My initial idea was about a really smart friend in primary school who was also super tall and pretty, and everyone would say that she should become a model. I then came up with the story that she did in fact become a famous model, and then became disillusioned with the lifestyle and decided to hit the books again.
Qis’s idea was about a friend of hers who was on a downhill spiral but became reformed in NS, while Hui En’s idea was about her friends from boarding school. We sat down and thought of doing something along the lines of plastic surgery as we liked the idea of beauty being important, spun off my model idea, and eventually decided on a story about how being conventionally unattractive affects our main character, an “ugly” girl. We decided we’d want to do something in the fantasy genre, and decided to involve elements of a spell book and face swapping (later changed to complete erasure of a face), as well as magic potions.
Our story is about a girl (Qistina) who loves acting, and wants to be an actress. However, she’s overshadowed by a conventional beauty (Karen). One day, when she’s crying alone, a magical beetle scuttles across the carpet, triggering Qis to knock over a magical book with spells inside on how to absorb the beauty of another. When our conventional beauty, Karen, falls sick, Qis uses the opportunity to “take” her face and become beautiful, and fulfill her dream of playing the lead role.
This is followed by a narrative where the spell wears off, and Qis becomes ugly again. We took the pictures for this, but I personally decided to omit this part as I felt that the story tied up well with Qis finally getting to live her dream, albeit at the expense of another. I also liked the suspense this created with the question of what happened to the now faceless Karen. Furthermore, I felt that it suited the entire storyline more when I didn’t add in a frivolous detail about the technicalities of the spell, which felt too Cinderella-ish for me, personally, when I was editing and decided to omit this last bit.
We based the idea of the face swapping off Kasane, a manga with a similar theme of beauty, where a magical lipstick would enable the main character to take on the face of the person she kisses. We liked this idea of face-swapping, but later modified it to face-erasure as we didn’t have enough people such that faces could be swapped without Karen reappearing later as an audience member and it being potentially confusing.
Behind the scenes
We couldn’t find a good place to shoot the theater scene – I tried emailing my junior college and secondary school asking if they’d let me use the school stage for the scene but they denied my request due to safety reasons. Hence, we settled on a outdoor stage instead – one beneath my HDB block, more specifically.
2. Costuming, clothes
Realized the bright pink of Hui En’s shirt wasn’t very stagehand-like, so we ran back up and she borrowed my school shirt to wear.