Daily Archives: February 7, 2005

2046….Behind The Scenes

Well, this didn’t exactly mean to be my next story til I managed to pick up a copy (of a very scarce Bkk Post on Sunday). Having been surprised that the epic Hong Kong movie 2046 had been finally released in Bangkok’s cinemas, I couldn’t resist writing about it.

A long long time ago, I had the unenviable task of having, within very short notice to hunt down a Few Farang (including myself) to play as extras for a few days. So, there I was running around Banglumphu trying to find Farangs who were short of cash as you must have had to been pretty desperate to accept their measily fee. I was only doing it cause I was getting commission as I had heard that the Chinese productions were real stingy, which I found out later was an understatement.

“a right mix up”

Well, on the very first morning I had the casting agent blowing his top as one of the Farang hadn’t shown up. So there I was, revving it back to Banglumphu only to find this ghostlike Farang open the door to explain that he had a severe hangover and didnt have the energy to perform any acting skils, thanks a bunch mate. Back on the set, being not exactly in the best of moods, we had to dress up in these silly looking sailor outfits, which were to be our attire throughout. We had to wait for our call in this dirty carpark (RCA)opposite the set.

Next, I see this trampy looking Farang in fisherman pants,looking as if he had just fallen off the Khao Sarn – Koh Samui bus come up taking fotos of us with a funny looking camera, I mean he wasn’t even looking directly in the lens, so i thought him mad ( I had never seen a digi camera before. How rude i thought and so i asked the guy “Excuse me do you mind?” and to this he replied “Yes, I do. I am the cameraman/asst. director. Pretty embarrasing! Anyway, how the heck was I to know that there would be a Farang working on a Hong Kong movie?! I was to learn after that it was only Christopher Doyle, Hong Kong’s leading Farang moviemaker.

I asked one of the Chinese crew “Excuse me, couldn’t we actually sit inside the set(pub) only for him to inform me “This movie is top secret!” indirectly meaning “You loser extras can hang around in the carpark’. I was to find out later that the movie WAS top secret and when i did ask the Asst. director “Excuse me, what’s the movie about?” he responded with the likes of “The aftermath of a nuclear war”. What a bunch of lies!

I remember the very first scene when the director Wor Kar Wai asked the Japanese actor to the likes of “Ok you are losing at cards, will you continue playing or leave?”, What was this, I mean the movie didn’t have a script, what a freak director! Then who am I to judge, when Wor Kar Wai’s Chunking Express was ranked the eighth best ever movie since 1979 by a bunch of British moviemakers.

“Mr Tacky was told off by his manager for getting rather too friendly to the one in the middle. And it isn’t me!”

Then there was a Farang that I took along that did absolutely nothing within the four days besides sit around smoking, drinking beer, flirting with the model extras and fooling around with a couple of ladyboys at the back of the costume bus. Every time the crew shouted over for a couple of Farang he would just pretend that he didnt hear and so it was only me and this enthusiastic American who were there to strut our stuff. In one of my scenes I was shot head and dragged outside drenched in fake blood. You could have scene the look on a bunch of office girls that hadn’t realised that a movie was being filmed when they saw me walk by!

As for one of the main actors, a Japanese guy called Tacky Kawawackie, or something like that, I have absolutely nothing good to say about him whatsoever apart from that he plays the guitar pretty well. Having worked on a few Hollywood movies here, I had got used to the tradition that all the crew are treated pretty much equally. However on this set Mr Tacky was treated well above everyone else’s head. He was pampered all day like a big baby by his assistant fanning and wiping away his sweat as if he had no hands of his own. Next i noticed at lunchtime, him sitting in his mini bus scoffing away at a massive pizza hut and chicken wings. As for us, i thought the food so bad that I went to eat in the supermarket, again getting lots of stares cause of my funny sailor’s costume.

