His film Wonderful Town won the Best Film Award from Supphannahong in 2009 and has been lauded at international festivals, including Pusan, where it received the Bean Pole New Currents Award. We speak to him about his second project, Hi-So, which just came out.

How did the idea for Hi-So come about?
Hi-So’s my most personal film. It’s based on my feelings of being an outsider both in the US where I studied, and also in Thailand when I returned. In the US, I was the guy from Thailand and in Thailand I am the guy from the US. Not belonging anywhere is a feeling shared by many people of my generation.

We heard that Hi-So was the first film you wrote. So what took you so long to produce it?
I was studying in university at that time. I was too young and didn’t know how to make it. So I put it away and did other things. Then in 2006, I started my company Pop Pictures and made Wonderful Town. When it was a success I had the chance to make another film so I told myself that this was the opportunity to go back to the beginning and to finish up what I started a long time ago.

Both films are about relationships.
I can’t think of anything more important to talk about besides love and relationships. I think it’s the best subject for movies.

Why cast Ananda, Cerise Leang and Sajee Apiwong?
I have known Ananda since he was 22. I met him when I first came back from the US and wanted to make Hi-So. It took me six years to make it, and in that time, he became a big star. I didn’t work with him because he’s famous, but because he’s perfect for the role. I wanted someone who spoke English and Thai, and there aren’t that many people who can. I worked with Cerise on a TV commercial in 2005. When I was casting Hi-So, I googled her and found her living and playing music in New York. I asked her to come to Bangkok to act in the movie, saying she would have some time to relax and practice her guitar. That was a fair trade, so she came. Finally, I met Sajee when I went to Chiang Mai. She was a student. I liked her immediately. I think the camera likes her a lot. She looks good on screen. She’s young and has no experience. Some actors have too much experience and it ruins them. Sajee came with nothing and that was what made her so special.

How do you define the word hi-so?
Every Thai person is fascinated by this word. In every magazine and TV soap opera, there is the hi-so life displayed for everyone to see. I have seen these soap operas since I was young and I always thought it was so different from the hi-so people that I know. The soap opera always focuses on material things: big house, nice car, expensive hand bags. But actually, many hi-so people are not like that at all. What makes them different is what is in their head. So I wanted to make my own version of this soap opera with love, relationships, and good-looking actors.


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