Dash’s First Birthday Bash
One year ago, power blogger Wendy Cheng (aka Xiaxue) gave birth to her first child, and a social media star was born. Of course, a birthday bash was in order to celebrate Dash’s first year. The Superheroes vs. Supervillains themed party saw some amazing costumes, elaborate decorations and food, as well as some of social media’s most popular figures.
Xiaxue as She-Ra and Dash as his namesake from The Incredibles.
The set up at Hokey Pokey Playground. Everything was The Incredibles-themed!
There was also a specially-designed menu for the food.
Cute photo booth props!
The birthday boy’s OOTD. He wears a custom-made suit (sourced by Xiaxue’s BFF) in a red and black theme, and tops off the outfit with black booties.
Dash and his grandma, who came dressed as Edna Mode.
“How does She-Ra pose ah? Like this right?”
“Okay Mom, I know they’re filming your show but you gotta admit that I have some star power at least.”
“Stop rolling guys, I have something on my delicate face.”
“She wore what to my party? Wow, someone call the fashion police.”
Xiaxue and Dash prepare to meet fans at a meet-and-greet before the party. Some fans started lining up three hours before it started.
“Mother, this rusk you’ve given me tastes awful.”
“So is this how selfies work?”
“Watch it there, your hair is getting in my face.”
“Yup, they’re all here for little ol’ me.”
“What? Someone came in the same outfit as me? How DARE they?!”
“Sorry I didn’t mean to spoil the picture, but I really needed to pee.”
Guests received these specially designed T-shirts.
Qiu Qiu as The Hulk (a very skinny one), Shuyin as Poison Ivy and Yutakis as Super Mario.
Rozz and boyfriend Justin as Maleficent and Guy Fawkes.
Shu An and boyfriend Joel as unicorn-Thor and unicorn-Batman.
Xiaxue and Dr. Georgia Lee, who came as Catwoman.
We caught Spider Man (Paul Twohill) sneaking a selfie.
Elmo made an appearance as well. Or rather, fake Elmo. We were told he had horns to avoid copyright issues.
Fake Elmo is a little overwhelmed to be meeting Dash in person.
Dash was momentarily kidnapped by the Evil Queen from Snow White.
Thankfully, he made a speedy escape.
Just in time to cut his birthday cake!
The clicknetwork gang.
Look out for the upcoming episode of Xiaxue’s Guide To Life about Dash’s First Birthday Bash! For more pics of Dash, check out Xiaxue’s Instagram and Dayre.
Behind The Scenes With Budget Barbie
When Qiu Qiu waltzes into the clicknetwok office on Monday morning, she’s dressed in what she describes as Harajuku style.
“(My husband) Josh said I look cheena, but I told him it’s Harajuku style OK,” she says, as the crew gets ready to set off for Johor Bahru. They’re filming a special episode of Qiu Qiu’s show Budget Barbie, where she finds the best deals with $100 in shopping money.
And so began our great Johor adventure.
As we drove past the Johor Bahru Checkpoint, we saw the City Square mall sign in the distance – beaming at us like a beacon of hope, after we had just sat through an hour-long jam leading up to the checkpoint.
“Yessss! Time to shop!” Qiu Qiu cheers, as the rest of us sit up excitedly upon hearing the news. That is, until we get confused by the road signs and somehow end up back at the Johor checkpoint.
We stopped to ask for help and were given a form to fill out…except the entire thing was in Bahasa Melayu. Needless to say, while Google Maps may have failed us, Google Translate did not. (Google Maps got us lost again shortly after, and we ended up on the highway to what possibly could have been Malacca.)
When we finally get to City Square, we have a quick lunch before getting down to business – the shopping and the show. I never really realised how much skill it takes to be a natural on camera, especially when people are staring at you because it looks like you’re talking to yourself. Qiu Qiu browses through racks of clothes in a store, talking to the camera like a friend. We enter a store called Garage Sale, and Qiu Qiu’s eyes glaze over as rows of bargain bins beckon to her. This is what Budget Barbie heaven must look like, I think to myself.
She walks through the aisles in a hypnotised sort of daze, zoning in on the areas with attractive sale signs. Very much like a moth to flame, or bees to honey, or…well, a true-blue shopaholic to bright sale signs.
This is the expression Qiu Qiu has whenever she’s contemplating if something is a good bargain or not. But it could also be her mentally converting the Ringgit prices to SGD.
Shooting close ups of items.
Qiu Qiu posing for the camera with some of her shopping finds.
Rummaging through the bargain bin. “Shopping is exercise right?” says Qiu Qiu.
Clearly very pleased with her shopping haul. I think this was the store where Qiu Qiu busted her shopping budget for the show. “Nevermind lah, must spend more when you’re overseas so your travelling costs are worth it!” she reasons with the producers.
Qiu Qiu got distracted by this top on her way to the cashier. “Omg this top is so me! Should I get it? But I’m going to go over budget. Aiyah, get lah!” she says in one breath.
