The main plotline of the movie was written around the famous general Song Yi and the king of the state, Cao Shijing. The storyline between the Song brothers was just a short side plot.
Thanks to the help of General Song Yi, Cao Shijing unified the divided states and ascended to the throne. The years of internal strife and chaos made people in various places hard to live. The small northern countries even sent troops to make trouble.
Therefore, Song Yi followed the king’s orders and led his troops to the north. He distributed relief food along the way and finally arrived at the northern border camp.
At the closed border, the advance troops distributed food to the local beggars and refugees according to Song YI’s orders. Song Zhao, played by Ji Li, was among the pile of beggars.
“Everybody, listen to me!” The assistant director held up a loudspeaker and shouted to the group. “Once the shooting starts later, the soldiers will give you food. You all have to rush and grab at them. The more ferocious, the better! After grabbing it, you have to eat it for me. Do you understand?”
The beggars had been hungry for a long time and the army suddenly gave out food. There must be the scene of competing for food.
The voices of the group actors rang out in response.
The assistant director jumped off the platform and walked to Ji Li’s side. “Do you remember what I just said? There will be a moving camera following you later. Pay attention to your position. There will also be a close-up of your face at the end.”
“Learn to be smart. Don’t think you have any privileges just because you temporarily joined the crew.”
The assistant director had also heard about the matter of ‘replacing him if he doesn’t act well’ and hinted, “It is best to pass this in one go and leave a good impression on Director Zheng.”
“I understand, thank you.”
This scene wasn’t difficult and the close-up wasn’t hard for Ji Li. He had originally thought about passing it immediately.
Qin Yue saw the assistant director giving a speech to the group from a long distance. After searching for a while, he found his ‘brother’ in the midst of the beggars.
Zheng Anxing sat in front of the monitor and told him, “Qin Yue, come sit down.”
A staff member brought over two chairs and Qi An sat down. “Is it about to start filming?”
“Soon.” Zheng Anxing pointed to Ji Li in the upper left corner of the monitor with a satisfied smile. “This actor looks handsome on the model card. I almost didn’t recognize him in his beggar’s appearance just now.”
The implication was that he was satisfied with Ji Li.
Qin Yue drank his cup of coffee and didn’t deny it. “Let’s talk about it later. The external image is important but acting skills are the key.”
Zheng Anxing heard the expected answer and glanced at Qi An. The latter just shrugged helplessly.
He didn’t know if Ji Li was lucky or unlucky? The first group scene was actually being watched by Qin Yue.
Look at the entire crew. Who didn’t know that Movie Emperor Qin had extreme requirements for details of acting? If he wasn’t satisfied then they would have to remake it.
Such a high standard was pressure for actors as well as a rare opportunity to sharpen their skills.
The assistant director arranged everything properly and came back. “Director Zheng, we’re ready to shoot.”
Zheng Anxing made an ‘okay’ gesture and shouted into the walkie-talkie. “All departments, get ready to shoot. Field affairs, hit the slate.”
Ji Li, who was at the shooting site, heard this and quickly sat down. He curled up, burying his head in his knees while pressing his hands against his stomach.
The pain of hunger became clearer with this action and in a daze, he heard the director call out, “Action.”
The sound of axles came from far to near, finally stopping in front of the beggars at the gate of the city.
There was a commotion around him and Song Zhao, played by Ji Li, raised his head weakly. His long-term exhaustion meant even the light in his eyes was scattered.
It was a while before he set his gaze on the soldier on the horse. The other party jumped off the horse and motioned to the entourage behind him to lift the bamboo cage cover, revealing a large amount of dry food.
For the sake of realism, the crew had prepared hundreds of pancakes in advance and deliberately air-dried them for a night.
The dried pancakes didn’t look good but they still made the beggars instantly excited.
It was a cart full of pancakes and they seemed able to smell the scent of wheat. Ji Li swallowed the saliva in his mouth and almost poked the bamboo basket full of dry food with his greedy gaze.
