Airbnb offers ‘Phantom of the Opera’-themed stay at Palais Garnier in Paris
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 13, 2023
Airbnb is offering a night for two in the Palais Garnier opera house in Paris this summer, transforming a box in the theatre into a plush bedroom with sweeping views of the famous auditorium.
The “Phantom of the Opera“-themed stay – a nod to the novel by Gaston Leroux and Andrew Lloyd Webber‘s musical – comes as tourism bounces back in Europe after several years of pandemic disruptions, with visitors from the United States arriving in France in droves since last summer.
European capitals are also gearing up for the return of Chinese tourists, following the lifting of travel restrictions.
Before the pandemic, Airbnb had created other unusual overnight stays in the French capital, one of its key markets. These included a shark tank in the city’s aquarium, the skull-lined catacombs, the Moulin Rouge cabaret and the glass pyramid in the Louvre.
The idea is to encourage people “to travel and dream at the same time — and raise a lot of emotions around travel,” Emmanuel Marill, Airbnb director of Europe, the Middle East and Africa told Reuters.
The Palais Garnier stay includes a music recital, dinner in an ornate rehearsal room backstage and a behind-the-scenes tour of the elaborate 19th-century building, including its underground pool, the inspiration for the phantom’s lair in the book and musical.
The Palais Garnier stay will be listed on March 1 for 37 euros, also the number on the box, one of the theatre’s most prestigious, which will be decked out with antique furniture, especially for the night.
It will be offered on a first-come-first-serve basis to an applicant registered on the company’s online rental platform.
“It’s a bit of a fantasy. I think it will be a bit unreal,” said Veronique Dubrulle Leroux, the great-granddaughter of “Phantom of the Opera” author Leroux, who will host the visitors.
As part of the project, Airbnb will also fund the renovation of the theatre’s 19th Century boxes and help the Opera de Paris to update its online streaming platform.
Roses may fade as more intimate and public gifts proliferate on Valentine’s Day
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 13, 2023
Roses are facing competition on Valentine’s Day as social media platforms and applications create personalised and often more intimate ways to say “I love you” – publicly.
Online greetings are often dismissed as trite, but social media companies and apps are increasingly offering their users ways to make declarations of love more intimate and personal, and adding what may be the most motivating factor – an audience.
Line lets users create their own stickers and TikTok, of course, allows its users to create video clips to profess their adoration for another person directly and publicly.
For those seeking more privacy, video calls are surging on Valentine’s Day, social media monitoring services say.
Academics have taken note of the trend.
Couples who share their passion on Facebook have stronger relationships than those who do not, according to a study by Virginia state-based Christopher Newport University.
This study also found that when couples switched their Facebook status from “single” to “in a relationship” it brought them closer together.
Perhaps the discomfort of saying “I love you” in person is one factor driving the surge in online confessions of love, social media analysts say.
They add, however, that the ability to personalise such statements with photos, video clips, and other attractive elements contributes to the rise of digital Valentine’s Day gifts.
Korea Foundation looks for print artists to join Chiang Mai residency program
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 05, 2023
Korea Foundation and the Asean Foundation are inviting five contemporary Korean artists to take part in the inaugural “Konnect Asean – Chiang Mai Print Residency for Korean artists,” which will take place in northern Thailand’s Chiang Mai.
The monthlong program that will start in July is to provide access to print studios, public programs and other promotional activities for print artists while they work in the city.
The residency program will promote collaboration and networking among Korean artists and 10 artists from Southeast Asian countries. The artists will be expected to create works in an open studio format. The studios include CAP Studio – Chiangmai Art on Paper, Cha-Mai Home Studio, Detales Studio, Halo Printmaking Studio, Jojo Kobe Art Gallery, Mezz Press and Prawin Print Studio.
Participating artists’ work will be exhibited in Bangkok and Chiang Mai in Thailand; Jakarta in Indonesia and Busan.
Artwork production costs, airfare and travel expenses will be provided by the organizers.
Artists should have a university degree in visual arts and be under the age of 40. Applications for the program should be submitted online at the KF Asean Culture House website by Feb. 28.
