Thai BL industry is constantly evolving and that could mean two things- One, that the said genre is gaining mass popularity; secondly it is fast becoming a breeding ground for toxic fanservice and unprecedented controversies.
In the midst of this, we have one Director who has dedicated his love for filmmaking into producing world class movies and dramas that have gained accolades on the global platform. Well known for thought provoking films like “Present Perfect” franchise and adaptations like “2moons2 The Series”, new wave filmmaker Aam Anusorn is outspoken and unabashedly honest. In this exclusive, we talk to Mr. Anusorn about his filmmaking style, casting and much more!
Edited by- Yarnball
1) There are very few directors who have the courage to recreate their own life stories? How personal is “Present Perfect” and how much is it connected to your life experiences?
I believe that making films and all my artworks, my projects, are some kind of therapy that I can portray, or convey something that I am not allowed to say about my work. So back in 2012 situations similar to Present Perfect happened to me and I was so embarrassed. You know, because this was not the right thing to happen to someone who had a wife before – no, someone who had a wife at that time. Yeah, it’s really personal. I recreate a lot of things that happen to me in my work: it’s probably 70% because I feel like I can’t talk about this to anyone, so the way I talk is through the movie. It makes me feel comfortable and convinces people that it’s okay to make mistakes. It’s fine to do something wrong and hurt people, the most important thing is to forgive yourself and realize that you’re making a mistake. Most of my artwork is about this.
2) While I was watching “Present Still Perfect”, I felt this connection to their love story. Did you script their “Happily Ever After” to fulfill the audience’s desire or was it your own?
Actually, I had my own ending of Present Still Perfect even before I created Present Perfect. But I thought at that time, you know, because they don’t accept LGBTQ people, so I shouldn’t put the real ending in Present Perfect because it felt too much like a fantasy, or too romantic. But, you know, Present Still Perfect is like my dream. I want the society to be like this, I want people to think like this. It’s just about love and acceptance. Accept the way you are and accept the way your partner is. It’s not fulfilling an audience’s dream or anything. It is to fulfil my dream, because in the future I wish I can marry and have an ending like Present Still Perfect. That would make my life complete, I guess. If it happens to me like in the movie, it’s good. So Present Perfect is like my real life and Present Still Perfect is like my dream – what I want the future to be. What I want society to be, something like that.
3) “2Moons2” was your first tryst with a book adaptation? You scripted a success story that heralded this series to global recognition. How was the experience working on the show and with the young cast members?
Making 2Moons2 was one of the best times of my life because I learned tonnes on that series. I learned a lot about BL culture, BL industry, which I had no idea about. Even though I scripted Present Perfect because I don’t really care about the BL industry. I don’t get into the marketing and so on.
Let’s talk about the cast first, I had so much fun working with Ben, Dome, Joong, Earth. We were like friends. We didn’t treat each other like I am the director and you need to respect me, because I felt like we were just normal people, so what we should do is respect the position of our work. Like, you should respect me because I’m the Director and not just because I’m older than you.
But working with the company was a disaster – it was a nightmare that I never experienced in my life. I never imagined I was going to meet such narrow-minded people who were jealous all the time. I don’t know what their issue was, or the reason why I got fired, and I wasn’t allowed to direct 2Moons3. Because I know I did the best job and worked like a dog day and night 24/7. It was so hard working with them because they were very picky and they would look down on you first. When I shot 2moons2 I was just having fun with the cast and the way that I updated everything to the fans on Twitter or post pictures with actors, somehow they could not accept that I got more spotlight than them and they just hated me for some reason. I have been through that and I faced the reality that they never credited me as a Director or thanked me while they thanked everyone. I felt really useless and I got very little money from them. I didn’t make a lot of money from directing the series. It was terrible working for that company, but I want to thank them for giving me the job because if they didn’t hire me, I wouldn’t have gotten to direct 2Moons2. The funny thing is that at first, they said I’m your fan, I love your movie but at the end of the day they just hate you and I still don’t know what is the reason.
And 2Moons2 is adapted from a book and the fans of the book had a very high expectation from the series. But I didn’t really care about them. I’m a very bad person, so you have to understand. I was like I’m going to do it my way. Furthermore I’ll make it romantic, talk about love and positive stuff in my series and I added that in the script, and the fans liked it, and I was so happy with that. And I got a lot of pressure before I released the first episode. The company who hired me, when I showed them the pilot episode they said ‘it’s horrible, it’s bad, the fans of the book will hate you, the first part was much better’. I was crying and depressed for a week before the first episode released. But when it was released, it got positive feedback by fans all over the world and they just never credited me. And somehow, they think that they’re the ones who created the show. They spend time drinking beer and doing nothing on the shooting set. But overall, I had a great time making 2Moons2.
4) “BL: Broken Fantasy” was your recent documentary that raised various white flags on fraudulent practices in the BL industry? You love courting controversy, don’t you?