After City Square, we headed to KSL City Mall – a place strangely known to be infested with mosquitoes. Also, the pungent smell of Penang laksa wafting through its basement floor.
After a quick stop at the pharmacy to pick up some mosquito patches (Qiu Qiu warned us not to stand still or we’d get bitten, and unabashedly jiggled on the escalator to avoid being too still.) we headed to Wardrobe, one of Qiu Qiu’s favourite stores at KSL City Mall.
She picks out some good buys at Wardrobe, including a cute #OOTD tee that she claims is “Instagram-worthy”.
We also spot this strange NIU NIU York tee, which I can only imagine is a bad pun on the words New York and Miu Miu?
Qiu Qiu saw the bright lights emanating from this cart of watches and could not resist buying some.
Shooting a closing link for the episode. We got photobombed so many times by passersby, including a small girl who crouched down like Gollum and crawled past Qiu Qiu when she realised she was in the shot.
After shopping, we check out the night market across the street from KSL City Mall. Qiu Qiu brings us to the famous muah chee uncle, who hams it up for the crowd upon seeing the camera crew.
“来来!” The illustrious muah chee uncle beckons, as he puts on an elaborate show of muah chee-making. He then presents the box of muah chee to us with great flourish.
The muah chee was indeed impressive.
Qiu Qiu then leads us to another stall selling kueh (“Can sample one!” she says gleefully.) and we hover around shamelessly for samples.
We end the trip with a quick stop at hypermart Tesco, where I stock up on bags of Oat Krunch cookies like an auntie (it’s much cheaper in Malaysia OK). While lining up at the cashier, we spy Qiu Qiu engrossed in the clothing aisle at Tesco. Never passes up a a chance to shop, this one. (“I think it might be a disorder, you know. I have this compulsive need to buy something…like every day.” she says forlornly.)
Our journey back to Singapore ended with a massive 2 hour jam to the checkpoint. And yes, my bagful of snacks came in very handy.
Qiu Qiu’s Budget Shopping Tips
1. Best places to get good deals?
Song & Song, SingSale and warehouse sales (info is usually posted on local forums like CozyCot).
2. Foolproof ways to bargain?
Wear makeup (or look attractive) and ask nicely. It’s easier to bargain when you’re a girl, because you can act cute! But don’t try bargaining if the auntie or uncle looks grumpy.
3. Tips on getting freebies?
Talk to the staff at makeup counters and be nice to them! They’ll probably give you free samples. One time I talked to the staff at (Japanese skincare brand) Astalift and she gave me a lot of samples. She even gave me a small pouch you know!
Look out for the special episode of Budget Barbie on clicknetwork, coming out soon! Qiu bought A LOT of stuff for the giveaway, so you’ll definitely want to catch this episode.
Behind The Scenes With Baby Dash
We shot an episode of Xiaxue’s Guide to Life with baby Dash, who was the star of the show that day (sorry Wendy). Check out what went on behind the scenes.
Oooooh what’s this? A Canon 5D Mark III? For little ol’ me? Gosh guys, you flatter me.
Come on, guys. What’s taking so long? I’ve got places to be you know.
Mum. Please. The cameras are still rolling. Sooooo embarrassing.
Can someone call wardrobe? I think I’ve got a wedgie.
WHY are they taking so long? I’m parched. Positively parched!
Does this make me look fat??
What’s this…lemon, you say? Yeccch! My delicate taste buds have been ruined. And I don’t know why you’re grinning, Mother. I don’t find this as amusing.
On second thought, maybe it’s an acquired taste. Gimme some more.
Cleansing my palate with some FIJI water, because Jamie Oliver said that one must always do so.
I was sharing my views on an important global issue. I am pleased to note that my mum is listening attentively.
Having another drink after my wardrobe change. It’s tiring being a baby star, you know. Absolutely taxing.
What? They’re delaying the shoot again? Oh no they didn’t!!
Go on, take a picture of my tantrum face. Let the tabloids see this, I don’t care!
Go on, I dare you!
Oh wait, I was kidding. Guys? You didn’t really take that picture did you? Hmm?
What? You did??? Nooooo my innocent baby reputation has been ruined. RUINED.
Mama, it was bad. They caught me throwing a tantrum, they have it on high def. What do I do? My sterling reputation has been ruined! All ruined! *buries head*
Wait, where are you guys going? Guys? Why are you keeping the camera? Hellooo? I’m still here and camera-ready!
Catch the full episode of Xiaxue’s Guide to Life on clicknetwork.tv soon! In the meantime, get your Dash fix from Xiaxue’s Instagram.
It’s a Date! – Behind the Scenes
If you’re a fan of clicknetwork‘s show It’s a Date!, you’ll probably be pleased to know that there’s more. The show is coming back and it’s taking on a new “Dating Tutorials” spin – with hilarious comedy sketches that illustrate the do’s and don’ts of dating. Yes, that includes awkward first dates, getting out of the friend zone and more.
The first episode of It’s a Date! Tutorials will be out at clicknetwork.tv/itsadate on 22nd October 2013, but I snooped around on set to get the first scoop.
