berowne said...

>>One suffers for one's art. As he so clearly did.<<

As, indeed, did we all. :-)

Thanks, Mme DeF, for putting down your knitting long enough to make a comment. Your visit was appreciated.

Shyam Sunder Pariavakkam said...

Nice blog. Really enjoyed reading your posts.

Berowne said...

My thanx for the kind words.

Berowne said...

It's always a pleasure hearing from you, Dedene.

Berowne said...

By the way, Shyam, you mention Kamal Haasan in your favorite movies section, but no mention of Satyajit Ray. Bit of a surprise...

Oh My Goddess said...

Now I'm rethinking my plan to make a Croquembouche for this years holiday table.

Berowne said...

Probably a wise decision, Goddess. If someone at your holiday party never had a croquembouche befoe, he may find it as fantastic as a Portuguese cake and polish off half a dozen of them. Dramatic disgorgement would inevitably follow. :-D

Little Ms Blogger said...

I hope the incident in the car was not a premonition of the rest of the day's shoot.

Berowne said...

Well, let's put it this way. As I'm sure you know there are films, completed productions, that, according to critics, smell.

That Hong Kong movie smelled while it was being made -- a new cinematic achievement. :-D

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