Hey there, Chris here. It’s been weeks since my last post and there’s been a lot going on at Mplus+ lately, with the film project in full swing. A while back, we met with a group of students from the local university who are interning with Mplus+ during their summer vacation. None of them were directly involved with the issues faced by the GLBT minority, so it was interesting to see them discuss and interpret these issues as we sat down to the first brainstorming session in order to put together a story. One problem they all picked up on was that of acceptance, and the unique form this issue takes within Thai society. One girl shared with the group the story of her young cousin, an effeminate boy who had had a hard time fitting in with his friends, and gaining acceptance from his family. She outlines a specific incident where on putting a flower behind his ear while playing, the boy was beaten. The entire group agreed that the imagery in this story was really strong, and that it held an extremely powerful message and negative example of behavior towards GLBT youth. They decided then that their story would be a reenactment of this incident, from the perspective of the boy.
Next was the story-boarding phase. And as we allocated jobs that asked them to focus on the individual aspects of a film (sound, imagery, location, etc.) I think they really started to get the intensive process of putting together a good piece. But none the less, they took to it with enthusiasm, and when we returned they greeted us with a detailed story board, with perfectly thought out shots and dialogue, that really highlighted the important parts of the story. They had chosen to focus on the image of the flower as a metaphor, and were planning some really beautiful shots to pull it off. With this as our outline, we made plans to shoot the next day, sourcing the most convenient locations around Chiang Mai, in the form of the Cultural Canvas office, and my apartment.
On the first day of filming, we met at the Cultural Canvas office to shoot scenes that required trees covered in flowers. The group had brought another young cousin to play the lead boy, and the boy had brought what seemed like an entire entourage of extras. The shoot went well though with takes inter-cut with trying to figure out who everyone actually was, and everyone agreeing that the kid was adorable. We left it with a good collection of shots, and excitement for the next day when we would shoot the indoor scenes.
When we arrived the next morning however, we learned that during the night, our star had been taken to the hospital, and was unable to complete filming. What would normally be a worst case scenario turned into just a casual set back, when it turned out the people at Mplus+ had three extra seven year olds just hanging around the office, waiting on something to do. We put them through their paces with a quick but rigorous audition process, and decided on a boy who told us his name was Mickey Mouse. At our next location, the apartment, everything fell into place, as the director and camera man really started to get invested in their work, and Mickey Mouse warmed up to the pace of shooting. It was hilarious watching them fall over themselves to get the shot, and really gratifying to see someone begin to care about getting the perfect shot in the way that I do as a photographer. Exactly what I wanted to share with the people in Chiang Mai. We wrapped up shooting the next day with a quick session to record vocals, to over-lay onto some of the shots.
The next phase of this production is the editing portion. I will be holed up in the office, splicing together their film in the hopes of creating something that preserves their message, and stands up to their initial vision. Seeing the dedication they put in, and the attachment they had to some of their images is my motivation, and we are currently working hard to get the software running on slow computers to make their ideas a reality. A screening is planned for the 19th of April, at which we will show this work, as well as others made by the people at Mplus+, and host a discussion and interactive art piece that aims to get the community talking about the ideas seeded in the piece. Fingers crossed for the future!