The first order of the day around here, it seems, is McDonald’s breakfast. Ahh, nothing like a healthy start to the day.
I also spy a bag of snacks. BBQ Twisties! And caramel popcorn! Yes, I like this crew already.
I check out the rest of the place as the crew sets up and the actors get their hair and makeup done. They’re shooting at an apartment called Wilby Bukit Timah, and it overlooks a swimming pool with dolphin statues.
Unfortunately, we don’t get to shoot at the pool (so inviting…), and the crew sets up in one of the bedrooms instead.
No action goin’ on in the bed though (this is a PG show, I hear), but actor Shane Mardjuki gets positioned at the desk. He’s doing a scene on online dating so he accesses his online dating profile on a laptop.
“I only have 3 messages?!” he says with disdain. “You guys said Munah got over a hundred.”
There there Shane, you’ll catch up in time. Maybe.
Meanwhile, as Shane is doing his scenes, actress Munah Bagharib is busy doing something equally as important…
We move on to the next scene, where Shane and Munah are supposed to be playing video games at home.
This may seem like an innocuous scene, but it quickly escalates into some heated action on the couch. Shane has really flexible hamstrings, it seems. Maybe he should consider being a yoga teacher some day?
Time for the next scene – it’s a drunk confession one and Shane has to sing a song and do a dance. He nails it, even if his pants are a little restrictive.
Shane and Munah veer off the script a little and end up in very questionable positions. Shane also finds it in himself to start twerking (giving Miley a run for her money), even with his restrictive pants which are a size too small. The crew tries to contain their laughter behind the camera, but the cameraman Patrick is not as amused.
“Aiyah have to move again? The lighting must change!” he grumbles.
We wrap up with the last scene for the day. Shane is supposed to be picking up Munah at her place, hence the door scene. The door was being quite belligerent though, and kept shutting too fast. Someone from the crew squats behind the door (in a manner befitting of an illegal immigrant) and holds it in place.
Be sure to catch It’s a Date! Tutorials on clicknetwork.tv/itsadate, starting 22nd October 2013.
What Inspires Me
Sorry I know it’s been a while since my last update. The usual excuse would apply – I’ve been very busy, etc. Coupled with the fact that I’m not a natural writer, so blogging is really tough for me!
It’s already a struggle trying to post stuff on my Twitter, but I’m trying… Although lately I’ve taken more to Instagram because I don’t have to read or write much. I’m a visual person so reading plain text bores me.
Lately many people have asked how I come up with ideas for my shows/videos, so I got inspired to write about what inspires me.
They inspire me so much creatively but I don’t think they even realize just how much.
You see my dad is probably one of the funniest people I know, but he doesn’t try to be funny – he just is.
My siblings and I started compiling some of my dad’s quotes over the years, and here’re a few. (He says it all with a completely serious straight face btw)
“You know where the safest place to hide your money is? In your underpants. That’s why you should always buy the ones with a little pocket.”
“I need a cap to keep my ears warm. Like the kind murderers wear. What are they called? Oh yes – beanies.”
“Huh why is this calendar so small? Only a mouse can read it. Siao!”
“Why are your shoes furry? Did you chop up a little lamb and make it into a boot?”
Compared to my dad, my mom’s a lot more normal, but she’s like the straight character vs. my dad’s eccentric one – just like in a comedy duo.
One night my mom felt a sudden sense of uneasiness, and shortly after, she discovered that a huge glass pane in the house had shattered. The next morning she got a call that my sister (who was living in the US at that time) had gotten into a car accident.
When she told my dad about her premonition…
DAD: I believe you have ESP. Not many people have it you know. You have the gift.
MOM: CHOY AH!!! I don’t want this kind of thing lah! Ask me to predict all the bad things that will happen?!? CHOY LAH!!!
DAD: Well, you can’t choose to have the ESP. You either have it or you don’t. And you have it.
I’ve always found myself drawn to things that are a little weird and unconventional since I was young. Maybe it’s because I was an odd, awkward kid myself – I’m not sure. But I remember always having an affinity for things that other kids didn’t like.
My favourite character from Muppet Babies wasn’t Miss Piggy, Kermit, or even Gonzo. I loved Animal (pink monster, far right). Actually I was also drawn to the strange egghead man with no eyes and one strand of hair (fourth from the left), but he wasn’t as famous and I never knew his name.
My favourite Looney Tunes character wasn’t even in the main cast.
It was this giant furry monster called Gossamer. My brother even bought me a giant Gossamer stuffed toy once for my birthday. I was 18.
Favourite dog? Golden Retrievers are cute, but I’d still pick a Bull Terrier over it any day.
I’m not quite sure what this says about me, but I guess I’m drawn to life’s little quirks and oddities, which are a constant source of inspiration for my work.
I watch more hours on YouTube than I do traditional TV. I love how you have such a wide spectrum of content online, and even the most random videos can spark off my next idea.
Most people do Google searches but I do YouTube searches, and I’ve watched everything from popular music videos to white noise. I guess it’s also because I much prefer watching a video to reading an article.
