Having honed his craft making award-winning short films and independent features and writing commercial screenplays, Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit makes his much-hyped mainstream studio directorial debut this week with Freelance Ham Puay Ham Phak Ham Rak More (ฟรีแลนซ์.. ห้ามป่วย ห้ามพัก ห้ามรักหมอ, a.k.a. Heart Attack).
A romantic comedy, it's about a stressed-out graphic designer who comes down with a skin rash and falls in love with the attractive female doctor who's treating him. The story, written by Nawapol, is loosely based on his own experiences as a struggling, stressed-out "freelance" filmmaker.
Freelance follows his much-acclaimed indie features, the low-budget experimental romance 36, the more-ambitious and more-overtly quirky Mary Is Happy, Mary Is Happy and the pirate-video documentary The Master.
Released by GTH, Thailand's most-successful movie studio, everything about Freelance is calculated to fill the multiplexes.
By his lonesome, Nawapol proved to be a one-man publicity juggernaut, putting buns in seats for his indie efforts solely through posts on Twitter and Facebook. Now he has the might of GTH's marketing machine behind him. It's the same factory that cranked out the box-office record breaker Pee Mak in 2013 and last year's No. 1 movie I Fine Thank You Love You.
Further interest in Freelance is guaranteed by the film's bankable stars, leading man Sunny Suwanmethanon from I Fine and Davika Hoorne from Pee Mak
Of course it also helps that Nawapol has actually been part of the GTH family for several years, having had a hand in the screenplay to the 2009 box-office smash Bangkok Traffic Love Story and writing 2011's entertaining young entrepreneur biopic Top Secret.
You can read more about Freelance in an article in The Nation. Owing to Nawapol's indie roots, Freelance is being screened at the indie theaters, Lido and House, which is unusual because those places rarely host first-run mainstream Thai commercial features. So if you have a chance, support the indie cinemas and see Freelance at one of those venues. It's rated 13+
Also of local interest this week is the South Korean-Thai romantic comedy So Very Very (จริงๆ มากๆ, Jing Jing Mak Mak).
Directed by Park Jae-wook, the story is about aspiring filmmaker Sung-hoon (Oh Chang-kyung), who is working in Thailand and falls for a local lady named Pan (Cho Ha-young). The two get married and move to South Korea. But Pan soon wearies of struggling with an indie filmmaker husband who can only land minor jobs in TV and films, so she decides to return to Thailand.
Rated 15+, it's in Korean with Thai (update: and English) subtitles at House on RCA.
The trailer is embedded below.
Meanwhile, with GTH's Freelance in wide release, another member of the GTH family, Banjong Pisanthanakun, helmer of the hits Pee Mak and Hello Stranger, will screen one of his favorite films at the Bangkok Art and Culture Center on Saturday in the ongoing Cinema Diverse: Director's Choice series.
It's The Chaser, a terrific crime thriller from 2008 that was the feature debut by South Korean director Na Hong-jin. He'll be in attendance for a talk about his film with Banjong afterward.
Registration opens at 4.30pm, with the screening at 5.30 in the BACC's fifth-floor auditorium.
For more on the new offerings in Thai cinemas, check out the Bangkok Cinema Scene, which is updated each Thursday.