You’d like to ask a girl out on a date. Which of these two options would you choose – mesmerize her with a cheesy pick-up line or offer her a pre-paid phone top-up?
While the latter option seems like an odd choice, it is essentially not far from the truth. This is especially so for male construction workers who go out with female domestic workers in Singapore.
In actual fact, the more pertinent issue is at which point should the man offer the top-up – during the pick-up or only during the second date?
This was a topic that was much discussed in the open audition of “Remittance” held on 29 June 2013. It took place in Dibashram, a space dedicated to migrant workers. Close to 20 men turned up for the roles of Jamal and Samir. Both of these characters are migrant South Asian construction workers.
While a few of the men had acting experience, most of these men were non-actors. “Many of the actors in the film are cast with non-actors, so Dibashram was a natural place to connect with migrant workers who might be interested in acting,” explained Joel Fendelman, writer-director of “Remittance”.
During the audition, the men took turns acting out a scene in the film script in which Samir tries to pick-up Amie. Amie mentions that she has no money left in her phone card and demands Samir that he buys her a top-up phone card to call her. Samir is accompanied by his friend Jamal, and he meets Marie who is with Amie.
It was apparent that many of the men could relate to the scene. Some had experienced it in real life, while others had friends with such experiences. Still, most of them disagreed with how the pick-up scenario currently played out in the script. Many were adamant that boyfriends would only buy top-up cards for their girlfriends from second date onwards.
With realism being a core of “Remittance”, it would be up to Joel and fellow writer-director Patrick Daly to decide how much detail they would incorporate into the final script.
Joel elaborated, “Sometimes, the dramatic story overrides the need for absolute realism, but for the most part, we try to adapt the script to represent what really happens.”