(Once I was asked in an interview what someone should do if he can’t fall asleep, and I didn’t know because I never have problems sleeping. So I YouTubed it and that’s how I ended up with videos of white noise.)
Anyway, one of my favourite YouTube stars is GloZell; I think she’s absolutely hilarious. Watch and you’ll see why.
Last but not least…
The People Around Me
My husband, my siblings, my friends and colleagues. I have a colourful group of people in my life and they’re a constant source of inspiration. Sometimes they give me actual usable suggestions, other times ideas pop into my head just by being around them.
So I guess life itself inspires me, and I see interesting ideas every day, everywhere, in everyone. Most of the time, I’ll see something and my thought process will be something like this:
1. I wonder what would happen if…
2. Can I make it happen? (Most of the time the answer is – are you crazy of course not)
3. But IF the answer is yes, then I make it happen.
The best ideas mean nothing if they just linger in your head, and I’ve always believed that at the end of the day, the idea is just 5% - the remaining 95% is execution.
Funniest Video Comments on clicknetwork
We receive a ton of comments on our videos every day, and over the years I’ve encountered a wide range – from the really friendly pleasant ones to the super rude. Then you have everything in between, and some of them are actually quite entertaining.
An overwhelming majority of our viewers don’t leave comments. We generally receive about 100 comments per 50,000 views on a video, which means only about 0.2% of people watching leave comments.
So most are actually silent viewers that show their love in other ways such as retweeting, reposting, liking, and simply coming back to watch more videos.
Anyway, back to the people that leave comments…they’re an interesting bunch, and here’re some of my favourite types of commenters.
Sadly they’re everywhere, but especially prevalent online and around young women. Here’s a comment left on a “Xiaxue’s Guide To Life” episode where she learns how to make ice-cream. Sounds innocent? NOT TO A PERVERT.
Actually quite funny if you visualize the scene literally: Wendy’s entire face covered in Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge ice-cream, Mike standing there holding the empty tub with a spoon looking at her “ice-cream face”…
The Bad English Teachers
These are people who love criticizing the hosts for having bad English, but seriously??
And here’s another one…
English Nazis may pick on “dictation” and “grammer” among other violations.
The Conspiracy Theorists
They’re the ones who always read too much into everything, and quite frankly, give us a lot more credit than we deserve.
As crazy as it sounds, we really did make her squeeze in the backseat with the two guys.
The First Commenter
You’ll see this on many videos – people who take great pride in being the first to leave a comment. I find their enthusiasm quite endearing actually, but I don’t think others feel the same way.
People can get so heated in online arguments because we can’t see or know who we’re insulting, and it almost dehumanizes the whole “fight”. Oh why can’t we all just get along?
Love the last comment about Sg forum.
The Multiple Personality Haters
These are the ones that keep coming back to post (usually hateful) comments posing as different people. But according to their IP addresses that show up in our log, they’re all the same person.
The Ones That Don’t Get It
In this video, Jem mentions how “it’s ridiculously hot, like 50 degrees out, I checked before I left the house” (obviously being sarcastic). But clearly not everyone understands sarcasm.
These observant commenters enjoy scrutinizing and highlighting details like the exact second in the video where a sweaty armpit was visible, or a bit of underwear was exposed etc.
We So Ghetto
When you’re not one of the big boys, you don’t have as much money for production equipment. But the show must go on, so we improvise with ghetto production solutions. Here’s a look at how to do this.
The basics that you’ll need:
1. YouTube/Google (free)
2. Lots of gaffer tape (cheap)
What we’ve done:
Car Camera Mount
There’s this interview show on clicknetwork called “In The Backseat” which basically involves the guest chatting with the host in the backseat of my car.
Actually this idea came about because we don’t have a studio set large/nice enough for interviews, so to get around that we decided to do the interview in my car instead.
Anyway, we needed to find a way to mount a camera on the car to get shots like this:
Host Sara interviewing YouTube star Ryan Higa in the backseat of my car. I remember him saying “Hey that’s a cool car rig!” and I liked him even more.
I recommend using at least 3 different colours of gaffer tape to help up the ghetto-factor.
A teleprompter is a must-have for any news show, but it’s also really expensive (last I checked it costs over $5000).
So when we started producing “Now You Know”, we googled “How to make your own teleprompter” and built one out of old boxes, a cheap computer monitor, a black cloth, a piece of glass, and of course…gaffer tape.
All you need after that is to download a teleprompter software for your laptop that will actually run your script on-screen. We’re using Presentation Prompter although there’re many other options out there.
Expensive professional studio teleprompter
Ghetto teleprompter. Make sure you balance all the items precariously on top of a shaky Ikea table for the full effect.
Back view. An A4 printer paper box makes an excellent base for the ghetto teleprompter.
When we started scene.sg, we needed to take lots of product shots for our articles with a clean background like how the pros do it. This photo is from our Best Gourmet Popcorn article, and it was taken in our ghetto lightbox.
