25 September 2019

The Making of CLIF 5 for Facebook Post

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By: Irwan Shah

(Photos: Public Affairs Department)

“We have to strike a balance between drama and reality, and marry this with actual police protocols. It has to be done harmoniously and more importantly, we have to keep an open mind. That is the biggest challenge right from the beginning,” said Ms Loh Woon Woon, the Executive Producer of C.L.I.F. 5. Apart from balancing reality and dramatisation, the filming work for C.L.I.F. 5 was probably one of the most challenging productions for the Mediacorp production team and the artistes. Read on to find out more from the Executive Producer and Directors!

Starting from Scratch

When the concept for C.L.I.F. 5 was first mooted some time back in mid-2018, the team was mentally prepared for the challenges based on the experiences from the past four seasons of the C.L.I.F. police drama. But they soon realised that this time, the challenges have gone up another level as a lot of the filming work would be out at sea as C.L.I.F. 5 focusses on the Singapore Police Force’s (SPF) Police Coast Guard (PCG) and what they do to protect Singapore’s territorial waters.

Preparations began in October 2018 with the research team spending an extensive amount of time conducting ground research with the PCG and other SPF units. Apart from understanding the daytime operations, the team had to also understand what goes on after the sun sets. Together with the SPF’s C.L.I.F. 5 project team from the Public Affairs Department (PAD), the team also invested a lot of effort and time scouting for suitable filming locations all over Singapore, both on land and at sea. While the research was important for the development of the storyline, it was also equally important for their risk assessments as filming out at sea for high action scenes would be a totally different ball game for the Mediacorp team and artistes.


Photo: Executive Producer, Loh Woon Woon


There are different lingos and jargons used in our individual industries so when SPF personnel and production crew communicate, we often slip into using our regular lingos and end up not understanding each other. Thus, communication was a major obstacle at the initial stage but we got better as the production progressed,” quipped Ms Koh Shu Yi, one of the directors of C.L.I.F. 5.


The selection of the cast was also extensively discussed between Mediacorp and the SPF to ensure a

good mix of new and veteran faces as well as their suitability for the roles. With all the information gathered, the team then started on the scripting for the 20-episode drama. This was yet another intensive and challenging task as the balance between dramatization versus reality was not always aligned between the Mediacorp team and the SPF units. After rounds of ‘negotiation’ and deliberation plus several dashes of open mindedness and creativity, the script was finally perfected

and approved after six months of preparation work!


“Since the writers are not police trained, it is like throwing them a blank piece of paper. They need to put in their own imagination and it has to be realistic,” elaborated Woon Woon. “There is also a need for clear communication among the writers, the creative team, the SPF and myself. Balancing the elements of drama, reality and protocols has to be done harmoniously.”


Getting Ready

With the approved storyline and script, Woon Woon dived right into the filming preparations. To ensure that they made it on time for its debut date, the filming had to be done concurrently

by two different directors, one for the land scenes and one for the sea scenes. On top of the tight schedule, the weather and sea conditions had to be factored in to ensure the safety of everyone involved. Nevertheless, they could only keep their fingers crossed and hoped for the best as any delays could potentially affect the debut date, increase their production budget and affect the schedules of all the artistes involved. The next most important aspect was the training for the cast acting in police roles. Even though they were experienced and professional actors, learning the various police protocols and techniques was no easy feat as their training was only several crash

courses due to the actors’ limited schedule.


“Our artistes are very professional. Knowing that C.L.I.F. is a longstanding series, they hold themselves to high standards. Other than getting the techniques right at the police training sessions, the actors must always be on their toes since they are portraying themselves as police officers,” added Woon Woon.


The correct portrayal of their police roles was certainly a huge challenge as the actors had to walk a fine line between popular appeal and professional image. With the help of the SPF C.L.I.F. 5 project team, the actors got to interact with the actual police officers in the roles they were playing to understand their ‘typical police behaviour’. Woon Woon further elaborated that as she was responsible for sculpting the character’s personality, she had to impose some limitations on their

acting, to maintain that balance.



Director, Koh Shu Yi


Lights, Camera, Action

On 10 April, the two directors, Mr Oh Liang Cai and Ms Koh Shu Yi, kick-started the filming. As Shu Yi

has seasickness, all the land scenes were undertaken by her while Liang Cai got to ‘enjoy’ the sun, the rain and the sea. As expected, the filming process was fraught with many challenges, especially when the crew was out at sea. The weather was, at times, especially unforgiving, and the long filming hours and extreme heat were even more gruelling in turbulent waters, which often induced seasickness among the team and artistes. Once seasickness occurs, they have to pause the filming and allow the team to rest. Owing to the delays caused by bad weather and seasickness, there were several sessions where filming overran. But they had no choice as they had to fulfil the callsheet, which lists down the scenes to be filmed for the day. The schedule was really tight and it was also very costly to extend another day of filming out at sea.



Director, Oh Liang Cai


“We are often working at the mercy of the weather and sea conditions. On a typical day, we spend

more than 10 hours under the hot sun. If it rains, we would not be able to shoot and have to wait inside the boats or take shelter at nearby islands,” recalled Liang Cai.


Liang Cai also shared that another huge challenge was the positioning of the cameras on the boat to ensure that the action-packed scenes were well-captured without compromising the safety of those involved.


“Filming out at sea was uncharted territory for most of us in the production team,” explained Liang Cai. “The main challenge was to find a proper and effective way to mount our cameras on the PCG boats to capture the high-speed boat chase scenes while working with tight-space limitations.

We also had to ensure the safety of the team when filming as the boats can easily reach a speed of up to more than 50 knots (92 kilometres per hour) while manoeuvring at acute angles.”




Wrapping Up

On 30 July, after four gruelling months, the filming was finally completed and the two teams from SPF and Mediacorp celebrated their success with a Wrap Up Party filled with laughter and good food! Looking back on the entire process, Woon Woon and the two directors reiterated that this was one of their most challenging projects thus far. However, the journey was an enriching one as they gained new experience, learnt a lot more about what the SPF does in keeping Singapore safe, and most importantly, made many new police friends along the way!


Last Updated on 25 September 2019