I don’t want to be in the spotlight that much. I don’t want to create controversy or anything. But I wanted to speak the truth and show people that this is happening; this is the real thing. I’m not doing it for me but for the industry to get better, because if we know the problem, we can fix it and we can get better. But most of the time we just keep lying. We know exactly what happens in the BL industry, but we just don’t speak up about this and that’s the sad part. The fans who support BL actors only support the BL actors and never support LGBTQ community, or same-sex marriage. So I just wanted to point out that BL actors and series are human just like us, we need love and security and we need to be treated like humans, just like anybody else. If you want to ask me if I like to be controversial, it might be because I like to point out the problems in these situations and I always speak first before I think. When I tweet or post something on the internet, people are upset but that’s just the way I am and they’re allowed to be upset. So maybe I like to be in the spotlight, because I like to point out the problems of society.
5) Congratulations on the successful run of your recent miniseries “Call It What You Want”. Let’s talk about the subject at hand? I loved watching James’s outspoken attitude and honesty. Again, is it personal or imaginative?
Thank you for saying congratulations. I was so proud of that work. So James’s character is very, very, me. Yeah, it’s me, and it’s very personal. I just put myself into every character in Call it What You Want. Like I can be very professional, outspoken and be brave like James. And I can be a bitch like Ait and I can be sensitive and cry all the time like Bas or be a protector like Marco. Every character in CIWYW represents myself a lot, like 100%.
6) Bas’s caricature was obviously derived from real life experiences. Michael Kiettisak has done an absolutely fantastic job portraying the trauma faced by the victims. What is your opinion about the same?
I just want to say that sexual harassment is still going on in the BL industry. It’s a lot. It has become a norm, and I cannot accept that because the actors get hurt from getting sexually harassed. They feel they’re not worth it, they feel useless but at the same time they don’t want to label themselves as sexual harassment victims, so I really want to help those actors who experienced this. I cannot speak out or go tweet about this, so I made a series which is much more scary and impactful, and I don’t really care. And Michael is a very, very good actor. We opened our hearts and shared a lot of things, because a director and actor need to see the picture in the same way. And I would have conversations with Michael for like six hours a day because I needed him to know what I’m feeling and what the victim of sexual harassment feels when they get abused like that. It’s sad and really tragic and Michael was learning a lot. I learned from Michael as well and we accepted our sensitive sides, and our negative sides, and accepted that it was okay to make mistakes. I always keep saying that making mistakes was one of the best things in my life and I never regret making those mistakes. Because I learned from them, and Michael as well. The funny thing was that after shooting for two months Michael became very depressed because he was so into the character, so he felt like he was Bas already and I had to take him to the doctor to make sure his mental health was all right. The fact is that he just found his sensitive side, because Michael was the one who believed himself to be strongest all the time and then he found his weakness. He got too deep into that, and he couldn’t get out of the character Bas. But he’s fine now.
7) Kaprao Pongkorn played the role of the whistleblower. Do you think that we need more actors like him who are brave enough to voice their issues?
Yes. I think so, but the side effect after they talk out about these issues is – that their life will never be the same, and people will be hurt. And the actor who speaks out about the issue – they will be hurting, their family and their friends, all will be hurting. So, that’s why no one has come up and just said that they’re the victim of sexual harassment.
8) Director Tee might be the most heinous villain that you have ever written. What did you have in mind while scripting this antagonist?
Manager Tee is real in the society, so it was not that hard to write him as a character as there are people like him in almost every industry. People who have lots of power and use that power to take advantage of other people. And I met P’Tee in real life and he was just a horrible person. But I didn’t want my character to be only black – I believe people have black and white – so P’Tee has a good side too. But he deserved to be punished, definitely.
9) The sequel for CIWYW The Series was announced on the finale episode. The audiences are eagerly waiting to watch the romance between Bas and Marco? Talk to us about his pairing and will Bas seek retribution?
Yes, CIWYW Season Two will come out very soon and this part is more focused on Bas and Marco because this couple has been through a lot. Marco is heartbroken because of James and Bas was sexually harassed by Tee. So when such two people get together and love happens like a fairytale, I think it’s going to be very sweet and romantic. You’re going to get sad for sure, you’re going to get angry. I’m just warning you. Please don’t be mad if I lose some of my characters – but I’m not going to do that. Or maybe I will do that (laughs).
But yeah, Bas’s problem will be fixed for sure, but he has to exchange something to fix that, you know. But yeah, Season Two will have more of everything. More love, you know, James and Ait are just so sweet and Bas and Marco are just sad, but they’re good. They’ve had to go through stuff to make them believe that they love each other but in the end I cannot really say how it’s going to be – we might lose someone, but yeah… don’t believe me, please.
10) “Secret Admirer The Series” is your second book adaptation? You were actively involved in the casting process? Comparatively, is the experience of working with Boyy Entertainment better?
