This is part two documenting my first film in Indonesia — Be sure to read the beginning before continuing on.
Those first few days in Siak were 16+ hour workdays with only 2-4 hours of sleep a night for most of us. In fact on the third night while filming the office scene we had to pause while I chugged several cups of coffee in order to stop yawning on camera. And then as soon as filming wrapped, guess what? I couldn’t sleep thanks to the rush of caffeine. It was after 1am before I finally passed out — and we all had to be up at 3am to make the 3-hour drive back to Pekanbaru to pick up Riyanni from the airport and film a few scenes there.
Everyone else was able to sleep during the extremely bumpy drive from Siak to Pekanbaru but not me. Once again thanks to my tall frame, which made wardrobe shopping difficult the week prior, now kept me from being able to find a comfortable position within the van. In the end I spent the time speaking broken Bahasa Indonesia and English with the driver and finally responding to emails via my handphone.
Arriving at the airport Riyanni and her friend and assistant Di were already there waiting for us. After introductions and breakfast we started filming.
After filming wrapped at the airport we began the 3-hour drive back to Siak. For anyone who has not traveled through Sumatra, let me put it as politely as possible: the roads are shit. It is only about 100km from Pekanbaru to Siak yet the journey takes several hours.
And of course as soon as we returned the rain started. Unable to shoot the scene we had planned we instead decided to shoot the scene in the mosque. Not being Muslim, of course I was not needed for this scene.
Afterwards we re-filmed my “pedas” dream sequence with Riyanni in the bed next to me, but this was another one of the scenes that was left on the cutting room floor.
Another early morning, in order to maximize the light. First scene for the morning involved taking a boat out onto the river with a group of locals.
Following the river scene we went and shot the scene we had originally planned to shoot the day before, until rain got in the way. This one involved the four of us driving around in our rental car. This was done is several takes. First we positioned a camera on the dash and drove around. Next we had Antok hop in the back of the van and film from that angle.
The third angle was by far the most hilarious of all. We needed to get an exterior shot of us driving, one that one stationary. So to achieve that look what Antok and Takdir decided to do:
Driving scenes complete, next our rental car “broke down” and the four of us decided to abandon it in favor of a couple becak motors that were conveniently passing by. To achieve the smoking engine we rigged up a tube and had Edy stand behind the car to operate the smoke machine. Although he is not visible in the short version of the film, you can see him just barely in the background of the full-length version — if you have a keen eye 😉
Our next scene involved Riyanni and I helping a family make (and then eat) lunch. This was one of my favorite scenes! Why? I love Indonesian food! Plus it was a lot of fun spending the afternoon with a local family.
One of the main things the director wanted for this part of the film was me eating something spicy and saying “pedas!” (Bahasa Indonesia for spicy). Because I love spicy food and eat it often, not much is really spicy to me. So for this shot Riyanni made me a special snack: kangkung with a handful of sambal sandwiched in between. Now this was spicy! We ended up having to shoot the scene three times too, from different angles. By the end of the third time I was definitely sweating 🙂
As the evening came around it was time to film the dance scene. We headed out towards the Siak riverwalk where a large group of locals in traditional dress were already waiting. Neither Riyanni or I knew the dance steps in the slightest but it didn’t matter — all they wanted was for us to have fun. And that we did!
Following some last-minute script changes the night before, this morning we headed off to an elephant sanctuary. Finally a chance to fulfill something I’ve always wanted to do — ride an elephant!
Our next stop was the coconut plantation we had scouted during day two.
That night we filmed the Siak surprise party, which was the film scene in the film.
Then around 9-11 that night we filmed a night scene at Kelenteng Hock Siu Kiong, a Chinese temple. This part in the film actually takes place right before the night party scene we had just shot.
Day Seven: Work All Day, Party All Night
We started out the final early morning by filming a few scenes outside of the former Sultan’s palace turned museum, Siak Sri Indrapura Palace, a frequent tourist destination ever since being donated to the city by the Sultan himself. There is even a large proclamation at the start the, although in polite yet condescending lawyer speak, essentially reads: If any of my heirs or future heirs try to reclaim this residence and property then tell them to screw off”
After a few hours we headed off to the river for a bit of work-related fun.
At this point filming was basically a wrap. We shoot a few more “filler” scenes with me bicycling around Siak that afternoon while one of the drivers made the 6-hour round-trip drive to Pekanbaru and back to pick up a few bottles of liquor for the after-party!
And Now The Feature Presentation
Although several versions of the film have been produced, the full-length one and the two commercials (15 seconds and 30 seconds) are airing on TV here in Indonesia. As such I have only been given permission to share the short 3-minute version…at least for now. So without any further ado, I present to you our Siak tourism video: