Sunday, April 18, 2021


From Thailand comes to the blog, Mr Wych Kaosayananda, a talented, recursive, groundbreaking director. Traditionally he directs action movies, but the topic that brought us to chat was his film "TWO OF US" aka "PARADISE Z" aka "DEAD EARTH" as is known in U.S.A, a drama-horror about two stranded girls in a post-zombie world trying to survive. Wych, commented us about the moment he got in love of films and his flashing career and how he has evolved since his first film ever. He dropped us plenty of advice he's acquarited from ever in this business. 

Join us and read this great interview, I know you will like it.

EFF: Wych, let me thank you for letting me interview you. Where are you from? Where and how emerged on you the filmmaking love?

WK: I'm full Thai. Born here and both my parents are Thai. My love for films came from my parents taking me to see Jaws in the cinema when I was 7 and that was pretty much that. My dad had a Sony Betamax and then we got our first VHS player a couple of years later, I watched so many movies on it, mostly pirated Videos as I was living in Islamabad Pakistan during the mid-80s, that I had to get a fan to blow onto the player to keep it from overheating.

EFF: Glancing over your filmography is clear to see you are an action director, but let's focus upon your horror film PARADISE Z aka DEAD EARTH, which was co-written and co-produced by you too, as well as to be the director. How did you elaborate the story? Why did you want to tell the story of two women stranded in a post-zombie world? 

WK: Dead Earth was originally called 2 of Us and it was something I'd wanted to do, almost as an experiment. I wasn't doing much that year so I had a lot of free time, and I wanted to not sit around the whole year so I came up with an idea. Something that we could do cheap and fast but had some good production values. My crew here in Thailand has been the same crew now for over ten years so I knew we could put something together. I thought it'd be interesting to follow the lives of two normal females who have to adapt and survive in a post Zombie world, but focus just on the two of them and nothing else. It was originally a straight drama. The threat of zombies would just hang over them but the emphasis was on their day-to-day life. I was going to just shoot it based on the idea, which became a treatment without a script and just improvise. I knew how I wanted it to open and how I wanted it to end. But then things changed a bit.

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EFF: Now, after having the story created, how was the project born out? The pitching process? Could you tell us a little bit about that hard process?
WK: It wasn't that hard really because I didn't have to pitch it to anyone. Continuing on from the previous question, as I got closer to doing 2 Of Us, all of a sudden a Producer I work with a lot called and said, Grindstone wants a movie with me and Mark Dacascos. I've known Mark for many years now, we met on the set of a Children's movie my company helped make, The Lost Medallion, and we've been friends since. We've always wanted to work together but couldn't quite get things going. Mark was shooting John Wick 3 at the time and I immediately reached out to him to see if he was available. He gave me his dates as to when he would be free and I set out to flesh out one of the stories that came about as we were bouncing ideas for 2 of Us. That story was about a Father and Daughter and it became The Driver. Originally, I wanted my own Daughter to star in it, which was one of the reasons I liked that story so much. I don't enjoy the writing process though and my Business Partner introduced me to his friend who wanted to write scripts, Steve Poirier who teaches in Korea. He did a really good job so I decided to ask him to write the screenplay for 2 of Us as well. I tied the two movies together so that they would be set in the same world and then added another movie to it, to make it three different movies set in the same world. The last one would tell the story of how everything became the way it was and how it ended. But back to your question on the pitch, it wasn't really a pitch, it was a movie that came together very quickly that Grindstone wanted. The Driver was not an expensive movie and 2 Of Us was an even less expensive movie and because they were loosely tied together in a world of zombies, we were able to sell both.

EFF: Speaking about the shooting stage. What was the hardest thing you faced off and how did you solve it? 

WK: The most difficult thing about 2 of Us was the location. I wanted to shoot the movie at a beach resort. It was designed around this one beach resort and Steve had written it for that beach resort. Which and a building and villas around it. So the script was all about them navigating stairs, basements, different rooms, elevators etc. but then I couldn't afford the resort, So, we ended up at a mountain resort which was as different as it could possibly be. Everything was spread out, the resort was very open, no walls, no gates, single story just vastly different. It was difficult to navigate the script in that setting, we were primed to shoot the movie without a script originally, so we basically used the script as a map and changed everything to fit our location as best we could. 