Meat & Livestock Australia launches “Aussie Pies – It’s Just Better” campaign with five exclusive pies created by leading pastry chefs in Thailand
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 02, 2023
Bangkok – January 30, 2023: “The Aussie Pies – It’s Just Better” campaign, celebrates Australian culture and one of Australia’s favourite foods for one month in Thailand.
Australian culture and cuisine is influenced by many people around the world and this campaign is no different It will feature a mixture of beloved Australian meat pies and some new Thai inspired versions to re-imagine our Australian classic. Using premium Australian beef and crafted by leading pastry chefs in Thailand, the special pie campaign runs from January 26th to February 26th, 2023. The pies made by five collaborating chefs are created with the Australian values of simplicity and bold flavours in mind and made with high-quality ingredients. This month-long campaign is a unique opportunity for pie lovers to try these unique pies and win gifts.
The five exclusive, specially created Aussie Pies using premium Australian beef and lamb are:
Shabu Aussie Beef & Melt Cheese Pie by Chef Natty-Napavadee Payackso of CHA’Sant by Chef Natty
Chef Natty is a Thai culinary sensation with over 100,000 followers on social media. At her restaurant in the Ekkamai area of Bangkok, she offers croissant and pie lovers a variety of mouth-watering options, including the highly sought-after truffle cheese, foie gras truffle and lobster truffle. Her flaky Shabu Aussie Beef & Melt Cheese Pie offers a powerful savoury punch edged by a delicious hint of sweetness with strong umami notes from the soy sauce and dashi. The rice vinegar and mirin in the shabu sauce give the filling its somewhat tangy and sweet notes. The tender cooked beef and the melty cheese are encased in deliciously flaky pastry.
Green Curry Aussie Beef Pie by Chef Chao-Tawjan Catherine Punyasingh of Bite Me Softly
Chef Chao-Tawjan Catherine Punyasingh, also known as Tawjan Catherine Punyasingh, bakes Aussie Beef Pies at her business, Bite Me Softly, located in Kai Chae alley in Bangkok. She has a reputation as the queen of baking, gaining popularity through her homemade cake recipe Facebook fan page. With seven years of experience as a supplier for several cafes and restaurants, Chef Chao now offers her unique and creative culinary style at Bite Me Softly, incorporating food culture from around the world into her menu. Her Green Curry Aussie Beef Pie is a unique combination of good quality tender Aussie beef, perfectly flaky pastry and the bold, complex and fragrant spices of the Thai green curry paste. Every bite has a hint of lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, and green chilli peppers.
Aussie Mince Beef and Guinness Aussie Beef & Mushroom by Chef Michael James Handley and Laongdao Prathumchat of Tinnies Gourmet Pie Café
At Tinnies Gourmet Pies Café in Jomtien, Pattaya, Chef Michael James Handley and Laongdao Prathumchat offer authentic Aussie flavours with their Aussie Mince Beef Pie. The husband and wife team has over 14 years of experience in the pastry and pie-making industry, including operating a small pie shop in Launceston, Tasmania, for seven years and running Tinnies Gourmet Pies Cafe for the past seven years in Pattaya. The couple’s expertise is reflected in the reputation Tinnies Pies has gained for being the best pies in Pattaya, as shown by positive feedback from foreign YouTube channels and satisfied customers. Hearty and satisfying, this traditional Aussie Mince Beef and Guinness Aussie Beef & Mushroom has a rich and savoury flavour, with the beef encased in a flaky, buttery pastry crust cooked to perfection, creating a balance between the savoury filling and the pastry.
Luxury Steak Pie by Bangkok Bob’s
Bangkok Bob’s, located on Soi Sukhumvit 71 in Bangkok, offers a unique dining and shopping experience. As a restaurant and importer of high-quality meats and ingredients, they offer a selection of Western dishes prepared by the chef using your chosen ingredients. From Beef Stroganoff to Meat Croquettes to Cottage Pies made with Australian beef and mashed potatoes, there are various options for meat lovers. Their famous luxury steak pie is known for its unique balance of flavours. It is a rich, delicious, and well-seasoned treat that is hearty and satisfying.
