Cambodia - Temples, Books, Films and ruminations...by Andy Brouwer
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Occasionally, I mention some film or television project that Hanuman Films are involved in here in Cambodia or next door in Vietnam. My office colleague Nick Ray and his wife Kulikar are the backbone of Hanuman Films and have been busy over the last couple of years with a number of major projects. Here's a run-down of the documentaries, dramas and television projects they've worked on in that time.
Jeremy Clarkson on a Vespa-boat on Halong Bay in Top Gear
Top Gear Vietnam Special – BBC – 2008
Hanuman Films was selected as the partner for the BBC Top Gear Vietnam special. Top Gear is one of the BBC’s best known programmes and the most popular show on BBC2. The Vietnam special was originally conceived as an old car journey from Phnom Penh to Hanoi, but later evolved into an epic bike journey from Saigon to Hanoi. Jeremy Clarkson on a Vespa, Richard Hammond on a Minsk and James May on a Honda Cub, the journey included Dalat, Nha Trang, Hoi An, Hue, Hanoi and HalongBay. For those who haven’t seen the show, it ends with the conversion of the bikes into amphibious boats to travel to the end point on HalongBay. A television first, it is unlikely we will see motorbikes on HalongBay again. It was quite a James Bond experience filming with six speedboats and a helicopter to capture all the angles. Our Location Manager Nick Ray worked as Line Producer on the shoot and coordinated everything from filming permissions to motorbikes and amphibious with a team of up to 15 in Vietnam. The shoot was a great success and the show received rave reviews in the UK press and around the world.
Ancient Megacities – National Geographic/ZDF – 2008
Hanuman Films was selected as the local production company for a National Geographic and ZDF (German television) drama-documentary on the history of Angkor. This was the story of the incredible hydraulic system of Angkor and how it ultimately contributed to both the rise and the fall of this great civilization. Several actors flew in from Germany for the drama scenes, which included the recreation of an Angkor-era market and the opening of an ancient canal, complete with dozens of labourers in ancient costume. Locations included many of the leading temples at Angkor such as Angkor Wat, Bayon, Ta Prohm, Preah Khan, Beng Mealea, Kbal Spean and Phnom Kulen.
Secret Worlds – Morningstar Enterntainment – 2008
This Travel Channel show sees host Michael Arbuthnot travel the world to discover ancient cultures and their incredible architectural legacy. He meets with leading archaeologists and researchers to piece together the stories of these secret worlds. Hanuman Films was selected to provide all production services for Morningstar Entertainment.
By Any Means – Long Way Down Productions – 2008
Popular motorbike adventurer Charley Boorman went solo for his latest series which sees him travel from London to Sydney ‘by any means’. He uses local transport of every shape, size and speed to travel overland through Europe and Asia. Nick Ray looked after him for the Cambodia part of the adventure, travelling with Charley and the crew from the Lao border at Voen Kham via the MekongRiver and the temples of Angkor to the Thai border at Poipet. Transport included a rocket boat to Stung Treng, dirt bikes over to Angkor, a temple safari at Beng Mealea, an ox cart and a trip on the bamboo train. Cambodia was the highlight of the whole trip for Charley, according to the book that accompanies the series, and the rocket boat one his favourite forms of transport. Nick features extensively in the show, as he and Charley make their way across the country.
The Perfect Trip – MTV Europe – 2008
The ‘Dirty Sanchez’ crew travelled to Cambodia for a series of original challenges around Phnom Penh, including ox racing, snake eating and dabbling in traditional medicine. One of the most popular travel shows on MTV, the Welsh boys managed to get themselves in plenty of scrapes while journeying through Cambodia.
Pepsi Commercial – Radical Media – 2007
Radical Media, one of the world’s largest creative houses, came to Cambodia in October 2007 to shoot a major commercial for Pepsi's 2008 global campaign to promote the European Championships. Locations included the East Gate of Angkor Thom, the temple of Ta Prohm and the Old Market area of Siem Reap. Body doubles were in town for Thierry Henry, Cesc Fabregas and Frank Lampard, plus some pretty good footballing skills on display. The advert was a massive success, featuring Beckham, Ronaldhino passing the ball around the globe in a dazzling 60 seconds.