EFF: How do you set up your filmmaking process, I mean, before starting shooting, when you are shooting, day to day. Do you storyboard your movies? What strategies do you apply?
WK: I usually story board set pieces or anything that requires a lot of Visual Effects. I mentioned I work with the same crew so everything is a short hand for us now. The Tech Scout is the most important. That's when I block everything with my crew. From where and how the actors with be to how I want to shoot and light it. Our tech scouts are extensive, but it allows our shoots to be pretty efficient and hassle free. I am my own DP as well which makes things easier for me but it's really down to my crew, from my Line Producer to my ADs, my Gaffer, my Operator, my ACs, everyone. They're all really good at what they do, we're all good friends and the work environment feels more like a paid holiday. We shot 2 of Us in under two weeks and we didn't have a single day that went over 12 hours. My biggest advice to any filmmaker at any level, find and get the best crew you're able to and the filmmaking process will be a lot easier for you.

EFF: Where did you shoot the film and how it long took you?

WK: We shot it in Kanchanaburi which is a region in the Western part of Thailand that shares a long border with Myanmar. It's a beautiful region, mountains, caves, many rivers, it's where the River Kwai is. We shot the movie in 10 days total. Not because we wanted to, but because that was all we could afford.
"Two of Us" aka "Dead Earth"

EFF: In general, what advice you can give us about the key thing you learned making this movie? 

WK: Prior to making this movie, I'd never done a movie in less than 18 days and that was tough. The first two movies I did both had over 50 shooting days. The less money you have, the less time you have, prep becomes even more important. Prep and the crew are crucial, it’s always important but especially on lower budgets they are essential. I learned that my crew and I could do it and since then we've now made three movies in under 14 days. It isn't ideal, and it's not something we want to do, but it's good to know that we can do when we have to.

EFF: What camera did you use and why? 

WK: The Alexa Min,  two of them. I love the work flow, I love how uncomplicated it is and the sensor is great, but honestly, I'm happy shooting with any camera. The Reds are amazing as well and today there are just so many great choices for every budget. The most commonly used ones are probably still the Reds and the Alexas and you can't go wrong with either. The Glass is way more important though and not many non filmmakers pay enough attention to them. If you're using good glass you can shoot on either the Red or the Alexa or an equivalent camera, but if you're glass is bad, it doesn't matter what you're shooting on, your movie will not look good.

EFF: How has been the audience reaction? 

WK: As we expected. I knew from the start this movie was not for everyone. We actually knew it was probably going to appeal to a very limited amount of people because it's a very slow movie where nothing much happens for the first hour or so. But i'm very happy with it and proud to have made it. My two actors like it, my investor likes it, I'm glad we were able to make it.
Wych Kaosayananda Behind The Scenes - "Dead Earth"

EFF: What insights you can tell us about what meant to you shoot a horror movie, what differences from other genres you can tell us? On the creative and technical aspects speaking. 

WK: I don't think I know enough and have done enough in the horror movie genre to make any sort of meaningful statements on them. I used to be a huge horror movie fan. My gateway to cinema is after all Jaws and I grew up loving the Exorcist, Halloween, The Thing, Omen, The Changeling, all great horror movies. Scanner, Alien, Nightmare on Elm Street, Pet Sematary, I watched and loved them all, but since I went to College, I haven't watched many horror movies. I don't like to watch them to be honest. I feel horror movies today rely on technical things like sound, music and VFX to try and scare or more importantly, shock you. It doesn't feel the same anymore. Also I feel as I get older, I don't enjoy horror movies the same way I used to when I was younger. When I was younger I didn't watch any kids movies and watched a lot of horror, for the past fifteen years or so, I hardly watch horror movies and now watch every kids movies. 2 of Us to me isn't a horror movie. I approached it as drama, a mundane slice of life really. where two people who have no one but themselves, stuck in this one place where they're trying to keep everything normal,  but it isn't, and eventually no matter what you do or how hard you try to maintain it, all good things come to an end. I wasn't trying to scare anyone, mainly because I think it's very difficult to do, to scare an audience. Really scare an audience, not shock them or make them jump. But to scare them, it's why I love zombies so much. They can be anything, we've had so many great zombie movies, scary ones, comedies, action, dramas, we've had really good zombie movies in every genre now. 2 of Us is a really simple story, as I said before, a slice of life. I used two brand new actors and if I hadn't set the movie in a world full of zombies, no one would have brought it and instead of a low budget movie, it would have been a very expensive home movie and that's the truth.