Massaman Aussie Beef Pie and Khao Soi Aussie Lamb Pie by Chef Gun-Patinya Srithong from CRAFT at Kimpton Maa-Lai Bangkok
Chef Gun-Patinya Srithong is an experienced culinary professional specialising in fusion cuisine. He has honed his skills working in top kitchens throughout Thailand, including the Michelin-star L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon, Mohegan Sun, and Wine Connection. Currently, Chef Gun-Patinya can be found experimenting with unique ingredients and blending different cuisines at CRAFT, a perfect spot to enjoy single-origin coffee, craft cocktails and delicious bites. The café’s daytime cosy vibe transforms into a lively bar in the evening, with easy eats and great music. The classic Thai dish of stewed beef in Massaman spices inspires Chef Gun’s Massaman Aussie Beef Pie. The slow-cooked beef flavoured with curry paste, fish sauce, peanuts, coconut, tamarind and more makes for a rich, intensely punchy filling complimented by flaky, buttery pastry. Overall it is a rich, well-balanced pie. Chef Gun’s Khao Soi Aussie Lamb Pie, is a revelation. The curried broth that flavours the lamb filling is wonderfully fragrant. The pie has a delicious spiciness that beautifully translates the comforting flavours of one of Thailand’s most popular dishes into a very Aussie Pie.
Get an exclusive taste of Australia flavoured by the culinary expertise of these five remarkable chefs during the limited-time offer. As a bonus, the first ten customers who spend over THB 1,000 on a signature Aussie Pie will receive a THB 500 gift of Aussie Beef Aprons and Bags.
To learn more about “The Aussie Pies-It’s Just Better” campaign and to find out more about the chefs and restaurants that are participating, visit https://www.thailand.aussiebeefandlamb.com or updates on events and news. Don’t miss out on this unique opportunity to savour the authentic taste of Australia! Visit the participating restaurants from January 26th to February 26th, 2023, for your chance to taste these exclusive and delicious pies.
Cambodian artist casts shadows with paper as medium
FRIDAY, JANUARY 27, 2023
Sitting in front of a black-and-white image printed on thick fabric with LED lights directly on the frame, Our Darith is cutting paper into small pieces and inserting them into the place with the utmost care and adjusting them to make them cast symmetrical shadows.
From the beginning of the first paper insertion until finishing the work as a whole completely on the thick paperboard the whole thing seemed disordered until Darith turned on the lights on the frame and the Angkor Wat shadow painting appeared as if by magic.
This is a kind of light and shadow painting created by Darith and based on the art of shadow casting on a piece of wood on the wall by a Japanese artist.
Darith, who holds a Bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, recalled: “I once saw a Japanese artist’s work where he arranged pieces of wood on a wall and illuminated them with light to create a human image. It really shocked me and I started to think that I would have to create this kind of art form myself. It was a childhood dream.”
While studying at university, Darith, 28, worked in film and pursued a career as an art director, focusing on the creation of materials and art for films after graduation.
At one time, he saw a picture that was widely shared on Facebook, a photo of shadows and light shining through the window frame of Angkor Wat, reminiscent of images of created Japanese art.
“I got the idea of arranging the pieces of wood on the wall and the twinkling lights of these two windows frames add together, I thought that using only things made of light and shadow I could create something new of my own. I also started researching and understanding art objects,” he said.
Darith’s idea did not materialize until the Covid-19 pandemic, which led to the lockdown and closure of the country. The young man was suspended from the film industry but continued to innovate by discovering new things and starting to follow their dreams from childhood.
He decided to create art objects from light and shadow in a frame that could be displayed. Taking a sample by preparing a piece of wood or using their hands in front of the light to show various pictures on the wall, Darith saw that paper can easily change the shape of a shadow made by shining light behind it.
“When I first made the picture, it was very difficult because I did not know where to start, just knew that it started from paper. When cutting the papers it started out as just a simple triangle and I was not very happy,” he said.
The next image he is working on is a portrait of His Majesty King Norodom Sihanouk, starting with the printing of the portrait and turning it into a black and white image, then making a shadow version according to this picture.
He described the difficulty between drawing on paper and cutting out silhouettes, saying that when using a flexible pencil or brush, the painter could erase it at the wrong point, but in the case of shadows and light painting things were more difficult.