Yeah, this is the second book I’m adapting, but I’m changed a lot of things. To be honest, because I feel like the book itself is very boring – I’m sorry to say that. I like the book, but I cannot adapt the book into a series 100% that’s why I have changed a lot of portions. The author said to me, it’s not even like the story from the book, and I took that as a compliment because if it was the same as the book it was going to be kind of boring.
Yes, I selected every actor very carefully because I believe there was going to be drama after I cast those actors. But anyway, I picked them already and I’m proud of every single actor.
Working with Boyy Entertainment is better – yes, especially the environment. They are good people and respect others, not like some companies that don’t allow me to even be friends with my actors – those companies suck, Boyy Entertainment is way better.
11) Earth Teerapat is one of your favorite actors. Personally, being an Earthling myself, I was ecstatic on hearing the news. Why were you so persistent in casting him as the main lead?
So when I wrote the script for Secret Admirer, I just thought about Earth all the time. I was like, no one else can play this role except Earth. And you know, getting him to be in my series was very complicated. His own company and manager tried to play a lot of games. We were just honest and straightforward. Finally, when he got out of the contract we were so happy. Because I’m really happy to work with Earth again. He deserves better, he deserves justice. In the past few years he didn’t have a voice to raise because of the contract and stuff like that, so I’m really glad to have him back in my series again. He is just phenomenal. He is fun to be and we became very good friends, as we just trust each other. I really trust him and he trusts me, so it’s fine right now.
12) Frankly, which is your favorite pairing- BenEarth or FlukEarth?
Ben is my best friend, so which should I pick…? Oh gosh, that’s hard. I’ll pick FlukEarth because I picked them all by myself on 2Moons2. I love Ben though, BenEarth is perfect too, but if I had to pick, I’d pick FlukEarth because I kind of wrote that character by myself and it feels so real for me – FlukEarth, yeah.
13) BL pairings are converted into a marketable brand? What is your perspective about the “Shipping Business”?
I think it’s really suffocating for the actors because when the fans expect them to be a couple, they get upset when any of the actors in the couple talks to another girl or guy. I think the fans should learn to separate the story that’s happening in the series from real life. BL actors who act in series act because of the director, or because of me, who would tell them to act this way. And it’s different from his own personal life, so I think the fans should respect them for that because they are just humans too. Also, I think the managers of the BL actors need to stop the shipping business. Don’t be so hungry about money. You can do fanservice of course, you can do a concert and make the BL couple kiss on stage and make the fans scream, that’s fine – I think that’s a good thing, at least they make the fans happy. But don’t force them too much, don’t force them to post on their personal Instagram or Twitter – they can tweet whatever they want. Don’t force them to tweet this and that or force them to post a picture of this and that to promote fanservice. Because that’s not even real, that’s a part of acting, so the manager needs to stop it and the fans need to understand, I think.
14) If you had to choose between directing films or dramas, which one would you choose? Which form of art is closer to your heart?
I prefer films because making series have really long stories and making one episode of a series is almost the same as making one film. So making films is more realistic for me – the way I direct series, people always tell me that it seems like I’m making films all the time – but I just can’t separate between making films and series. I think it’s the same, because people want realistic stuff and I want realistic stuff too. And BL series nowadays is just weird for me – too much fanservice and the stories are almost the same. I think films are more realistic and I use that kind of realistic approach in my series as well.
15) How you watched Thai BL dramas or movies directed by others?
Yes, of course. I watched My Brother, a very long time ago. It wasn’t a good movie according to me. I’m sorry, I just didn’t like it. I watched TharnType, I just wanted to support my friend Tee, because he came to support my Present Still Perfect and I wanted to support his series, but I have no opinion about that as well. But I’ll just say it’s good. It is a good series, I can’t complain. I personally don’t watch BL because it’s just too much fantasy for me. It’s not realistic, yeah so I don’t watch it. But my BL is the best, just so you know.
16) Do you think that LGBTQ films and BL dramas are making any kind of difference to the societal perspective?
Um, I’m not sure about other countries, but BL series in Thailand don’t have any impact on the LGBTQ community. Most BL fans are not even supportive of same-sex marriage. They do believe in the love between the characters while watching the BL series, but they just deny it later – don’t be offended – but if you ask them to come with us to protest for the legalization of same-sex marriage they’ll say no. They just don’t want to get involved, something like that. And the sad part about this is that they don’t support the BL actors who are suffering, who really need help, they see them but they just close their eyes, and that’s the saddest thing for me. I know no one wants to get into the chaotic and problematic stuff, but we need to open our eyes and accept the truth to make a difference for the society. We need BL fans – they are such a big voice for us, when they support the LGBTQ community, I believe it will make a change but for now they just support the couple in the BL series but in real life they deny it (LGBTQ relationships)
The BL Xpress would like to thank Mr. Aam Anusorn for this opportunity!
One thought on “Exclusive With New Wave Thai BL Director Aam Anusorn”
Great interview with a very honest person:)
Way to call out some of the things you see, Mr. Director!