Best known for horror hits like Shutter (2004) and Ladda Land (2011), director Sophon “Jim” Sakdaphisit was recently tasked with creating Thailand’s first Netflix original, The Stranded (Khweng). We caught up with Jim to talk about his red-hot sci-fi drama-thriller and the sudden rise of Thailand’s film industry.
Where did the inspiration for The Stranded come from?
The original, rough idea came from the Netflix Los Angeles team. However, at first, the storyline was presented as a way of revealing Thai myths from a foreign perspective. But we thought we should give them something that has never seen before if we were going to represent ourselves to the world. It just had to be different from other TV series. Netflix’s executive producer, Gally, said that recently there have been a lot of zombie, vampire and mystery series. With Netflix looking to expand their market in Asia Pacific, they wanted to build on those trends to examine the region’s unique mythologies. They wanted to put more attention-grabbers into the production to make the [The Stranded] more exciting than ever.
Where was the series shot?
The series was filmed at so many places across Thailand, but we mostly shot it on Koh Si Chang and in Chumphon province.
What was the process like?
You can divide it into two parts: planning and managing. In terms of planning, there was no difference between filming movies and this TV series, whether you’re talking about camera angles, plot or timing. The management system was completely different from what we’re used to, though. We worked with a Thai crew that has only ever produced foreign films, and the head of CG from Netflix worked closely with us, since there are several CG scenes in the series. The Netflix team was also involved in writing and editing. There was a lot of discussion between us about the script—we didn’t want to make it too Thai or too Western.
Why do you think the thriller/horror genre is so popular right now?
I think it’s just a coincidence that a lot of thrillers and horrors were released recently. When we first started working on The Stranded, we didn’t intend to define it by a genre [like that]. We just did what we wanted to do.
What does Netflix launching a Thai series say about the market?
As I mentioned, Netflix is beginning to expand its market in Asia Pacific. We see this as a good opportunity for Thai filmmakers, since we’ve never done projects like this before.
What’s in the pipeline for you now?
There are other ongoing projects, but they’re all still secrets. Stay tuned!