“When I created my first work, I was so excited that I bragged about it. They were interested and ordered a series of photos. I started receiving orders from customers from then on and so far I have made more than 30 paintings,” he told The Post.
Darith said that the image of Angkor is very complicated because each gallery of the temple is different and has small details that require a lot of patience.
He said that from the beginning to the completion of Angkor Wat it took him more than two months. For his annual paintings that can be sold to customers like the Buddha and Angkor Wat, the prices are from $299-$399 per painting.
For custom order pictures, most of which are photo replicas, the standard size is 60 x 90cm and sometimes slightly smaller and are priced at $499 and up, and possibly higher than this in the future.
In the past, due to the limited number of works made, Darith said that he has not yet shown his art in any art exhibition, but he plans to participate in other programmes.
“Obviously, for the upcoming Angkor Sangkran event [in April] I will show my work in the exceptional artist’s village, where I will add another work,” he said.
Darith, who said that producing light and shadow paintings takes time and talent, said he could also produce murals, but he focused on the circumstances that should be on the frame or on the wall.
As for electrical engineering skills, he said that from the time he studied until he completed three months of internship, he decided not to start a career in this field.
He explained: “When I served my internship, I realized that this skill was not suited for me because I went to work in the morning, came back home tired and went to bed and got up to work again the next morning. This is not what my life needs.”
Although he did not pursue a career as an electrical engineer, he has applied this knowledge to his artistic work experiences in the field of filmmaking by understanding the creative ideas needed to integrate the art form with technical aspects.
The former electrical engineer said he sees the value of the artwork based on knowledge and other skills.
“What I see, overall, is good artists always do things that make it even better, it is beyond work, with knowledge and other skills. We must do something to attract attention and expand our market,” he said.
During the Bangkok Film Festival, held last weekend at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre, film buffs were given a chance to learn about the art of post-production in the seminar “Decode the Post Production: Art and Heart of Film”.
In the world of film and television soaps, the most overlooked yet most important part is the post-production process. It may take just 30 days to shoot a film, but it can take twice the time to edit the picture and sounds.
During the Bangkok Film Festival, held last weekend at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre, film buffs were given a chance to learn about the art of post-production in the seminar “Decode the Post Production: Art and Heart of Film”. Sharing their experiences were film directorand editorLee Chatametikool, sound designer Nopawat Likitwong, film director Supharat Boonmayam and film and TV script writer Arm Issara.
Bangkok Film Festival, Bangkok, Thailand
“I think the most difficult thing people don’t understand about post production is because post production is invisible, it’s something that you’re not aware of that happens so with good editing, you shouldn’t be aware that there’s good editing and sound and all that stuff. So there’s all this work that goes in and people don’t actually know it’s there, so that’s the hardest thing, but it’s the fun part.”
Lee Chatametikool, Film director and editor, Bangkok Film Festival
During the Covid-19 pandemic, when we could not leave our homes due to lockdowns, streaming platforms began taking over as the prime source of entertainment. Has this affected or changed the quality of post-production work?
“Yes and no, so I think we used to have movies for the cinema and now there are streaming on smaller screens. The gaps in terms of technical, has kind of narrowed between the 2. So actually now your cell phone and TV screens have quality that’s almost the same as the cinema, it’s just different size and the sound quality you get at home is high as well. So there’s the same opportunity to tell good stories, whether it’s on a big screen or at home. And for streaming platforms they are always streaming at a high quality, the quality that’s doing surround sound like in the cinema or high definition or high dynamic ranges. So in the end, the technical side of both is pretty much the same now.”
Lee Chatametikool, Film director and editor, Bangkok Film Festival, Thailand
Sound designer Nopawat Likitwong has pointed out that streaming platforms give a longer timeline for post-production crew to complete their work and also offer more opportunities for those interested in working in the film industry.
“For my job, I think that I have more advantages for having more channels because the big screen is still there but I have more channels to service. It is not that much different to me and I think it’s a great opportunity for people who want to jump into this business as well.”