Director Zheng saw this picture on the monitor and a hint of surprise flashed in his eyes.
This kid was quite good. The throat rolling wasn’t exaggerated. It was subtle, like a natural reaction. However, it could easily be seen in his eyes that he was moved by the food.
Zheng Anxing glanced at Qin Yue beside him, who looked serious as always.
The voice of the leading soldier rang out, “We are the Red Wing Army of the country. According to General Song Yi’s order, we came here in advance to distribute relief food to everyone…”
Before he finished, the beggars rushed forward in an out of control manner. They followed one after another and almost overturned the cart.
“Give it to me!”
“Give it to me!”
“Don’t grab it!”
“Give me something to save my child. He is really starving to death!”
There were chaotic arguments in his ears. Ji Li held his breath tightly and used his best effort to grab half of a small pancake. Then he crawled out of the crowd.
It was probably due to the fierce competition but his pace was a bit awkward. However, his eyes were full of unprecedented excitement as he stared at the food in his hand.
Suddenly, someone slammed hard against his shoulder and the small piece of pancake fell unexpectedly to the dusty ground. It was soon stepped on by a short-sighted beggar.
Ji Li was stunned.
Then there was a muffled noise from behind him.
The group actors had tried too hard and overturned the cart. All the pancakes that hadn’t been distributed fell to the ground.
The assistant director frowned when he saw this scene. It was messed up, messed up! The group scene and Ji Li too. Sure enough, this was an inexperienced newcomer. He couldn’t act when something accidentally fell to the ground?
“Director Zheng, this…” The moment the assistant director was about to speak, Qin Yue interrupted from the front row. “Don’t call cut. Wait.”
Zheng Anxing seemed to have noticed something as well. He instinctively leaned forward, his gaze fixed on the upper left corner of the monitor just like Qin Yue.
This was the position of Ji Li’s camera.
Song Zhao, played by Ji Li, was stunned for a few seconds. Then he stiffly squeezed his empty palms, eyes wide with disbelief.
Immediately afterward, he knelt on the ground and his hands indiscriminately gathered the crushed piece of pancake like he was holding a baby. He laughed twice in a silly manner before shoving the broken pieces of pancakes into his mouth like crazy.
The pancakes that had fallen to the ground and trampled on were covered with sand and dust, not to mention how dirty they were. Yet he didn’t seem to care. He squeezed all the broken pieces into his mouth until his cheeks were bursting.
His eyes gradually became bloodshot. The moment his hands were empty of food, he covered his mouth tightly. He was like a ferocious, hungry beast trapped at a critical point, afraid that someone would snatch the food from his mouth.
Several experienced group actors saw Ji Li’s actions and immediately continued to grab the pancakes on the ground. The rest of the people were driven to follow suit and rushed to grab the food.
This chaotic scene seemed extraordinarily real.
The food had fallen to the ground and they didn’t hear the director’s NG. The onlookers were surprised at first. Then they stared in a dumbfounded manner at Ji Li’s crazy behavior before fully understanding.
Ji Li played the role of a beggar, a war-torn refugee. The country was full of chaos and disputes but in the end, it was the people who really suffered.
Their homes were destroyed and people fled. There was never a stable place to live or a source of food. Millions of people died from either war or famine.
In this case, would there be any refugees who hated dirty food?
For them, it was a chance to survive.
“Cut! Passed!” Director Zheng Anxing sighed with relief. Very good, this was the effect he wanted.
“Qin Yue, what do you think?” He asked Qin Yue next to him. It wasn’t that he was a director who had no opinion, but the latter was equally professional when it came to filming.
Zheng Anxing wasn’t the only director in the industry who said that Qin Yue could become an excellent director if he wasn’t an actor.
“As long as you think it is fine.” Qin Yue responded in a calm voice but his eyes moved from the monitor to the shooting location and slightly darkened.
