By Melissa Tay
The Straits Times
Thursday, May 22, 2014
Local actress Jesseca Liu not only acts in a new Channel U drama series, but she also wrote it.
The four-part miniseries Who Killed The Lead? is not her maiden attempt at scriptwriting. It is, however, the first script Liu has put her hand to that has made it to production.
The story follows a detective, Anthony, played by Elvin Ng, as he investigates the murder of a lead actor in a play directed by Liu's character, Huiru. Liu, 35, says:
"In the past, when I acted in the creations of others, my understanding of my roles was different.
"This time, I was completely familiar with the script, I knew how to perform this character. No matter what point the director started from, I was able to understand what he said."
The Malaysia-born actress reveals that she has had an interest in scriptwriting for some time, having "loved to write and loved to read novels since I was young".
Beginning with romance novels, she moved on to read detective stories and later to more complex philosophical tomes.
Encouraged by her previous manager, she started to write a blog and then columns for magazines, including a regular relationship column for local Chinese men's fashion magazine Nanyou.
Her first script for a television show, not surprisingly, was a romantic comedy that revolves around an editor of a fashion magazine and her relationship with a colleague. While it was never made into a show, she showed it to Mr Molby Low, WaWa Pictures' chief creative director, two years ago.
"He looked at it and gave me some feedback. After that, maybe because he knew that I like to write, he invited me to write this script," she says of the Who Killed The Lead? script, which she penned with Ng Lee Ling, the story planner of Channel U dramas such as Showhand, Marry Me and Served H.O.T.
She faced a steep learning curve.
"Because I was a scriptwriter and not a story planner, the entire concept was not mine. A lot of the scenes were already thought out by the story planner, but the content was missing. So the content, the dialogue, how to move from point A to point B - those are what the scriptwriter has to think of. Sometimes, it's like grabbing at air."
Fortunately, the experienced staff at WaWa Pictures gave her invaluable guidance. She says:
"When I write, I follow my intuition and I would write scene by scene. But, in reality, a lot of creative teams don't work like that. They write the story framework first, then split that into scenes, then further develop the scenes into a script. That is smoother."
For now at least, she prefers scriptwriting to acting even though it is the tougher of the two.
"Scriptwriting is still a very new domain for me, so there are many areas left to explore," she explains.
Liu, who is single, hopes to write more scripts "which can provide the audiences with positive energy", such as "commercial love stories which are romantic and heartwarming".
Television crew members working on shows she is starring in had better get used to her dual role.
She recalls: "When some stylists received the script for Who Killed The Lead?, they thought the scriptwriter's name had been typed wrongly."