Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Thai 'First Flight' Behind the Scenes

BEHIND THE SCENES OF...

"FIRST FLIGHT"

"Siam was the first country in Asia to have a flying program"

www.firstflightthemovie.com
 

BEHIND THE SCENES

"In a time of innocence, when East meets West, this is a story of dreams and courage in the skies of Siam..."

FIRST FLIGHT is the story of the early history of aviation in the Kingdom of Siam.

Thai Introduction
to "First Flight"

This film is about Thailand's "First Flight" (Raak Bin in Thai language). Set before World War I in the early days of aviation, The King of Siam wants airplanes to come to the Kingdom. Siam is an untouched land with a gentle and ancient Buddhist culture. This is a film about West and East - the cultures are different. Kipling one wrote: "West is West and East is East, and never the twain shall meet." Before the airplane arrived in Siam, the only things that could fly were Noks (birds) and Nang Fahs (angels). 
On the 02nd of February in 1911 - during the reign of The Sixth Rama, H.M. King Vajiravudh - The first aircraft to fly in the Kingdom of Siam is a Henry Farman type biplane flown by Mr. Van Den Born. It comes from Saigon, Indochina and lands at the Royal Racing Track in Bangkok. The King is impressed. 

Three Siamese military officers are sent to France to learn how to fly. 
Luang Gat is one of these young officers. He returns from France with a dream. He wants to start a military aviation wing in Siam. There are many physical and cultural obstacles he must overcome.  

The Aircraft brought to Siam is the Breguet 14. It is a light bomber, reconnaissance aircraft and trainer made in France. 
Luang Gat invites his old flight instructor and friend, Pierre, to come to Siam and to help him train the first Siamese pilots. Pierre's beautiful wife has died in a plane crash in France. His heart is broken. Pierre accepts his friend's invitation to journey to a foreign land. 

The pilot candidates are chosen from an elite corps of royal family members and privileged  military officers. 

One of the pilots is from a more humble background ...

ACTORS COMMENTS

Duang (Sonram Thepitak) -- Pee Num is one of the most popular actors in Thailand, and he is the man this film is about. In First Flight, he plays a farmer's son. Someone of his position would never be able to fly. But he has a dream. Pierre hires him to help maintain the airplanes, and soon his aptitude and abilities are realized by those around him. In a way, this film is about dreams, and in the end, everyone gets their dream. He rides his bicycle and follows the airplane. He struggles and falls in love. All sorts of things happen, but in the end... well, you have to wait and see the film. Pee Num doesn't have an email. (comments coming...)

Malai (played by Songporn Thongmark) -- Khun Ah plays the role of the high-ranking military officer's daughter who captures Duang's heart. She has appeared in the music video "Sawai Jang," but this is her first major film. She did very well. (comments coming...)
Luang Gat (played by Khajohnsak Rattanisai) -- Luang Gat is by far the coolest guy on the film (tae mak!). No one can smoke a cigar like Luang Gat. Khun John comes from the village of Bang Phra and is a country man at heart. One day, we saw him watering and cleaning a Boxing Chicken in a small village in Suphanburi and teaching everyone the art and science of cockfighting. Luang Gat is the driving force behind the aviation program beginning in Siam. He has a dream. He encounters enormous obstacles from Siamese functionaries and from ancient Siamese customs that see aviation as a threat. He is a dynamic and charismatic presence throughout the film. Luang Gat has no email and probably doesn't like computers. (comments coming...)

a local Nakorn Sawan fan hanging out with Luang Gat

Roy Toe Rat (played by Wuttichai Maikan) -- Khun Nhong has previously acted in the Thai movie "Born Blood in Bangkok" and he has also acted in the TV series "Jom Jai Jom Ken." He enjoys acting because it is fun, challenging, and he gets to meet new people and make new friends. He also feels that when he is acting, he gets experience that he can use in real life. In First Flight, he plays the character of Rat from a wealthy middle class background who wants to fly. He loves photography, because he likes to capture the "inside soul" of people, and carries his tripod camera around with him everywhere. Rat has one problem, he can't see very well, but he wants to prove that he can still fly. The hardest scene in the film for him is after he crashes an airplane. He fights with Asada, then puts a gun to his head. He has to feel that everything has failed because of him; everyone hates him. His only way out is to shoot himself. This was a challenge, and it really gave him a perspective into what people who commit suicide must go through. Khun Rat looks up to the director, Khun Thanit, because it was his idea to put this film together. He thinks that Thai people will like this film, because it is about someone who has a dream and the courage to follow his dream. Email Rat

Roy Toe Toy Thep (played by Padungsak Kitwanitkajorn) -- We took Toy Thep flying in a real airplane before filming began, and this guy is one of the coolest pilots we have seen. Even a zero-G pushover did little to phase him. Toy Thep is a royal family gentleman who represents the distinguished and elite element of the fledgling military aviation program in Siam. The buffalo charges his plane and sends him and Luang Gat up a tree. Pierre tries to save them, then gets chased away on his bicycle. (comments coming...)