Viewers may not notice the magic and the hard work that goes into post-production, but both Lee and Nopawat say that watching viewers get completely immersed in a film is what truly makes their job a success.
Nopawat Likitwong, Sound designer, Bangkok Film Festival, Thailand
The Korean Cultural Centre on Sukhumvit Road is hosting “Sawasdee Pee Mai Kaoli” on Tuesday to give Thais a taste of the Korean Lunar New Year, which is very different to the Chinese version.
The event opened with university students majoring in the Korean language paying respect to South Korean Ambassador Moon Seung-hyun and members of the Thai Korean War Veterans Association.
This ceremony called “Sebae” is much like Thailand’s “rot dam nam hua” ceremony, which is marked during Songkran.
The Tuesday event also includes other traditions like skits, making rice cakes and wearing traditional costumes. Traditionally, the oval rice cakes are beaten using a mallet called the tteokme before they are used to create tteokguk soup. The oval-shaped cakes are white symbolising a bright, prosperous new year.
“The Korean New Year has a warm family culture, as the family gets together by paying respect to the elders, eating symbolic dishes and enjoying traditional plays,” Cho Jae Il, director of the Korean Cultural Centre, said.
“I hope many Thais come and enjoy our ‘Seollal’ experience, which is different from the Chinese Lunar New Year.”
Unlike the Chinese New Year, which is symbolised by the colour red, the Korean version uses white to signify fresh new beginnings.
The event, which saw some 1,000 visitors, also included traditional musical performances. Entrance was free.
Saturday is the last day to catch “Luna: The Immersive Musical Experience”
Last year’s number of performances that call themselves “immersive” is so high that many theatregoers lost count of it. Last month, a few members of the Thailand centre of International Association of Theatre Critics (IATC) noted on a Bangkok Offstage podcast that while this phenomenon was unprecedented it could be owing to the fact that the audience wanted a new experience, after having watched recorded or streamed performances on their personal screens for more than two years.
The most highly anticipated, or hyped, of them all is “Luna: The Immersive Musical Experience” by Castscape and Emquartier, starting from its audition attracting a large group of professional performers to its 90-performance run that spans a few months. It’s indeed a similar hype to what a large-scale commercial musical theatre production had, pre-pandemic. The Culture section of “Thairath Plus” also named it as “Art and Performance” of the year.
Having experienced British collective Punchdrunk and National Theatre’s “The Drowned Man: A Hollywood Fable” 10 years ago in which a postal warehouse near Paddington station was completely and realistically transformed into a Hollywood movie studio of a bygone era, I couldn’t help having high expectation attending a work that’s labelled “immersive”.
The first reality check was when I arrived at “Luna’s” one-rai (1,600 square-meter) venue called Q Stadium and realized that it’s not a sport venue as the name suggests, but formerly a sport shoes department where I bought a pair of running shoes. At the registration table where “Luna’s” source of inspiration American writer Kelly Barnhill’s children’s novel “The Girl Who Drank the Moon” was for sale, I was given a media pass allowing me to take photos and video clips shorter than 15 seconds of the performance. The audience could choose between the village and forest paths—the maximum for each group was 60 people—as stories and actions differed: I did the latter as I was hoping to be taken to a more fantastical world.
The second reality check was about 15 metres into the “forest” as the audience saw a sound control board with blinking lights and shortly afterwards we’re seated around a performance area in front of what looked like a tree where the first scene unfolded. Later on, some with special tickets were invited to move to another area to watch another brief scene. Then, we’re asked to move to another larger space with more seats and on the way there were other scenes to watch. In the final and grandest scene, all characters and audience members were altogether. With the limited space of the venue, it’s evident that the production needed to handle the traffic of 120 audience members in addition to dozens of cast members. While it’s generally effective it’s far different from the show’s promises that the audience would walk around the space to watch the scenes and that there would be rest areas and recommendation for walking shoes; most of the time we’re seated and well rested. Also, frequently we heard the noise and voices or saw the light from a nearby scene we’re not supposed to.
