Ark Saroj is an openly gay director, photographer and artist from Thailand.
Ark made his first short film ‘Porphyrias’ in 2008, which was shortlisted as the top 8 short films by Movie Mania. With over a decade of experience, Ark’s portfolio includes viral comedy sketches as well as commercials for leading brands such as Laneige, Levi’s and Tinder. “Getaway” marks Ark’s BL drama directorial debut, and he is set to direct another BL drama later this year. In this exclusive, we talk to Mr. Saroj about his filmmaking style, inspirations and much more!
1) Talk to us about your transition from working on viral comedy sketches and commercials to directing your first BL drama?
I think Covid has a lot to do with it. I was not able to take on a commercial job from 2020 – 2021 for a while during the peak of the pandemic.Even though I had some jobs coming once in a while during that time, they were not long-form projects so I had loads of time on my hands and started to explore writing screenplays and pursuing longer forms of directing.So I started pitching projects, writing screenplays and now it’s becoming my new path in this industry.
2) What motivated you to direct your own BL series? What is the background story associated with ‘Getaway’?
I went to a birthday party and one of my friends who is one of the actors in the show (Phillips who plays Dave) mentioned “Gateaway” and asked me if I was interested.A few days later, Steven David Lim (He plays Daddy in the show) also texted me and asked me the same thing.So I was like… Umm is it a sign? and then I met with Sean Foo that weekend.That was when I learnt that the production needed a director who was able to guide the actors, who can speak both Thai and English and a director who was actually gay so he could really understand the script and story. This was the challenging part that attracted me the most.
3) What is your filmmaking style? What do you consider to be your immediate challenges in directing this exciting BL series?
I am very formalist. I love lots of cuts and manipulated feelings by images. but recently I like realistic emotions and still camera shots to be part of some scene and pull back the camera to give it a more voyeuristic approach.I think the immediate challenges are the limited time we had on the actual day of the shoot and the language barrier with everyone which required us to switch between Thai – English but in the end, this is the charm of this piece of work!Another element that challenges me are the comedy parts. How can I make it funny but not cliche?
4) Where do you draw inspiration for your works? Any particular filmmaker, actor or artist or somebody you look up to?
I draw inspiration from Arts and old films. I adore David Lynch’s film and the weirdness of it.
5) Any movie that made you want to become a filmmaker? What kind of movies do you prefer to watch?
“Moulin Rouge” hands down. I love classic American films, musicals, Horror and something that has a campiness in it.
6) The show is majorly depending on the hype created by BL content to bring attention to the struggles faced by the LGBTQ+ community. What are your possible expectations?
I hope this project will make the BL community and creators embrace openly gay actors.We also included a trans character in it.Coming out experiences are still a classic even though it seems like we can move forward to be more accepting now but if you look at it from a cultural perspective, which emphasises family values, there are still many in the community struggling not just with themselves, but with their family.”Getaway” sheds some light on the complicated relationship many LGBT+ people have with their family.
7) Have you watched BL dramas or movies directed by others?
Yes I do. I love Taiwanese BL films “Your Name Engraved Herein” and some of the Thais such as ” I told Sunset About You”
8) Do you think that LGBTQ films and BL dramas are making any kind of difference to the societal perspective?
It promotes visibility and helps to normalise the LGBTQI community so hopefully in the future, we can be more inclusive, especially in Thailand which will hopefully one day pass the marriage equality bill.
9) Talk to us about your upcoming future projects related to LGBTQ+ culture?
I am making a new TV-Series at the moment. It is called “Shadow”.It’s a mystery about an all boys boarding school and ghosts that features bullying, coming out and friendship but in a horror genre. This show will be available on VIU platform early 2023.
10) Any message for the International community? What should they expect from ‘Getaway’?
Just sit back and get entertained!Bangkok is a very charming city and it provides a beautiful backdrop for a story that humanises the struggles of the gay community. I hope the show illustrates that we just want to live and love like everyone else in the world.
The BL Xpress would like to express their gratitude to Mr. Ark Saroj and Dear Straight People for this Exclusive!