Thursday, September 25, 2008

A visit to Day 1 of the Thailand Entertainment Expo 2008

The Thailand Entertainment Expo opened yesterday at Royal Paragon Hall, hosting 78 exhibitors from the fields of music, film, television, animation, software and multimedia.

It's running alongside the Bangkok International Film Festival, which is taking place down the street at CentralWorld.

At the Expo, Thailand's major film production companies were grouped under the umbrella of the Federation of National Film Associations of Thailand, which has organized the following market screenings:
  • The Last Moment (Rak/Sam/Sao) - 1pm Wednesday.
  • Sabaidee Luang Prabang - 3pm Wednesday.
  • Valentine (Chris Kub ja Ba Sud Sud) - 1pm Thursday
  • Chocolate - 3.20pm Thursday
  • Hormones - 12.50pm Friday
  • The Coffin - 15.20pm Friday
  • First Flight - 1pm Saturday
  • Where the Miracle Happens - 3pm Saturday
  • Art of the Devil III - 12.50pm Sunday
  • King Naresuan Part I - 2.50pm Sunday

Aside from GMM Grammy, which had a booth mainly devoted to its music and radio business, none of the major film companies like Sahamongkol or Five Star had booths -- they were letting FNFAT do the talking for them.

The FNFAT team provided a helpful catalog of nearly every film made in the past year, as well as some upcoming productions. It'll be an excellent reference.

The National Film Archive and the Thai Film Foundation also had a major presence, and have helped organize the market screenings.

And there's a booths for the National Film Office, which handles permits for foreign shoots, the Tourism Authority of Thailand, and the excellent, honestly supportive folks at the Office of Contemporary Art and Culture.

Significantly, Prommitr Production, the company of Naresuan director MC Chatrichalerm Yukol has a booth. They have some of the nifty-looking polyurethane prop swords, armour and rifles that they have made, thanks to technology from New Zealand's WETA Workshop. All that clanging you hear in the movies is the work of foley artists.

Prommitr also has its film studio - a sprawling 700-acre location in Kanchanaburi Province that was built to make the Naresuan movies. With old-timey Siamese palaces and villages, the place doubles as a theme park, where folks can dress up in period costumes and have their pictures taken. There's even a dungeon.

A handful of other production companies had booths.

I visited the Right Beyond display, picking up a showreel disc and booklet from deputy managing director Jean.

This is the company that produced the teen romance Friendship, with Mario Maurer from The Love of Siam and Apinya Sakuljaroensuk from Ploy. The DVD has English subs, Jean tells me.

An upcoming Right Beyond effort is the Thai-Taiwanese horror, The Fatality by director Tiwa Moeithaisong. It's due out in Thailand in early 2009, Jean says.

The company has been doing a lot of direct-to-video releases, like The Legend of Snake, The Killer Snake, The Passion Python -- hmm, I'm detecting a theme here. You may also remember Cursed Hair? That's one of Right Beyond's too.

Another company I passed by was 20th June Entertainment and Toranong Studio, which has such titles as 2022 Tsunami, The Baby: Secret of the World and Amphetamine War. I didn't ask how those were coming along. The Bangkok Post had a story about Mr. Toranong back in June (cache).

I also ducked inside Work Point Entertainment's booth. They had an elaborate touch-screen set-up to navigate, with lots of pictures of their production facilities. Who knew such hi-technology went into the making of Ching Roi, Ching Lan?

There was a demonstration of motion-capture technique. It was early in the day yet -- I think a permanent secretary of commerce was making a speech outside, so attendance in the exhibition hall was sparse. So the mo-cap show didn't last long. I think it was just a warm-up.

I also checked out the animation display of the Software Industry Promotion Agency, a public organization that is promoting the "content industry, including animation, games [and] edutainment". They had a colorful exhibit that included the likes of Nak and Khan Kluay plus a bunch of Thai animated TV series and videos I'm not familiar with, plus Bloody Bunny.

This is the first year for the Thailand Entertainment Expo, organized by the Department of Export Promotion of the Ministry of Commerce. It runs until Sunday, September 28, with Saturday and Sunday open to the public.

Update: Kong Rithdee files for Variety.

Originally, the expo was aimed to be the film market for the festival. But many studios don't have booths, and those who do don't expect any major deals. This is a good event "to make contact with our existing as well as new customers, though it's more like an exhibition than a real marketplace," said an executive at a major Thai studio. "But the organization is up to the standard, and hopefully, it will have more impact in the following years."

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