 

Roy Toe Neung Suknan (played by Khun Nattawut Suvanarat) -- Khun Knox was born in Thailand but lived in USA for 20 years. He returned to Thailand to start an acting career, and First Flight is his third major movie. He has previously acted in BangRaJan (Village Warrior) and the Legend of Khun Pan. Knox loves acting because it gives him the opportunity to be in someone else's shoes. He can learn and express what another character is feeling, and he likes this challenge. Acting in the movie First Flight taught him that Flying is a hard thing. The dream is in the air, and you have to grab it. Knox's character is a playboy. He is a handsome middle class young man, and likes the girls. He is a romantic, and he loves music. In the film, Knox's character thinks that if he becomes a pilot, then this will be something to show the girls. "The sky is everything," he says. Knox feels that acting in this film was a combination of good fun and hard work. His hardest scene was Luang Gat's crash and crying. He respects Khun Thanit, the director, because he was the man with the vision that put this all together. He thinks Thai people will learn a lot about the history of the plane and flying in Thailand, and he thinks that after seeing this movie many Thai people will believe "the sky is not the limit anymore." Email Knox.

Roy Toe Dam Geun (played by Khun Kritsada Tatcharatipat) -- Khun Ya has acted in a series on the ITV channel (Lang Man Ma Ya) and also in the upcoming series on Channel 7 (Meu Peun Pau Look Tit). First Flight is his first major film. His character is a "Look Tung" (or country) person who is a very close friend to Luang Gat. His father is a "pooyai baan" (village elder) who has great influence on decisions in the village. Luang Gat pushes Dam Geun to be a pilot, because it is a good way for him to increase his military rank. Ya enjoys acting because it is a good way to learn about people. "You have to do your homework to find out and then you can learn more about life." Acting in a film for theater is different that TV, because the eye line, marks, and camera position are so important. Everything on the big screen is much bigger, so it is that much more important to have all the details perfect. Ya likes the concept for this film because it is about "Fan Hai Glei..." and pushing yourself to the limit. The hardest scene for him in the film was the "drama scene" when one of the characters dies. He has the most respect for Khun Pia (the cameraman), because he does everything the best he can. "He is 'tum tay' and I learn a lot from his style and thinking." Khun Ya thinks First Flight will be great for Thai people because there is a strong message in this film -- Don't wait for the chance (Ya Raw Ogat)... Go and get it! You have to take it. It sounds like "Carpe Diem" to me. Email Ya 

Roy Toe Asada (played by Chirakit Suwannarath) - Asada is jealous. He doesn't like Duang. He makes life difficult for Duang. He doesn't like Rat either. The characters and dynamics between them makes this film a very deep and colorful drama to watch unfold. Excellent casting selection has brought together some diverse characters. (comments coming...) Email Khun Krit.

Roy Ek Chat (played by Wasan Khumson) -- Chat is the military functionary who looks after all the pilots. He doesn't fly, but he is there on the scene all the time. Chat took his "first flight" before filming began, and when we went weightless, he really screamed. Chat likes it on the ground. Phone: 01 8694757. (comments coming...)

Pierre (played by Tom Claytor) -- Tom is a pilot, not an actor. He has been the subject of several documentary films by National Geographic and Discovery, but this is his first feature film. In preparation for this film, he was taught for two months that "acting is believing," so this is what he tries to do. Tom likes to help develop general aviation in Thailand, and he feels that this film will be a great inspiration to Thai people. Tom is also the technical advisor and aerial pilot on the film, and this will be the first time a Thai movie uses actual aerial footage. Tom loves this film, because it is about a little guy with a dream. He likes the Thai proverb "Fan Hai Glei Pai Hai Teung" (only as far as you seek can you go), and he has a small foundation which helps people to realize their dreams. Tom is very grateful to Sonram and Knott for all their acting advice on the set. The script is in Thai, and Tom is speaking French, so he is greatful to Khun F for her great translating. He thinks Khun Pia is the star of this film. He looks like the "Terminator" behind that camera, and he knows that "la passion a toujours raison." Email Tom

Poot (played by Samit Rila) & Chaeng (played by Thawatchai Kachaanan) -- These are Duang's friends and represent the humorous element in Duang's life. They are part of his past and the origin of his dream. In life, we all have friends. Sometimes, they inspire us, and sometimes, they don't want us to leave them. (comments coming...)