Super nice professional lightbox that costs approximately 2 million dollars. (Just look at the high quality door hinges…wow, just wow.)
Ghetto lightbox made from an old printer box. People throw away boxes like these all the time not knowing their true value. Take advantage of their ignorance; these are truly diamonds in the rough.
These are used to weigh down light stands, C-stands etc. so they don’t topple over when clumsy production people trip on stuff.
Real sandbags that are proudly made in USA.
Actually real sandbags aren’t that expensive (about $20 to $30 each) but they’re so not ghetto. That’s why you absolutely need to make your own sandbags. Get the bags from any army supplies store, just add sand, plastic bags, and wrap them tightly with gaffer tape.
If you wrap them neatly you can even make them look like bags of illegal drugs.
Our Office Hamster’s Incredible Escape
6 months ago, we bought a hamster for the office and named her Nudge.
Ok I don’t know if it’s one of those things where every parent always thinks their baby is the cutest in the world…but Nudge really was very cute and had the quirkiest personality!
She even had her own live web show and we put up videos of her silliness every now and then. Over time, she earned her fair share of fans who watched her antics and even discussed her weight gain like they do of our other show hosts.
Nudge’s suicide attempt
Nudge breaks her wheel
Nudge slips and falls off her platform
So it seems only fitting that a hamster like Nudge would leave us in the most dramatic fashion.
Flashback to 2 months ago. One morning, we discovered Nudge was missing from her tank. We frantically looked around the office and thankfully we found her running under one of our desks. Minor panic but she was safely back in her tank soon after.
There were only 2 holes in her tank, so we figured she probably escaped by balancing on top of her wheel long enough to leap to the edge of Hole #1? Improbable but not impossible.
So as a preventative measure, we sealed Hole #1 with tape (and poked tiny holes in the tape for ventilation), but Hole #2 was left open.
A few days ago, we discovered she was missing again. The tape covering Hole #1 was still intact which meant she could’ve only escaped from Hole #2. Which also meant she climbed to the top of her water tank, leapt a distance about 4 times her height to grab on to the edge of the hole, pulled herself up, then jumped off to freedom.
We searched everywhere in the office but she was nowhere to be found, so she probably slipped under the gap of our office door and ran off. Either that or someone kidnapped her from the tank. I can’t think of any other explanation.
It’s been a few days so we’ve come to terms with the fact that she’s never coming back. We can’t even buy another hamster at this point in time, because no matter what, the new hamster will never be as special as Nudge
Nudge’s now empty tank
Anyway I can’t believe I just wrote a whole blog post about a hamster. If anyone spots a white hamster running around the Bugis area please return her to us. Sigh, she might even have made it across the border to JB by now who knows. And if someone really kidnapped her, that is just really warped who does that?!! Give her back!!!
Why did SHE get chosen over ME?
I get asked this question a lot – what do you look for when casting someone for a show?
It’s usually a combination of many factors, but here’re 3 main things that matter.
This is undoubtedly the #1 most important thing – you can be the most talented and beautiful person but if you’re unprofessional, you won’t go far.
For example, if you show up late or change your audition timeslot more than once without a reasonable and believable reason, there’s a good chance you won’t get a callback.
Being professional during the audition tells us you’re going to be professional over a long-term commitment (e.g. a show). Nobody likes to work with difficult, flaky, unreliable divas.
Some of the best excuses I’ve heard for being late to auditions are:
“So sorry I thought today was tomorrow.”
“Phone died and so I lost track of time.”
“I couldn’t leave the house because this morning my mother left the house without her keys…went to market…didn’t bring phone…neighbour recently got robbed…etc etc etc.”
(For a TV show looking for bikini models) “I haven’t found the right bikini yet.”
It’s a given that looks matter if you want to be on screen, so I won’t even state the obvious. Fact is that it’s a shallow world we live in and most people like to watch good-looking (or at least pleasant-looking) people on screen. But apart from looking decent, you need to have personality.
If you look good but you’re boring, you probably won’t get chosen either. Your looks will only interest viewers for the first minute but if you don’t have any substance/personality to back it up, people will click out.
Personality can be any (or a combination) of the following: funny, bitchy, quirky, opinionated, candid, animated, unusual, but most importantly – comfortable being yourself and being real on camera.
Casting people use the term “X Factor” all the time. To me, it means you have that ability to stand out from the crowd, and then keep people captivated.
This is based on the role we’re casting for. You may be all of the above, but if you somehow don’t fit the role, you won’t get a callback.
E.g. We’re looking for a host for a beauty show and you’ve got #1 and #2, BUT…you’re a guy. Or we need a host for a heartland budget shopping show and you’ve got #1 and #2, BUT…you’re American.
Not that those are impossible options but they’re just not ideal options. You may however get a callback for another show in the future if the role suits you better.
Here’s a video we did on how to ace an audition. I happen to think it’s pretty funny but that could be because I wrote it and I’m deliberately biased.
A Week With clicknetwork
Can YOU see the biffles rainbow?
