The training time was not long. No one had any illusions that a movie star could be produced in a few weeks, and Ji Sheng didn’t think he had any talent beyond the ordinary in acting, so when the basic theoretical part was completed and Xie Xuanming returned to China with the finished script, Ji Sheng started to analyse and study the script of “The Drummer” directly.
Previously, Ji Sheng had only skimmed through the script; as the plot coincided with his own life experience, he didn’t read it in detail. Now that he had studied it more closely, he realised that, as it was a semi-documentary, the emotional scenes in this script were a bit out of place.
“First male lead singing a love song to second male lead in a small room?” Ji Sheng flipped through the script, “Can this be filmed? And why don’t I remember that I have done this kind of thing?”
“You have.” Xie Xuanming said.
“…well, I have.” Ji Sheng locked eyes with him for a second and compromised, “But then there is no need to shoot it so bluntly, based on life experience… I feel like I’m going to come out of the closet straight away in this drama.”
“That’s not it.” Xie Xuanming said in a joking tone, “It’s not you who wants to come out of the closet.”
The script of “The Drummer” actually didn’t depict much of the feelings of “the drummer” himself. The focus was the drummer’s sincerity and enthusiasm for his dreams. On the contrary, as the narrator, the second male lead’s perspective always expressed the kind of feeling fluctuating between appreciation and yearning, which was quite ambiguous in various scenes.
Ji Sheng, who had read the script, naturally knew that the prototype of the second male lead was Xie Xuanming. He flipped through the script and said, “Is it okay to shoot like this?… The audience can also guess which character corresponds to you.”
“It’s an adaptation.” Xie Xuanming said, “And it doesn’t matter if they guess, because it’s true that I like you.”
“Wow.” Ji Sheng put down the script and covered his chest with a smile, “How come I didn’t realise you were so good at talking about love before?”
“Finally realised?” Xie Xuanming glanced at him, “You used to be very good at everything, but your eyesight was bad.”
After he and Ji Sheng got together, he gradually let go of some of his obsessions and was able to joke generously about his sour past.
Ji Sheng naturally knew what he meant and said with a smile: “It’s okay to have a good eyesight now.”
He turned another page of the script, and couldn’t help but point at the name on it and laugh, “But this pseudonym, it’s too much.”
It was impossible for “The Drummer” to use his real name, so Ji Sheng’s name was changed to Ji Renshi, Xie Xuanming changed his name to Xie Yuan, and Sheng Kongzhi went a bit too far, turning into Sheng Mou (such-and-such).
When Ji Sheng saw the script for the first time, he smiled at this “Sheng Whatever” and said that they might as well print Sheng Kongzhi’s ID number directly in the script.
Xie Xuanming calmly explained: ” Some people fail to be human, so there’s no need to save face.”
Ji Sheng had laughed enough, sat up straight and said, “Is anyone really willing to play this role? The persona is too bad.”
Zheng Meiyun clutched the script, his hand trembling slightly.
As an 18th tier actor who had made guest appearances in various web dramas, Zheng Meiyun had been in the showbiz industry for many years. His greatest achievement was that with his looks resembling the appearance of a big star surnamed Sheng, Zheng Meiyun owned a 200-comment topic in a forum ”Does no one think Zheng Meiyun looks like Sheng Kongzhi?” One hundred and eighty of the comments were controlled by Sheng Kongzhi fans. In eighteen, fans scolded him for rubbing off the heat, and the remaining two were “dd” posted by the topic starter himself.
So to receive the resources to work with Xie Xuanming in a web drama, in a high ranking role of the third male lead was undoubtedly a big pie from the sky for the paste coffee.
Zheng Meiyun was overjoyed when he received the offer. He didn’t even read the script and agreed directly, packed his bags and quickly entered the group, starting his hapless crew life.
It was okay to have a small role, it was okay to have a poor persona, and it was okay to have a low ranking.
But no one told him that Xie Xuanming had the bad habit of making life difficult for the supporting actors, ah.
It was fine off camera, but once you get in front of the camera…
Zheng Meiyun held Ji Sheng’s hand according to the director’s instructions and wanted to cry without tears, feeling Xie Xuanming’s cold, knife-like gaze following him.
Was he acting too badly? It felt that Emperor Xie would rush over angrily in the next second and throw him down from the fifth floor.
Zheng Meiyun felt bitter cold, and suddenly remembered that when he had met Xie Xuanming for the first time, he was so excited that he bowed ninety degrees. When he raised his head, he found Xie Xuanming glancing at him up and down with these ice-cold eyes.
“Looks so similar.” Perhaps it was an illusion but Zheng Meiyun heard a biting chill in this sentence.
“What?” He asked with trepidation.
“Nothing.” As if finally remembering his manners, Xie Xuanming squeezed out a smile and reached out to shake his hand, “Welcome.”
That tone sounded like he would rather kill him than welcome him…
From that moment on, Zheng Meiyun was sincerely horrified and deeply reflected on where he had offended Emperor Xie. When he couldn’t remember, he dragged away the equally quiet but good-natured first male lead to complain.
“Does Teacher Xie hate me?” Zheng Meiyun took Ji Sheng’s hand and asked with a sorrowful face, “Every time he looks at me, it seems that I stole his wife.”
Ji Sheng: ……
He glanced at Xie Xuanming who was looking coolly from afar, and then looked down at Zheng Meiyun’s hand, pulling away with a dry smile: “How could it be, Teacher Xie is just strict. You can see that he usually takes care of new actors, right?”
This was true, Xie Xuanming was angry, but he would not intentionally leave out anyone from the cast and crew when bringing a midnight snack and milk tea. He also took care of Zheng Meiyun and brought several magazine resources on board.