Kanita is Toy Thep's sister and helps Pierre teach the pilotsKanitha (played by Khun Chompoonut Sawaetwong) -- Khun Pook (or Alexandra) acted the role of the eldest princess (Phra Baromdilok) in the Classic Thai movie Suriyothai. She plays the role of Toy Thep's sister in First Flight. She has been educated in Penang, so she is "modern" for her time in the film. In ancient Siam, it is difficult for someone of her position to move forward. In the film, she likes Pierre, because he is from the outside. He represents hope for her, and a chance that she can be liberated do something different with her life. Pook enjoys acting because it is fun and it gives her a chance to explore different roles. She likes to analyze characters, and she finds it challenging to put herself in a situation as a different individual. She says that this film taught her a lot about responsibility and dealing and working with many different types of people. She also learned a lot about Thai Femininity. She learned a lot from watching Pee Num (Sonram), because he is very down-to-earth and responsible and considerate of everybody. He brings a lot of professionalism to the set, and he is very open to teach and help others. Pook hopes that the movie First Flight will make Thai people more proud of their country and its accomplishments. "I hope people enjoy the film and that it gives them a sense of hope too!" Email Pook

Janram (played by Chuntikarn Chunlanan) -- Khun Git has a minor role in First Flight. She is Duang's old girl friend who leaves him for a richer guy when Duang is just a farm boy. Off camera, she taught us about the Thai word "Gin Jai" (eat heart). She thought the film First Flight should Gin Jai, which means to eat the heart of the people who see it. Khun Git is now acting in many Thai movies and was an active presence at the past Thai film awards. (comments coming...)

Khun Git is Duang's old girlfriend

Khun Pia (Cameraman - Teerawat Rujeenatham) -- "I really love this film," Khun Pia tells me. Throughout the filming of First Flight, there was one man who was awake and behind the camera from 5 AM throughout the day and into the night, sometimes as late as 2 AM. He was on cranes, sliding camera platforms, camera boats in the river, on foot next to buffalos, and even doing barrel rolls in real airplanes. We nicknamed him "Piabo" (Rambo's brother), because he just didn't know when to stop. This is the 4th movie for Khun Pia as Director of Photography; his previous films were Moon Hunter, Kun Pan, and Man Gun Loi. Pia got interested in making films, because beautiful films moved him, and he wanted to create lasting images like these. His favorite is the Danish film, "My Life as a Dog." Pia says that when he makes a movie, he learns about people. Movies reflect the real world. It is like reading a book, and he can learn from a new character with experiences different from his. Pia has great respect for Pee Luang, because he works very hard and does everything possible to make the best film. Pia was his assistant on the film "Sna Luee Him." You have to put the energy in, he says. Khun Pia has no fear when he makes a film, but the most important thing is that when a problem occurs, you must be "jai yen yen" (keep cool). "Yes, this is best. You have to face the problem and think about a solution." Pia never really cared about aviation before, but during the filming of First Flight, he learned that during that period in Siam the pilots really did have a brave heart. "There was no safety; it was just you and the engine." Pia also learned about the feeling of flying while working on this film. "It is great, because you can see the world. The emotion comes from what you see. On the ground, you see low. Up high, you see high. It gives you a different perspective on the world." Pia also learned about "G-force." During a barrel roll you really stay in the seat. In fact, you can't move. For Pia, the most difficult scene to shoot was every scene with the buffalo, because you cannot control it. The buffalo's name was "Boon Rawd" and no one could control it. The syle of cinematography in this film is very simple, Pia says. The exposure, camera movement, angle, light were all very simple. We try to make an innocent film about simple people similar to the Italian film, "La Posario." Pia explains that this film is a drama based on a true story. It is a small story from Thai history. Most people don't know about it, but after watching this film, he thinks they will be very proud about it. Khun Pia got to play with a lot of different camera rigs on this film. His favorite was the "Hot Head." He likes that, because the camera moves and he can sit still. Pia is from the South Thailand. His dream is to one day make a film about his hometown Trang. Email Khun Pia.
Adjan Nimit (Acting coach - Nimit Pipitkhun) -- Most of the actors in the film First Flight spent two months in acting class with Adjan Nimit before the shooting began. Nimit loves acting, and he is an excellent teacher. He taught his students that "acting is believing." You have to believe in your character and make it real. We all learned a lot of techniques how to do this, and one of the important ones was "background" and "motivation." You must know or create these elements, so they come through in your character. Of course, Nimit also taught all his students how to breathe. "Center Power," he calls it. And when you don't know what to do, then just breathe. Most of the films in Thailand are either about Ghosts, Action or Comedy. Nimit's dream for First Flight was that it would be a drama and a classic recount of a time of innocence. This should be the future of the Thai Film industry. Adjan Nimit has just started his own acting school, and we wish him well. If you are interested in acting lessons, call Monta Acting School 015521372 or Khun Nimit 016570241.

