Monday, March 14, 2011

Four Films: A Writer as a Film Extra, while based in Penang, Malaysia

Group shot from Paradise Road, Cannon Square, Penang. Glenn Close and Juianna Margulies from ER are kneeling at center. Photo by Robert Raymer

As a writer formerly based in Penang, Malaysia (and now in Borneo), I found myself as a film extra in four films, which I wrote about in Tropical Affairs: Episodes from an Expat’s Life in Malaysia and posted some excerpts in late 2009.  Three of these are in my all time top five blog posts and one is in the top seven for this month, thanks to the cool group photo above.  Some even consider this section the most interesting of the book because it takes you behind the scenes of four acclaimed films with A-list directors such as Bruce Beresford, Andy Tennant and John Boorman, and Oscar-award winning/nominated actresses, including Jodie Foster, Francis McDormand, Cate Blanchett, and Catherine Deneuve.  One film, even won an Oscar for best foreign language film, IndochineIndochine, a small closed set for the Christmas party scene, was my introduction to life on the movie set, followed by the larger racing boat scene, and then the films Beyond Rangoon, Paradise Road and Anna and the King, a truly magnificent ride.  Hopefully, I'll have more opportunities to be involved with films; even better if they are based on my work or the screenplays that I've already written. 

*Update, the 20th anniversary of Lovers and Strangers Revisited, my collection of short stories set in Malaysia

**Update: Book orders for Trois autres Malaisie  E-book orders.  Or recommend it to your friends, especially those who would like to know more about Malaysia or have an interest in Southeast Asia.
Here's a link to the intro and excerpts, and to four reviews of Trois Autres Malaisie in,,, and Petit Futé mag.

***Here’s an update to the French blog about Trois autres Malaisie and my meeting the French translator Jerome Bouchaud in Kuching, and my involvement in a French documentary for Arte (June 2017) on The Sensual Malaysia of Somerset Maugham.

Here is a collage of photographs from the films.  Some of these were even snapped by a couple of stars themselves. Here's a video clip from Indochine. I can clearly be seen seated at the table several times, but on the dance floor, maybe the back of my head...

Robert Raymer at center on the set of Indochine
Indochine: Catherine Deneuve rehearsing tango with Linh Dan Pham 

The Indochine Tango Dancers.  standing Robert Raymer, Joelle St-Arnoult, Angela and Lee Clark; seated Anni Nordmann, Andre Cluzaud, Laurence, Seibert Kubsch
Indochine, Joelle St-Arnoult and Robert Raymer danced the tango together  
Beyond Rangoon: Joelle St-Arnoult  and Robert Raymer as tacky tourists.
Indochine: Linh Dan Pham took this black and white photo of Siggi and me.
On the set of racing boat scene in Indochine.  Robert Raymer at left with Siggi
and friend on the footbridge that the French built at Parit, Perak.

Indochine: Robert Raymer with actress Linh Dan Pham

Anna and the King: Robert Raymer and the crocodile

Robert Raymer,with fake sideburns, on the set of Anna and the King
Paradise Road, Robert Raymer at left     


sintaicharles said...


BorneoExpatWriter said...

Thanks, I certainly felt cool in the tux and suit in Indochine and also in Anna and the King, though the tacky tourist clothes I could've done without!