Inteview by Anchalee Chaiworaporn on 11 November, 2010
You have already made film noirs like Sixty-Nine and Invisible Waves.
What makes you return to doing the genre again after a long break?
I had written this story long time ago, perhaps even before I wrote Nymph. Or, maybe it’s the other way around, I can’t remember but it was a long time ago. In any case, Pawas Sawasdichaimeth (Head Shot producer) called me one day asking for a project to be submitted to the Culture Ministry for Thai Khem Kaeng Fund, which, to me, is like a lucky draw. I sent in this one and practically forgot about it. On the day of the award announcement, I was just giving an interview to a Matichon newspaper journalist at the Thailand Script Project workshop that I had planned to take a 4- or 5-year hiatus — I just wanted to have a normal life, own a home, etc — when Pawas informed me that I was awarded the fund. And so I had to do it.
Sixty-Nine and Invisible Waves are totally different styles of film noirs. What style do you plan for this one?
It will be more similar to Sixty-Nine – with plots and plots. The original story has a rich plot and much of it needs to be streamlined to fit a 1.5-hour timeframe. It will have sharp conversations, intense acting and it will not be realistic. With this one I have already determined what the ending will be and so it will be a different kind of fun working under this restriction, unlike what I did for Invisible Waves, Last Life in the Universe, or Nymph, where I had no restriction and then simply followed the flow of the films.
You mean you will improvise?
No, there is no improvisation in my films. It depends on which way the wind blows on that day. Well, those movie plots are also very minimal and then give me the freedom to [go to any directions of filmmaking and then] ‘get lost.’ Sometimes I find my way back. But sometimes I get lost forever. The result is what you see in each of the films.
But I can’t get lost on this one. If the destination is in Chiang Mai, I have to go there. If I need to go by motorcycle, I have to go by motorcycle. I only select which motorcycle and which direction to go, but I won’t be able to change to a tricycle. This is a different kind of fun. It’s very focused.
Among your last 6-7 films, do you prefer the ones in which you have to focus or the ones you can freely follow the wind?
I prefer the ones with a focused storyline. I know how to shoot and what to edit. . The 3-4 arthouse films with extensive flows were a result of my desire to experiment. But I am particularly good at those with a focused storyline. …I consider myself to be a fun storyteller. The problem is sometimes I did not feel like to do it, but prefer to do something else.
Experimental? Pen-Ek’s experimental film?
Yes. If the audience is lucky, the experimental film turns out good and fun. Ploy is fun. Last Life in the Universe is fun. Nymph is moderately fun. I think Invisible Waves may be a bit over the top, too experimental.
Many years ago before you start experimenting, I have personally told you that my favorite film of yours was Sixty-Nine and you agreed. How about now?
(Long pause) I like Ploy (almost as a whisper).
I’m not sure. It is a film which I can proudly tell others that it is my film. Ploy nicely blends narration and the open end style. It has the right tone, the right cinematography, the right ambiguity of the characters. When I finished filming and saw the film, I thought, "Ok. If I had walked into the wrong direction in the last decade, this one was not that bad."
You often have a selection of few actors you work with in consecutive films such as Asano Tadanobu and more recently Peter Noppachai. Why?
I was very impressed with Peter in Nymph. He had dedications. He was thoughtful. He shared many of the same interests—books, music. He was a very mature actor.
He is a rare breed of actors in Thailand. When he shares a scene with someone, he always places himself in a support position. Many actors always overpower the others. So, in a way, Peter is a very generous actor. He listens to people. If you notice, whenever he shares a scene with someone, the other person will shine. He is very special.
As for Cris Horwang, I have never seen her film (BTS Love Story) but I know her personally. Her fun personality fits the film. The fact that Cris is immensely popular also helps. Not only Cris, Joey Boy and Jok Danai also fit their characters.
Your producer and I, just mentioned about that - the film should be a commercial success, given such a lot of popular cast (whose films swept multi-million-baht in local box-office) like Cris (BTS Love Story), Joey Boy (The Holy Man 2), and Peter (Naresuan).
But not including the director. Let’s see if the star-studded cast can break my curse (laugh).
In summary, this film will be more comprehensible than the last 2-3 films?
Yes. This one focuses on the element of fun.