Wassachol Sirichanthanun interviewed Napat Treepalawisetkun as a class assignment, and then she posted the full interview in her Facebook. I think the interview is very interesting, so I asked for her permission to post it here, too. I hope you enjoy reading it:
This piece of interview is a part of my journalism class at the university. I’ve made a long-length interview which is longer than the teacher expected. Fall out that I’ve to cut many questions off. I feel that I’ve got to do something about it so I decided to post the complete edition in here.
Hope you all enjoy it though! : )
(Also sorry for my broken English na ka)
“KILLING IN THE NAME OF NAPAT”
By Wassachol Sirichanthanun
February 8, 2010 at 4:45 PM
Surat Osathanugrah Library, Bangkok University, Rangsit Campus
Napat Treepalawisetkun, 19-year-old Bangkok University film student, has just been mentioned in the magazine Indian Auteur as one of the most interesting young independent Thai directors these days. His works reached maturity much quicker than it supposes to be. They are very controversial because of sexual and political contents. Blood, skin, inner organs, knife, scissors, gun, masturbation and seduction are his main elements. Hired gun, gossip models, spoiled girl, guilty mother and disable son are his main characters. He has got a reputation from the way he presents the films and approaches the audiences; unique, stunning, provoking and completely different from other young directors in the circle. He won many prizes from the short film festivals held by Thai Film Foundation these years. Last year he didn’t get the prize but his film “Seduction Lullaby” was considered one of the most interesting films in the festival. More than two hundreds audiences seemed shocked and screamed out loud at the same time as the climax scene pop up. This is the situation that has never happened before in the record of Thai short film screening. His sparkling eyes answered me why his films, and also he himself, shouldn’t be overlooked.
Q–How did you start involving in the film career?
A–Basically, I love watching various kinds of film. Then when I was in Mattayom 5, I started to feel that I’ve to make my own film. So I wrote a script called “A Series of Salinee Event” and went over it for many times. I wrote many drafts of them with Nene my actress to get the best script. Then I attended the filmmaking workshop held by Durakit Pundit University. I started to film it right away after the workshop and later I received the honorable mention for Special White Elephant Award, the award for under-18 filmmakers, from the 12th Thai Short Film Festival.
Q–Who is your most influenced inspiration?
A–I think it’s because I like thriller film a lot. I really love Tuck Bongkoch’s acting in “The Passion” at the time so we got an idea about making a film dedicated to her. After Tuck Bongkoch, we discovered John Waters and he proved that she is completely a loser. Divine his actress came up in our mind. At last, this film came out and it was full with blood and inner organs. I’ve to say that he has become my biggest inspiration since then until now. Because of his insanity, it made me feel that this film is completely out of control. Everything he has done made me realize that making a film has no need to be pretended. I prefer the more realistic way but with an extreme expression too. This is the reason why I like him.
Q–Lately, you works seem to be more realistic, sensitive and deep down inside people’s heart. How did this idea become you today?
A–At that time I saw the film “The Ring.” There is one part in the film that shows a horror video clip which has nothing to be afraid of. It was just a manipulation of ordinary pictures but it had haunted me for many days. So after seeing this film, I felt like making something like this too. This idea forced me to make the 3-minute film “The Dress.” The feedback from the audience was so good that it encouraged me to go on making film in the less showy style. Later, I was influenced by Michael Haneke’s “The Piano Teacher” and “Hidden.” I’ve found out that this is my way. I wanted to try the more dramatic, realistic and depressive way to the put a pressure on the audience.
Q–John Waters and Michael Haneke are so different. Could you please tell us about the time when you started to change your attitude?
A–I possibly get bored of being aggressive after making about 7-8 films in Waters’ style. I started to feel that it’s time to try another style then Haneke came into my life in the perfect time. So I thought I’d better try this way. At the same time, Nene was not interested in acting anymore. That’s why my style has changed.
Q–Most of your films contain a lot of violence. Why do you believe in this style of portraying the story? Why do you think that violence could present your idea better than any other way?