The production design of “Luna” looked like that of children’s theatre production. In conventional playhouse, the lighting and the distance between the stage and audience could make it look magical. Here, it looked like a waste of wood and Styrofoam and was unable to create an imaginary world for the audience. By contrast, the performance by professional actors, singers and dancers was mesmerizing as they had strong concentration and could convey the play’s important messages to all members of the audience. We, with our masks on, cherished this special opportunity to watch the details of their facial expression, gestures and movements and listen to their keenly articulated dialogues and beautifully rendered songs, without the microphone, accompanied by prerecorded music which occasionally was too loud.
After almost three hours, the audience was given a brochure at the exit. To our surprise, it doesn’t contain the information on the “Luna” cast and crew but that on Chaiyapruk Foundation whose founder’s dedication to the care of Thai orphans inspired this production and to which part of the proceeds of “Luna” will be donated. I was wondering whether I had just watched a charity concert. In fact, there’s a non-immersive live orchestra version of “Luna” over the holidays last month, highlighting the fact that the songs were keenly written and composed although the whole immersive experience had much room for improvement.
As life slowly gets back to “new” normal while we try our best to live with new variants of the coronavirus disease, live performances return. While concertgoers are not required to wear masks, theatregoers do here. Meanwhile, news of the new Scenario musical “Phitsawat”, stage adaptation of late National Artist Thamayanti’s novel, scheduled for this June at Muangthai Rachadalai Theatre has recently caused excitement.
Will there be more performances that label themselves “immersive” here? Yes. Will its hype be as strong as that in 2022? I don’t think so.
The last five performances of “Luna: The Immersive Musical Experience” are from Wednesday (January 25) to Saturday (January 28), 7pm with a 2pm matinee on Saturday. Tickets are Bt 2,390 (plus VAT and ticketing fee), available at www.ticketmelon.com. For more details, https://www.facebook.com/castscape or email email@example.com
Book Review: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by VE Schwab
SATURDAY, JANUARY 21, 2023
Life in a world where you are surrounded by people should never be lonely. But for Adeline “Addie” LaRue, loneliness is redefined – she has to spend centuries alone, forgotten, isolated, all because of a bargain she makes with Luc “The Darkness” in exchange for freedom.
The deal is she can be free and immortal, except nobody will remember her, ever. The author, VE Schwab, takes readers on a whimsical journey over 300 years, from the time LaRue is born in the 18th century in a small French village to 2014 when she meets the love of her life in a small New York bookshop.
Published in 2020, “The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue” was on the New York Times bestseller list and is now being considered for film adaptation. It was nominated for the 2020 Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel, but lost to “Middlegame” by fellow American author Seanan McGuire.
Schwab, however, has more than 20 books under her belt, including bestsellers “Vicious” and “A Darker Shade of Magic”.
In her latest offering, Schwab does not just weave a story through significant times in history, but also sheds light on depression and LaRue’s inability to forge lasting connections.
“Being forgotten, she thinks, is a bit like going mad. You begin to wonder what is real, if you are real. After all, how can a thing be real if it cannot be remembered?” the author says. Though depression and other mental health issues are now more commonly talked about, they are still unscalable mountains for the sufferers.
This challenge is captured by Schwab’s depiction of the deal LaRue has made with Luc – she cannot speak or write her name, leave no footprints behind or even be photographed.
People can interact with her, but she is immediately forgotten as soon as she is out of sight.
Though immortal, LaRue still feels all the physical and mental anguish suffered by humans – before she wakes up again. If she wants to end this eternal torture, she will have to give her soul over to Luc.
“I am stronger than your God and older than your devil. I am the darkness between stars, and the roots beneath the earth. I am promise, and potential, and when it comes to playing games, I divine the rules, I set the pieces, and I choose when to play,” he says.
LaRue’s adventures take readers across time, countries and continents, from masquerade balls in Venice to becoming a German prisoner of war during World War II.
Yet, though LaRue was condemned to a life of invisibility, the reader learns how far a young woman will go to make a mark until one day, in a little bookshop in New York, she meets the love of her life, Henry Strauss, who says “I remember you”.
The tale sheds light on the fact that support, bonds and social interaction are necessary for survival. Like Matthew Lieberman says in his book, “Social: Why Our Brains are Wired to Connect”, humanity’s need to associate socially with others is as fundamental as the need for food, water and a roof over our heads.