Although the real reason was that it would be a bit too obvious to take care only of Ji Sheng during the shooting and might cause rumours…
Judging from the results, Xie Xuanming could almost be regarded as a generous senior who actively helped his juniors.
“Yes, maybe Emperor Xie is this kind of cold-faced and warm-hearted person…” Thinking of this, Zheng Meiyun felt a little relieved, but after a while, his face became bitter again, “But Emperor Xie’s expression is too scary. Is it because I’m too bad at acting? Is he like this with you, too?”
Ji Sheng: “……”
Ji Sheng: “Haha, maybe.”
At this moment, the atmosphere in the set was cool and desolate. Xie Xuanming held his arms crossed on his chest and looked at the two people huddling in the corner while the entire crew fell silent under his pressure.
The scene being filmed was the first male lead singing the band’s new song to the third male lead.
The director felt the cold light behind him and secretly cried in his heart, thinking: God knows why the drummer wants to sing a love song to the bass, God knows why the screenwriter wants to write about holding hands, and God knows why Xie Xuanming’s face is as green as a hat.
Fortunately, Ji Sheng and Zheng Meiyun acted well and the scene passed in just two takes. The director breathed a sigh of relief and couldn’t wait to shout “cut”.
“Phew.” Zheng Meiyun let go of Ji Sheng, smiled and fanned himself with his hand while his eyes couldn’t stop returning to Xie Xuanming, “Teacher Xie is really strict…”
Halfway through his words, he watched the cold-faced Xie Xuanming come over, put his arms around Ji Sheng’s waist and take him away. As they walked away, he lowered his head and asked softly: “Your shoulder hit the wall just now. Did you bump it? Does it hurt?…”
Zheng Meiyun was left alone, holding up his hands as if struck by lightning.
Whether Ji Sheng bumped it or not he didn’t know, but he was done anyway.
At the same time, he also vaguely realized the reason why Emperor Xie frowned at him so coldly.
Zheng Meiyun glanced down at his hands frozen in the air, and shivered in fear.
Ji Sheng walked aside with Xie Xuanming and amusedly took off the arm around his waist: “Isn’t it a reviewed script? Why are you still jealous of the actor?”
“I was jealous during the review, too.” Xie Xuanming refused to let go, grabbing Ji Sheng’s wrist in a reverse grip.
“Oh—” Ji Sheng said slowly, “Then you can turn your back and not look at it.”
Xie Xuanming narrowed his eyes dangerously and took a half step forward.
“Okay, okay.” Ji Sheng grabbed his hand and laughed, “Isn’t there a rival scene with you soon, too?”
The filming started with the emotional scenes; although “The Drummer” had a vague same-sex emotional line, it was really too vague, counting no more than five scenes. It was filmed quickly and the plot moved on.
Neither Ji Sheng nor Xie Xuanming wanted to reveal that Ji Sheng had a relationship with Sheng Kongzhi, and the script was changed accordingly. In the previous life, Ji Sheng hyped the scandal with Xie Xuanming in order to hide his relationship with Sheng Kongzhi; it was changed to Sheng Mou being suspected of private association with fans and the company made Ji Renshi block the knife using speculations on ambiguous relationship between him and Xie Yuan.
The scene that needed to be filmed was that of Ji Renshi and Xie Yuan kissing in front of the bus stop, deliberately letting the reporter take an ambiguous picture.
This scene naturally had a realistic basis. In his previous life, Ji Sheng was rumoured to have been involved in a scandal with Xie Xuanming because of this sneak photo.
The director of the web drama was one of the few close friends in Xie Xuanming’s circle that he could talk to, and he hesitated for a long time about the script before filming, but eventually his curiosity overcame his senses and he went over to Xie Xuanming and asked him carefully, “At that time, did you really kiss?”
Xie Xuanming was holding his coffee, and when he heard that he stopped drinking, raised his eyes and looked at the director coldly.
The director shrank his neck: “I’m aiming for the maximum effect… I got it, I got it, never mind…”
Xie Xuanming withdrew his gaze, took a sip of coffee, and frowned.
It was too bitter.
But Ji Sheng seemed to like this taste.
This scene needed to be shot on location at night. Ji Sheng was waiting for the crew to clear the scene and the props team to get into position. After the director gave a preparatory gesture, Ji Sheng stood by the bus stop face to face with Xie Xuanming.
Before the shooting started, Ji Sheng raised his head slightly and gestured indicating his height: “I seem to have reached your nose before, but now I only reach your chin.”
Xie Xuanming didn’t say anything in return, but only gave a low “en”.
His aura darkened, his eyes were like deep pools suppressing the swirling water underneath, imperceptibly dark and profound, as if he had already entered the scene.
Ji Sheng was also quieted by this look, and suddenly recalled some memories of his past life.
“Excuse me?” He gently pulled Xie Xuanming’s hand, “Or…”
“Action!” The director’s shout brought him back; Ji Sheng hastily stopped, the remaining words turning into a sigh that stuck in his throat.
The prop bus slowly approached, moving between the camera and the two of them.
It was almost time.
Ji Sheng exhaled softly, and at the second when the bus stopped, he took a half step forward, raised one hand to shield his face and leaned forward in an intimate speaking posture.
The evening breeze blew gently, mixed with the unique smell of gasoline of the bus, and the red letters on the sign above their heads changed from “Vehicle inbound” to “4 stops from this station.”
Ji Sheng gently pressed his lips against Xie Xuanming’s.
He tasted the bitterness of coffee on these lips.