Since a few poshy schoolgirls had heard that Mr Tacky was playing, a smallish crowd would wait patiently outside the set to get a glimpse of their idol before going back. As for Mr Tacky, he was having none of that. As soon as he had finished work he would rush into his bus with his hand over his face with not even a simple wave to his fans. As you could have imagined, Mr Tacky isn’t as popular as he once was. I always remember some of Jean Claude Van Darned antics, but he still wasnt as ‘full of himself’ as Mr Tacky. He didnt seem to realise that most Thais didnt have a clue to who he was. He did look rather upset though, being totally ignored by the Thais, one time, while on the set waiting, the Thai extras got real excited about the arrival of another star P’Bird Thongchai Mc Intrye.

“The police cum set security cum extras cum handsome posers”

When chatting away to Mr Tacky’s assistant in Thai to Mr Tacky’s obvious distain, one of the extras whispered in my ear “Pls ask for his autograph for me?”, so I did. Only for Mr Tacky to reply “No, I don’t hand out my autograph to just anyone”. After that i continued chatting away to his assistant just to get up his nose. I mean, never in the 11 years that I have spent working on and off in the movie/tv business have I ever known any other star to refuse to sign an autograph!

Finally you may have read that the movie took five years to make. You are probably wondering why. Well, I can tell you that from the very beginning the production had serious financial problems. I didn’t go, but I heard from my agent the story of the crew’s fiasco on the final day of filming in Kanchanburi. Just as the crew were leaving for Bangkok to fly back to Hong Kong the extras etc.. were making a brawl cause the Chinese hadn’t paid their salaries as the production team had run out of money! So the police arrived and the whole Chinese crew were confined to the hotel premises until someone had to be flown in from Hong Kong with the cash! Im sure that Mr Tacky wasn’t too pleased! Serves them right, I say.

Mr Tacky’s Fan Clubs have been complaining that i didn’t use his real name! So here it is, just for yous:
Takuya Kimura or Kimura Takuya.

Symbols of Thailand

What would you say the symbol of your country is? One of my students came up to me the other day and asked what is the symbol of England. I couldn’t really think of any one symbol. Certainly not an official one. My student suggested Big Ben which is partly true but that is really a national icon. Something that represents the country. In the Amerian movies, if they want to show their audience that the movie is now set in England they will show Big Ben or the Tower of London.

What about Thailand? What would you say are the symbols of this country? This is a question I ask my students every year. I usually get the ball rolling by suggesting “tuk tuk” and “elephant”. We then brainstorm more ideas and write them on the blackboard. We end up with 45 symbols and the students then have to pick one each to write about. Here are some of the symbols they came up with:

1. Thai flag
2. Elephant
3. Thai smile
4. Thai manners
5. Thai music
6. Thai language
7. "Wai"
8. Thai games
9. Food
10. Loy Krathong
11. Songkran
12. OTOP
13. Thai temples
14. Thai houses
15. Thai fruit
16. Thai sweets
17. Jasmine garland
18. Thai clothes
19. Thai ghost
20. Thai musical instruments
21. Muay Thai
22. Takraw
23. Thai art
24. Thai Stories
25. Thai movies
26. Thai Dancing
27. Thai famers
28. Thai fisherman
29. Thai supermodel
30. Thai culture
31. Tuk tuk
32. Thai herbs
33. Buffalo
34. Horoscope
35. King and queen
36. Thai chess
37. Thai girl
38. Thai boy
39 Thai precious stones
40. Thai flowers
41. Thai dolls
42. Thai money
43. Thai kites
44. Thai soldiers
45. Thai market

I have five books now showing the Symbols of Thailand from a student’s point of view. A selection of these can be found on our school’s web site. We also have many more in English and Thai at the learningthai.com web site.

But what about the official symbols of Thailand? Well, recently, the Thai government agreed on three national symbols to represent the Kingdom: the elephant as the national animal, the golden shower flower (known in Thai as Ratchaphruek) as the national flower, and the pavilion as the national architectural symbol. Only one of those was on my students’ list.