The moment he heard the director shout ‘cut’, Ji Li had quickly spat out the food in his mouth. It was just that the dry pancake residue got stuck in his throat, choking him. He couldn’t stop coughing.
The sandy grains in his mouth hadn’t been cleaned yet and Ji Li’s entire face distorted with discomfort.
“Get him a bottle of water.” Qin Yue blurted out. “Hurry up.”
It was only then that the field affairs person reacted. He held a bottle of mineral water and quickly ran to Ji Li’s side.
Ji Li saw someone helping and immediately cast a grateful gaze over. He crouched by the sewer and repeatedly rinsed his mouth before thanking the field affairs person.
“You’re welcome. You acted very well.”
Ji Li’s lips curved up before he looked at the director and Qin Yue not far away. After a moment of hesitation, he walked over and asked, “Director, Qin… Teacher Qin Yue, can I watch the replay of the scene just now?”
It was Ji Li’s habit to examine his own work after shooting. Even if he was just an inconspicuous supporting role this time, he didn’t want to take it lightly.
“Of course you can.” Zheng Anxing’s impression of Ji Li was very good. He asked the staff to bring over a small stool and let the other person sit between him and Qin Yue.
“Thank you, Director.” Ji Li sat down and stared at himself on the replay.
The young man sat in front to the left. At this moment, Qin Yue could only see a small head with a wig on. Qin Yue’s gaze unknowingly moved from the monitor to him.
The hair on top of the other person’s head was slightly shaking. Compared to his acting performance just now, there was a contrast…
The moment he had this thought, Zheng Anxing interrupted him. “Ji Li, you got into the scene very quickly. This is a rare and valuable talent among newcomers.”
Many newcomers were nervous when they first filmed and it wasn’t easy to let go.
Ji Li smiled politely, neither denying it nor agreeing. He knew better than anyone that this ‘talent’ was actually the result of his hard work day after day.
“Ji Li, your backpack.” The field affairs person handed over his small black bag.
“Thank you.” Ji Li was tormented by the hunger in his stomach and hurriedly pulled out a small piece of bread from his bag.
He was just acting. He didn’t really intend to starve himself.
Ji Li unwrapped it while muttering, “Fortunately, we shot it on time as per the notice. I wouldn’t have been able to bear it if I couldn’t eat for a bit longer.”
The speaker didn’t mean anything but the listener realized something.
Qin Yue asked subtly, “You didn’t eat breakfast for this role?”
“I’ve controlled my food intake for the last two days and didn’t eat this morning.” Ji Li looked at Qin Yue and answered honestly.
He doesn’t think he was selling misery. All his efforts were straightforward. What couldn’t be said?
Zheng Anxing and the surrounding people looked over.
Qi An was amazed. “You are really quite something.”
Ji Li was really hungry. He was holding the bread and gnawing on it. He couldn’t speak freely so he just nodded.
From the side, the young man’s face was still dirty but his cheeks were full of movement. This added a sense of joy and he looked like a small squirrel eating.
Qin Yue had to avert his gaze, secretly controlling his laughter.
Footsteps came from the rear. Xiao Linsen, who had been sent to find an alternative actor, had come back. He was gleefully holding his phone, completely ignoring Ji Li in the front row as he opened his mouth.
“Director, Brother Qin, I’ve found an alternative actor for Song Zhao. It is Zhou Qingming, a young student of an acting school.”
“He just received a new drama some time ago right here in Hengcheng. I mentioned that you might have to change actors and the agent over there said he has no notices for his drama in the next two days. He can come to fill in.”
Qin Yue and Zheng Anxing both looked at each other and fell silent.
Just as Xiao Linsen was confused about the reason, Ji Li put away the leftover bread and turned around slowly.
Qin Yue was the biggest investor in the drama and he had more say in some aspects than the director.
Ji Li was fully aware of this and looked directly at Qin Yue. Confusion was in his clear eyes as he asked softly, “Teacher Qin Yue, did you plan to replace me at the start?”