A–Actually I didn’t mean to film such a violent film at all. But when I started to write the script, something always pushes me in this track. It’s possibly because of my family that makes me absorb this violence.
Q–Have you ever thought about making a non-violent film after this?
A–I really want to but I’m not sure how it’s going to be. Actually I’m thinking about making a new film at the time. It’s a film about aliens. At first, no violence would appear in the film as it is a sci-fi movie. After thinking over about it, the scene that an alien seduces a woman pops up. He does that in order to produce more human descent. I’m making another violent film again, you see? (Laugh) The event will happen in the future era when human is not allowed to have sex anymore. The special ones who are allowed to do so have to be selected. They have to stay in a place like Nazi’s concentration camp. Only the perfect mans are staying there. (Laugh) I’m going to film it for real. You all would get a chance to see it soon. It’s a film about womankind after all.
Q–Talking about womankind, I’ve found out that most of your films are involved with the maternity. They are more likely to deal with a relationship between mother and daughter than any other kinds of relationship. Why are you so interested in this topic?
A–Actually I’ve never thought about this before but I admit that all of them are about mother and daughter, not even a son. Maybe it’s because I worship womankind. I really attached to my mother when I was young. It makes me curious about the maternity.
Q–What about the relationship between you and your mother?
A–When I was young, my mother worked out a lot so I didn’t see her so often. I was with my father more but I’ve a conflict with him so I don’t even feel like I love him at all. I just accept him as a birth-giver, that’s all. A little bit sad but true. I love my mother but I haven’t spent time with her much, that’s why I want to explore the maternity that I hardly know about.
Q–Some film critics criticized your works so frankly that you have your own signature but can’t break out of making films dedicated to those big directors at all. They said they want to see the real you. How do you feel about this comment?
A–I admit that every single film of mine was inspired by those directors and I had a real intention to dedicate my films to them. Every idea in my films came after I was attracted by each film and each director. I don’t know what to do so I decided to make a film dedicated to him. But asking about making a film without an “Inspired by” or “Dedicated to”, I think it’s impossible for me. It seems that they are the reason why I’m still making film today. They have shaped me a lot, that’s why my films are always like this. I don’t feel anything about this comment because it’s real. I really used their style to make my own films. My own original style might appear someday but I’ve to wait. My style has been changing continuously during these days. “I Will Rape You with This Scissors” and “Seduction Lullaby” are not the same. The alien film I’m making this year is another style. This sci-fi one might be my own original one because I haven’t got the inspiration from anyone but me.
Q–Some critics said that your directing has been developing continuously since the film “Seduction Lullaby.” How do you feel about this comment? Do you have an idea of setting yourself straight in directing? Are you interested in working in other positions as well?
A–I’ve to thank them so much for the comment and I’m glad to take it as an encouragement. What I am today also derived from the environment. Studying in film school made me realize that I’ve been overrated my films for a long time. I first thought that my films are good enough until I walked into this film school. I feel that they are so bad that I wanted to improve my own skill. It is also because of my friend Bentley, a young director and editor who studies here with me. His works, shooting, directing, and script, are perfect because he always thinks of every possibility. All factors went through his thinking process. I wanted to do something like that too so I tried to think more carefully and effectively in “Seduction Lullaby.” I had got a headache for a couple of days after finishing the script and shooting the whole film. Asking about setting myself straight in directing, I don’t think I want to work as a director that much. If possible, I’d better be a critic or a teacher and let film making be my hobby instead. I think I might enjoy teaching more than going out for a shoot. Being a teacher is not that bad. I think it’s a job that uses a lot of thoughts. It’s nice to produce good human resources for the future. But if talking about other positions in production house, I think I’m interested in costume design and sound design because these jobs require a lot of thoughts and creativity. I like various styles of music. There is also an Indian song in “I Will Rape You with This Scissors.” I like Indian song the most because its vocal and instrumental sounds are so provoking. I also love classical music especially Vivaldi. I also admired the Japanese sound designer Koichi Shimizu. I think this job is very interesting.