Schwab captures this hunger for connection with a dreamlike character-driven narrative, grabbing the reader with intrigue, surprises, twists, romance and dark emotions.
The book takes readers on an enchanting voyage as LaRue grows from a naïve village girl to a sophisticated young woman who knows how to play Luc’s games.
The book ends on a cliffhanger with the possibility of a sequel and a nagging question: Would you rather be forgotten but free, or remembered but shackled?
Govt told to focus on film to magnify Thailand’s global appeal
FRIDAY, JANUARY 20, 2023
To turn Bangkok into a major location for making domestic and international films, the city needs clear and simple regulations for filmmakers to follow as well as skilled workers, several experts told a seminar on Friday.
Films have a uniquely powerful way to transmit content and messages with mass appeal globally, they agreed.
Consequently, films are an excellent medium for Bangkok to project Thailand’s cultural power at home and abroad, they told the seminar on how to transform the capital into “The City of Film”.
The seminar – organised by Nation Group for the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) – drew advice from Senator Weerasak Kowsurat, United Cinema Co Ltd managing director Naruemon Lormthong, Royal Theatre executive Sala Chalermkrung, director and screenwriter Wisit Sasanatieng, and National Federation of Thai Film Associations secretary Pornchai Wongsriudomporn.
Senator Weerasak, also a former tourism and sports minister, compared the film industry to a locomotive, saying it can seamlessly transport all types of soft power to Thai and international audiences.
The film industry also has the potential to generate additional revenue from film production companies interested in using Bangkok as a location, while at the same time providing the capital with the opportunity to promote itself globally.
If the BMA wants to attract film producers, it needs clear and concise regulations for them to apply for permission to film locations in Bangkok – like buildings, public spaces, roads, or bridges – as well as competitive and transparent costs.
The BMA should reduce red tape by opening a one-stop service agency for filmmakers to get permission to film particular locations, Weerasak said.
All parties involved should also develop a clear plan for how to use the fees raised from filming in specific locations to develop the communities in their areas, the senator added.
Weerasak had a bit more advice for the BMA.
He said incentives like tax cuts or suspensions work better than providing grants to attract the private sector to support the Thai film industry. These incentives can be used to, for example, provide more time and space for Thai films to be shown in cinemas or assist in their promotion.
Film director Wisit said Thailand’s film industry has no shortage of creative talent. The problem lies in systems that make it difficult for the younger generation to enter the industry, he said.
The government should take a fresh look at films so that it can develop a clearer and more consistent strategy to support the industry.
“The Thai government should change its mindset and start seeing films as a powerful industry worthy of supportive programmes and subsidies on par with other industries,” the director said. “More importantly, we should have our own real film university to train skilled workers in order to upgrade the film industry from pre- to post-production,” he added.
Wisit had more advice for the government.
Give filmmakers more freedom of expression, he said. They can tell uncomfortable truths about Thailand while still making the world love the country, he added.
Pornchai agreed with Wisit that one of the most critical hurdles to attracting film production companies was talent.
Low wages, long hours and exhausting work make it difficult for people who work in the film industry to survive.
Every element of filmmaking necessitates expertise, Pornchai said.
If Bangkok wants to be a city of film, it requires talented workers in addition to the beautiful scenery, friendly people, advanced technology, and infrastructure it already has, he explained.
Naruemon called for the government to help Thai film makers reduce costs, particularly advertising expenses.
“Thai cinema requires a spark to become known. This means that Thai films require some supportive action to attract an audience,” she said.
She also said the cost of watching a movie in a theatre includes travel costs. The cost of a movie ticket is already too expensive for most Thais, she said.
The seminar is part of the Bangkok Film Festival 2023, which runs from today until Sunday at the Bangkok Art and Cultural Center. It is hosted by the BMA.
The goal is to promote Bangkok as a filmmaking city.
Last year, the government launched its so-called “5 Fs soft power” campaign. The campaign promotes five major Thai cultural products – food, film, fashion, fighting, and festivals – internationally.
In response to this initiative, government ministries, agencies, and the BMA are taking steps – some big, some small – to promote Thailand’s power around the globe.