EFF: Do you have in your mind to shoot horror again? 

WK: I'd love to do a proper horror movie, but not anytime soon. I genuinely feel it's the most difficult genre to make and one of the easiest for audiences to enjoy when done right. I do have a horror movie I want to make, but I’m not ready to make it yet. hopefully one day I will get to do it.

EFF: What advice would you give for those want-to-be filmmakers who are undecided in how to make their first film?  

WK: Just do it. If you want to make a movie, just do it. Use whatever resources you available to you and just do your best with it. It may suck or it could be the next biggest viral thing and get you noticed. Until you do it, you will never know. There’s so many tools available today from smart phones to DSLRs and beyond, editing tools are more user friendly, effects, sound libraries, music libraries, if you want to be a filmmaker, there's no excuse to not just go out and make something. Today, more so than at any time in our history, there are more platforms and distribution paths that need content than ever before, globally and if all else fails, there's,  youtube, vimeo and hundreds of other sites. Just go make it. Whatever movie it is you want to make, go make it. If you want to get noticed quicker, pour everything you have into making the best short you can instead of a feature film. It might not be easier but it will be cheaper.
Wych Kaosayananda - BTS - "Dead Earth"

EFF: What have you learned from this experience, as a director and producer? 

WK: This is simply too difficult a question to answer. I’ve been fortunate enough to have been doing this for over 20 years as a career and I'm learning something new with every new experience. All i can say is that I feel very lucky and privileged to be able to make movies for a living. 

EFF: How have you lived this pandemic? Personally, Professionally...?

WK: I've been fortunate. Thailand has handled the pandemic better than most countries. We had a lockdown for 5-6 weeks initially but since then day-to-day life has been pretty normal. My youngest son was born a few months prior to the pandemic, so, during this whole time it's been a blessing personally. I’ve really enjoyed spending every day with my family. Professionally it's been different of course. Last year we sold One Night in Bangkok so it hasn't hurt me as much but all my work comes from outside Thailand so the whole year was a write off in terms of new work almost. We were able to finish a movie right at the end of the year that we'd started some time back.

EFF: What new projects are you working on now, something you can anticipate us now? 

WK: Kane Kosugi and I have a movie we finished shooting at the end of last year called The Action Guy. It also stars Jason Patrick and it's something different for us. The post process for us is almost finished and then let’s see what happens. I also have a movie I will be directing with Peter Lenkov and I Producing. I've known Peter for a long time, he's a brilliant writer and last year, he saw One Night In Bangkok and called me. He told me he really liked the movie and he had a script he wanted me to read. That was enough for me because as I said, I've known Peter for a very long time and know how he writes and the script didn't disappoint. it's amazing, we're really looking forward to making this one.

Wych Kaosayananda, Antonio Banderas and Talisa Soto in "Ballistick" in 2002

EFF: If a producer gives you a chance to direct a horror film remake, what would it be and why? 

WK: Many many years ago when I was still living in LA, a Producer did offer me a horror remake to do a very good one, it was a remake of a movie I loved and I knew it would do very well because the script was fantastic. But, I was just coming off a terrible experience in post on Ballistic and I just didn't have the heart to do a movie right then and I passed. The movie went on to do extremely well and I tell this story only because it's the reason why I would never do a remake of a horror movie. It’s never going to be as good as that one. 

EFF: Something you would like to say? 

WK: I think we've covered a lot. Thank you for seeking my thoughts and asking about my movie and experiences. It's been fun sharing them with you.

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