Q–You also acted in your own film “Seduction Lullaby” and your friend’s “Passion Sonata.” In your opinion, what are the differences between directing others, directing your own self, and directed by other?
A–In “Seduction Lullaby” I both directed others and directed myself. I think if I’ve to concentrate on my own acting, I’ll lose control of other factors in the film. But when I was directed by someone else, I could be more concentrated on my own acting and let the director deal with the other stuffs. So it’s better to direct others and control all the stuffs by myself. The reason why I had to act in my own film is that I couldn’t find anyone who dared to act as this character. I had created this character from my own thought and I think it’s better to act it by myself right away. It’s hard to find somebody who is really into this character more that I do.
Q–Does your team in this film school have an influence on your works? Are they supporting you a lot during this time?
A–Yes, they influence me a lot. My style has changed completely after stepping into this film school. When I was in high school, I don’t know who I could talk about film with. But now here I’ve more companions which help developing my own thoughts and attitude a lot.
Q–What is your opinion on starting to make a film since one was young? What did you gain and what did you lose?
A–I think it’s good enough to know what we would like to do since we were young as I decided to get in to this film school since I was in the first year of high school. Another advantage is that we started before the others so we tend to have more development. The only small disadvantage is that we have got skills less than other older filmmakers. Apart from that, I don’t see any disadvantage. There are many young directors upcoming these days and many of them are very interesting.
Q–Most of the young filmmakers’ dream these days is to make a feature film but you once refused it. Are you still having the same willing of not making a feature film?
A–I think it’s good for them to try if there is an inspiration driving behind. They could be our valuable human resources of Thai film industry in the future. But for me, I don’t want to make a feature film because I don’t think I would be able to manage such a huge production. I don’t have enough ability to deal with that especially a mainstream feature film in the film industry. I don’t feel like doing it at all. I think I’ve more freedom when making an independent film like this. We can do whatever we want. If we work in the film industry, we have to be more considered of the feedback and the acceptance of the audience. The income is also viewed as an important factor. The censorship and the rating system also counted. These things lessen the value of our own self-esteem.
Q–What is your opinion on censorship and rating system in Thailand? Will anything change in the future?
A–In Thailand, the rating system has just been launched but the censorship still remains. I think it couldn’t go further than this. I believe that there will still be some problems even we have got the absolutely complete rating system. It’s impossible to make it perfect. But it’s getting better nowadays. The uncut version of a controversial film “The Shadow of Naga” is now allowed to screen in the cinema. So I think the situation might be better.
Q–Excluding the possibility, have you ever thought about making your own mega dream project in the future?
A–Yes, I’ve been thinking about it since I was a freshman which has been two years already. It’s a film about everything: maternity, religion and future era. It will be made as a sci-fi. But the scale is so huge that I don’t think I would be able to manage. The title is quite long. It is called “Bua: A Fantasy Journey of Absurd Woman in Surrealist World to the End of the Humanity” (ความฝันและความหวังของบัวต่อการมีชีวิตอยู่ในวันที่ฟ้าล่มแผ่นดินสลาย). This is what I really want to do.
Q–What do you expect the film industry in Thailand to be in the future?
A–I think it’s getting better. Apart from the mainstream, a lot of interesting independent films are also screened in the cinemas. We have got many great directors too. Many young directors nowadays start to make a film since they were in secondary school which is a quicker than me. I just hope that they will be able to keep improving their own skills. I just hope that everything will be better and better everyday.
Q–Lastly, what makes you the way you are today?
A–I believe in family. I think that the word “family” is the answer to every question. It shaped what we are today. I don’t have a warm family and I don’t love my dad at all. That’s why I’m making this kind of film. That’s what my identity is. I really believe in family, to emphasize.
“This article is inspired by Jit Phokaew’s article on 20 Young Independent Thai Directors : )”
Special Thanks: Pea Panuvatvanich, Chayanin Tiangpitayagorn, Chakorn Chiprecha and Peeraphat Puspavesa