Hello clicknetwork-ers, hacking into the system and stealing a blogpost was not easy. Be very grateful. We’re the interns from Malaysia, Safira and Isabella, and we’ve been
emotionally blackmailed asked nicely by Gillian to come up with a blogpost of what it’s like to work here for a week. So here goes.
No, we’re just kidding stop glaring at us, G. No but really, here it goes.
We started on Monday, so that went how all first days go — awkward and trying to melt into the wall, which doesn’t work because it’s in this shade of grey neither Isabella or I could pull off. So we just kind of dodged everyone’s steps and tried not to get in the way and then, suddenly, BAM.
Checking out her perfection, yes?
I know, right? Qiu Qiu (I’m still not sure I’m pronouncing it right), came in to shoot an episode of Budget Barbie! She’s the qiutest, you just kind of want to squee at her, but then you realise that’s socially inappropiate and will probably get you a restraining order so you don’t.
She bought a ton of stuff for around a hundred bucks, and pointed out some awesome places — Bella and I were making notes, and hit Orchard Street right after work, especially since the week’s episode covered the GSS. Qiu Qiu modeled her giveaways, which was brilliant, and she was so lovely.
Working hard...or hardly working?
And I ran into Singaporean slang for the first time? The scene went something like this:
QIU QIU: –very atas shops–
SAFIRA (thinks, looking up at the ceiling): There are shops upstairs?
See, ’cause atas means up in Malay, so I was kinda confused. Now, I’m just using it for everything. I’m waiting for Bella to punch me in the face once it gets too annoying for her.
I found it super interesting to look at the process of filming an episode like that — filmography and photography aren’t exactly my forte
so what are you doing here omg — but there was reflective green screens and lights and music and several takes of everything.
I also came to the disheartening realisation that all Singaporeans will forever be slimmer and Qiuter than me.
–Oh, and Bella may or may not have made some kind of banner for the website, I dunno, wasn’t paying attention. (Bella: I did… the banner for the blog. WHY DOESN’T ANYONE ACKNOWLEDGE ME?!)
(c) Isabella Tan (happy?)
We went to a camera shop and I was just kind of like, okay, so, cameras, but the guy handling them was kinda cute and everyone was drooling over the high-tech equipment — I’m guessing it was a big deal, huh? But why you’d wanna pay eighty bucks plus for a dust blower is a little beyond me.
After work, we shopped, dropped and then rolled out of bed for our second day on the job.
We came into work and, there was another surprise for us. We met the (in?)famous blogger Xiaxue, a.k.a. Wendy. She looked cute in the orange top with the heart, and Isabella and I were super stoked to meet her. (And congratulate her on calling out all those men on her blog.)
Casually working an apron like a skirt. What a boss.
We were there at Hatched, which apparently makes only egg dishes. I’m trying to take preventative measures for high cholesterol so I avoided majority of the dishes and peered in through this tiny window to watch them all filming. Xiaxue looked like she was having a lot of fun, and then she came over and ordered a panna cotta — which was really good. I recommend it. Unless you’re dieting. But then, I’d probably still recommend it — you’re just also not advised to take my advice.
The Head Chef there was a little nervous — who wouldn’t be with the two cameras, intense lighting and someone as adorable as Xiaxue next to them? — but he was pretty cool. It was interesting to see all the techniques my (temporary?) co-workers had to deploy — and all the awkward, high angles we needed to put the camera in to get the best shots. But we did, and the end result was even more eggs — with some salad and English muffins and stuff (eggs Benedict, I think).
It was an eggshellent dish.
There was talk about chicken menstruation that was, plainly, terrifying and has probably put me off eggs forever, but hey, it was a good day.
They're firm on the outside and runny on the inside, y'know?
We got really great behind-the-scenes shots and stills, so those should be up as well — check them out! Being there for the filming was great; I can officially check it off my 100-things-to-do-before-I-die list. Being there for an episode of Xiaxue’s Guide To Life.
The result of three days non-stop shopping and walking and staying up ’til 3am, is coming into work looking half-dead, with ridiculous bags under eyes. Kids, don’t try this at home.
We crawled in through the door, and got down to writing/photo-editing, from the events of the past few days. Isabella’s stellar editing and shots are absolutely brilliant, so go check them out!
We also hit the gym facilities in the building to burn off all the food we’d been eating.
BOOBIES. KUKUBIRDS. PERVERT.
That basically summarised our 1 hour session with Don Richmond. (Apparently, it’s less sensational than usual.)
Okay, in all seriousness, the hour with Don highlights just how difficult it is — I think I tore my lip trying not to laugh out loud. And they have to do this on a weekly basis. It was absolutely brilliant and shot with a new camera; the 5D mark 3, so everyone was fiddling with that.
-insert fangirl screams-
The lighting, the backdrop, the atmosphere — all of it was incredibly different to when we shot Budget Barbie with Qiu Qiu. This session of Now You Know covered a ton of things, from the Buxom Bandit to the Pink Dot thing that was on Saturday. There were so many takes I could probably mime majority of the words once I see the episode. We really hope you guys enjoy it, when it comes out, because shooting this was a lot fun.