Khun Thanit Jitnukul is the main director of First Flight. He decided to make this film because he is scared of flying. Thailand's Best Director in 2001 for Bang Ra Jan, Khun Thanit brings a long line of experience to the production of First Flight. He has promised us that before the film premiers in December 2003, he will come and take his own "first flight" in a real airplane in celebration of the completion of the film. Khun Knott tells us that if the film is a success, "he flies without flying." We wish him well on both of his "First Flights." Chok Dee Khun Thanit
17th December 2003 will be the 100th anniversary of the Wright Brother's First Flight at Kitty Hawk in the United States. The premier of First Flight in Thailand will commemorate this "Centennial of Flight."
- Wright Brothers Aeroplane Company and Museum of Aviation Pioneers
- Wright Brothers quick introduction from childhood to first flight
- Re-Living the Wright Way (technical and scientific)
- Scientists and Thinkers: Wilbur and Orville Wright (by Bill Gates)
- The "Wright" Stuff (FAA website)
- The First Flight Society
- Wilbur and Orville Wright by Gary Bradshaw (links provided by Naomi Sato)

Asada practing his "eecha" (jealous face)

Sonram (Duang), Khun Pia and Tom (Pierre)

Pierre's wife in France (Malin Moberg - 01 3620717)

Pierre teaches Duang how to fly by using a bicycle and a wooden model airplane.

The aircraft being used in the production of  FIRST FLIGHT are the French built Breguet-14. This aircraft was designed by Louis Breguet in 1916, and was one of the first aircraft constructed with duralumin in the airframe. It entered service in 1917. It was mass produced in several variations, including a seaplane model. Before the end of the war the Breguet-14 saw service as a reconnaissance aircraft, a day/night bomber and an air ambulance. Thailand obtained the type around 1919, and then license-built them in substantial numbers. For more information on early aviation in the Kingdom of Siam, Email Steve Darke (aviation historian). Pictured here is a scale copy of the Breguet-14 being filmed against a blue screen. The blue screen allows the aircraft to be filmed on the ground with the actors, then later placed into actual aerial footage over Thailand. 

"Barrel Roll" training - Dam Geun gets sick

Airstrip at Pak Chong

Khun Bank in charge of continuity

the "Wind maker" for shooting aerials in the Breguet model

Khun Cream

Malai and Duang in the hangar

Rat high kicks the buffalo

The pilots ready before their First Flight before the public

the Gung Gang - financial control unit

Khun F and Bank - "over!"

Taking the Actors on their "First Flight"

trying to clear the water off the airstrip

Neung demonstrating scenes from his previous movie

Watching flight training films

Asada fights with Rat

Pierre and Chat working on the engine

Luang Gat and Cream at rest

 

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Director - Khun Thanit Jitnukul

Khun F teaching French to Kanita and Sarah

Directed by Khun Thanit Jitnukul (Thailand's Best Director in 2001 for Bang Ra Jan), "FIRST FLIGHT" is on its way to becoming a classic. There is romance and adventure, but the music, images and the story line give the appearance of a creating a film that will "Gin Jai" (eat your heart). It is a film about a little guy with the dream in the magical era of innocence and youth. On the 100th anniversary of the Wright Brothers first flight in 1903, this will be the first time that a Thai film has an opportunity to make "its own First Flight" by using actual aerial footage!!! Film opens in Thai theaters on 21 May 2004.

The lead actor in the movie is Sonram Tepitak. His father, in real life, is also an actor in the film and plays the role of a Village elder, who allows an airstrip to be built nearby the village. None of the actors playing the roles of "pilot" in the film have ever flown in a small airplane, so part of the preparation for the film involved each of these pilots taking his own "first flight," so that he could get the actual feel of flying for the first time. In acting class, all the actors were taught, "acting is believing." One of the most important tools to use while acting is to know or create the character's "background" and "motivation" for each particular scene. The script is in Thai, and the actors are speaking Thai and French. Communication is the challenge.


www.thaiflyingclub.com/linkfirstflight.html

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