Can we get Don a catchphrase? "Boobies" works, I think. It's like Bazinga but with breasts.
Today was our last day. It’s been so amazing and insightfu-
Hey guys Bella here I just took over the keyboard and Safira is now lying on the ground twitching. Just thought I should write something for the last day here as I kinda didn’t do much but take photos for this blogpost and that makes me kinda sad. Just a little.
It’s been a fantastic week and we really got an amazing chance to see how a real-life production studio functions. Gillian is crazy, she’s doing 1920382 things at once and I’m surprised she has no grey hairs from all the stress. Everyone here is a team but works together like a family and we really respect that. They all have their own roles to play but everyone is constantly learning new things every day and improving their own skills.
To say it’s been a pleasure would, maybe, be slightly insulting. It’s been an honour to be part of the clicknetwork team and I know that they’re just going to get bigger and better. All the creative juices in this office are just pouring out from under the doors and it’s clear to anybody just how efficient and wonderful they all are. We’re going to miss them (and the shopping) a lot but we know that this won’t be the last time we’re going to be together…
*cue evil echoey laughter*
Okay, I’m back now. God. Okay, so basically the summary of that verbal vomit is: WE LOVE YOU CLICKNETWORK. Thank you so much, Gillian, for such an amazing opportunity and a great week!
- Safira + Isabella
p.s. We now can’t erase the image of Don saying “boobies”. Ever.
How Xiaxue Got To The Top
I met Wendy/Xiaxue in 2005 for a TV show I directed called “Girls Out Loud”. That was the start of an eventful 7-year journey with her, documenting her life as part of my work and gaining a friendship along the way.
I’ve captured the most significant moments in her life on a show called “Xiaxue’s Guide To Life” that has been running for over 122 episodes and counting. Over the years, I’ve been there for her first tattoo, first driving lesson, nose job, surprise wedding proposal, wedding ceremony, her first home, and will be there when she becomes a mom. Sometimes I feel like an older sister, who just so happens to exploit her life events for public entertainment.
Wendy and I at the Istanbul airport en route to an Internet TV conference in Georgia
I’ve seen her grow from someone few could take seriously, to a respected influencer that turned blogging into a full-fledged (and lucrative) career. Sure, she does have her detractors, but I don’t think anyone can deny the incredible influence she has with her social media arsenal. (If they do, they’re probably just not very clued in.)
Person who lives under a rock
So how did Wendy do it?
1. She is shamelessly honest.
How many of us are willing to share our lives so openly to the public? Wendy is VERY comfortable being herself and putting her life on show.
She loves the attention and makes no apologies for who she is. She’s real, doesn’t self-censor, is able to laugh at herself, and isn’t afraid to expose her vulnerabilities.
By being so, she has made herself relatable and her fans grow attached to her because they feel like they know her.
She wears her emotions on her sleeve and what you see is really what you get with her – whether in person, online, in front or behind the camera.
This kind of authenticity is very hard to come by.
Wendy sans makeup right before her nose job
2. She is professional (in general and just enough).
She is one of the biggest procrastinators I know and is horrible at meeting deadlines for her blog advertorials (sorry Wendy but you know this is true).
However, when the advertorial draft comes in, it is never a half-assed job and I’ve never heard a client complain about her work. She has many repeat clients, and even more new ones, because at the end of the day she always delivers results.
Outside of her blog, she has proven to be dependable and consistent over the years. I know I can always count on her to execute what I need on camera. Come to think of it, I don’t think she has ever had an “off-day” – maybe just not as lively when we have early morning shoots, but she always gives me plenty of good material to work with.
3. She is a lot smarter than she looks.
She may not have a university degree and is interested in frivolous things, but she’s a lot smarter than most people give her credit for.
One of her greatest strengths is that she’s an excellent judge of character. This has helped her cut through the bullshit, troublemakers, and time-wasters.
She surrounds herself with people that are good for her, thus minimizing negative drama in her life. It’s easier to get ahead when the road is smooth.
Cried when she got new highlights? Guess she must be a bimbo then.
4. She understands how to communicate in this medium.
Being funny, authentic, and having natural writing talent definitely help. But social media is a different animal altogether. Wendy knows how to write in a style that’s easy to read and digest. She writes in short sentences, uses simple language and tone, and is able to articulate herself in a clear and relatable manner.
Just like there’s a skill and science to writing a movie screenplay, the same goes for writing in social media. A lot of it comes naturally to her, but I think she has also subconsciously honed her craft over the years.
5. She is a positive and happy person.
We all have ups and downs in our lives, but I’ve never seen Wendy get upset for long. She doesn’t have the best life, but is thankful for what she has and makes the best of it.
I’ve always believed that positivity attracts success. It also surrounds you with like-minded people that will further amplify your success.
6. She treats people right.
Is she a bitch? Yes she can be. She used to shoot her mouth off a lot more when she was younger, but I think she has mellowed somewhat with age.
If you piss her off, she won’t hold back – you (or someone) will know about it.
BUT, she’s also the type of person who will be nice to you if you’re nice to her. To put it simply, she knows how to 做人.
Wendy may be fiery, but she’s not a loose canon.
Outside of work, she’s a fiercely loyal and protective friend.
7. She is consistent.
You can’t expect to be an overnight success, and Wendy has stuck it out for many years to get to this point. (She started blogging in 2003)
Also, her persona has been consistent, because she has always been herself – nothing more and nothing less.
8. She works very hard for what she wants.
When she wants something bad enough, she will work very hard for it. E.g. She is very very very vain and knows she wasn’t born beautiful, so she worked (and is still working) very hard to improve on her looks. I think she looks much better than she did when we first met, so I’d say it has paid off.
Screenshot of Wendy in her first show (2006) vs. a recent video (not Photoshopped)
Most people don’t realize this, but she puts a lot of thought and long hours into her blog entries. It may feel like she fired it off in one sitting, but I know she does a lot of refinement and editing before publishing. She just makes it look easy and seamless.
Actually, if she wanted to be super rich badly enough, she would’ve built a social media empire by now. But I think being pretty ranks higher on her priority list.
In conclusion, there’s no textbook formula for this. Wendy never planned this; it just happened organically. The social media universe weeds out the fakes, so you can’t orchestrate how to become a Xiaxue – you either have it or you don’t. And if you do, you just need to play your cards right. If it was meant to be, it’ll all come naturally to you and everything will fall into place.
All About Smells
If there’s anything common among us at the office, it’s probably our obsession with smells. It’s beyond your imagination. Almost not a single day has gone by when someone hasn’t commented:
“Did you smell that?”
“Ew the office smells like _________ (something awful)”
“Where’s that smell coming from…”
Well, it all started when someone came into the office and commented that it smelled like pee. That was…DA BOMB.
So we started the smell-good journey by copying remedies that worked in other offices…
(15 minutes later) “Mmm the room does smell better!”
(15 weeks later) “Are we numb to the smell, or is it not working anymore? Maybe the office is too big for it. Hmm.”
The following spinning thingy came in. The idea is – put water in it, add some lavender or ocean-smelling chemical, and when it spins, the air smells better.
Noisy, but didn’t really work. Meh. Or maybe it did. We comforted ourselves by saying “Yeah lah, I think it helps abit…right????? Abit better now!”
The constant setbacks of making the office smell better got to us. There was even a brief discussion about What do you think would work? And boss even googled “How to make the office smell like a spa” or something along that line.
Next thing you know, we are adopting the toilets success story.
Every 15 minutes… PSSST! *spray*
That was the one addition that CHANGED MY LIFE–
I smell of lavender all day.
And sometimes during brief moments when I smell something musty or pee-ish, PSSST!
…I can’t smell anything anymore. AHH~ Maybe that’s how it’s suppose to work!!!!
On the right, though, you can see Nudge’s (our office hamster) cage. And I came to the conclusion that poop plus pssst smells really awful. Maybe we should try an oxygen tank! *inhales*
Then, boss brought in IKEA candles. Didn’t work, and I didn’t get to take photos. But boss came back from a meeting, and was disappointed by how quickly the candles burnt away.
Then boss tried another type of candle…that made Cherie and I think of sour plum constantly.
She feels like she’s constantly smelling delicious sour plum.
I feel like I’m constantly eating sour plum! Like omg, so overwhelming. *slaps forehead*
What started as a tiiiiny little problem became a scent contest, taking place in our office. Since we’re on the topic…how about bringing in something scientific?
We welcomed the atas-and-you-won’t-understand-how-I-work looking ionizer.
What I was educated on was that this machine ionizes the old smell particles in the air, makes them heavy and sort of fall to the ground.
Me: So we have to sweep the floor to get rid of them?
Cherie: *look of disbelief* [Facial Expression Cue: what kind of question was that, yo?]
Boss: …yeah~ once in a while when the vacuum lady comes. *straight face*
That look on Cherie’s face was PRICELESS. I told Tre the funny science theory on the escalator today, and she gave me the O_O look of surprise too.
Super happy. =P
But apparently it smells of metal if we leave it on for too long. (Included FIJI water in the shot cos it’s awesome too!)
So I brought a mini lavender spray that helped me feel better about all the metal….chopsticks…bowl of water…toilet spray and candles.
There was a day when Steph took the bottle and sprayed it into the air-con. She was certain the bad smell came from the air-con. Somehow the office still smelled awful this morning though. =(
You know which scent was the most effective?
No one knows what the next step will be. Maybe something creative like…
Sea salt spray?
Hmm. We need another scent meeting soon.
This post was stolen (with permission) from the author’s personal blog.
UPDATE: We got 2 new Ionizers from Sharp that don’t make the office smell like metal, and seem to have won our battle with THE SMELL!
BUT…we can only turn them on at night because for some reason they make 2 people in our office feel nauseous. -_-