TUI commercial – Radical Media – 2007
So successful was the first Radical Media shoot that they returned for another shoot just two months later, this time a TUI commercial for the international travel giant. This commercial included elephants at the East Gate of Angkor Thom for both a television commercial and a series of print advertisements.
Al Jazeera – 2007
Hanuman Films has worked on several Al Jazeera shoots in 2007 and 2008. Al Jazeera operates a regional office in Kuala Lumpur and is known for its investigative journalism, covering stories that major news networks have overlooked. Hanuman Films is now an established partner for Al Jazeera in the Kingdom of Cambodia.
The Wonderful World of Albert Kahn – BBC - 2007
Wealthy banker and philanthropist Albert Kahn left the world of investment banking in the early 20th century to travel the world and create a photographic archive of the people, cultures and monuments of the world. The collection was forgotten for many years, but eventually came to light again. In this series, the BBC travelled the world to visit places photographed by Albert Kahn in the 1920s, including the temples of Angkor. He also took many shots of classical dancers and landmark buildings in Phnom Penh. Hanuman Films was selected as the film servicing company for this project.
Dancing Across Borders - @123 Productions - 2007
This is a documentary about a young Cambodian dancer Sokvannara "Sy" Sar and his journey from Cambodia to America, from one culture to another. As a teenager, Sy became an accomplished performer with the Wat Bo School of Traditional Dance in Siem Reap. In 2000, American philanthropist Anne Bass came to Cambodia and watched the Wat Bo troupe perform. She saw that Sy had exceptional skill as a dancer and helped Sy travel to America to study ballet. Hanuman Films worked as the local production company to help facilitate this film.
Ancient Discoveries – Wild Dream Films - 2007
This show highlights the culture of traditions of Cambodia, including the living culture of classical dance, as well as the ancient history of the Khmer Empire and the incredible temples of Angkor.
Beyond the Chair – Travel Channel – 2007
A film about Andrew Shelley’s solo world tour in his all terrain power chair, this is the story of commitment and determination. The story is driven by the drama and conflict that naturally arises from Andrew¹s partial reliance on a power chair, due to his affliction with muscular dystrophy, to navigate through the most remote and exotic regions of the globe. This journey is the ultimate story of discovery and an inspiration to disabled people everywhere.
Turning Points of History – Barna-Alper – 2007
Now in its ninth season the internationally acclaimed documentary series Turning Points of History examines events of the 20th Century that have changed the world in which we live. It allows us to watch history as it unfolded through the eyes of eyewitnesses and principal players. The series has won close to 200 Canadian and international awards and boasts an impressive track record of strong filmmaking combined with impeccable journalism. For this show, the crew travelled to Cambodia to look into the legacy of the Khmer Rouge and protracted civil war in Cambodia, including the blight of landmines.
The Human Weapon – Jupiter Entertainment – 2007
This popular History Channel show came to Cambodia to highlight the national sport of Pradal Serey or Khmer kickboxing. Often abbreviated to Thai boxing, the sport of kickboxing has its origins in the time of the Khmer empire and can be seen on the bas-reliefs at Angkor. Presenters Jason (ultimate fighter) and Bill (wrestler) studied the sport with leading fighters, as well as learning about older sports like Bokator. For the finale, Jason fought against leading local kickboxer Oth Phoutang, younger brother of Eh Phoutang, Cambodia’s all time leading kickboxer.
Digging for the Truth – JWM Productions – 2007
The 'Digging for the Truth' series is the highest rated series on the History Channel and explores the story of how the Angkor temples were constructed and the amazing advances in engineering and hydrology that the ancient Khmers developed in the Angkor area. The hosts worked with conservation experts to help gain a better understanding of the historical and spiritual significance of the temples at Angkor.
Destination Truth – Ping Pong Productions – 2007
On the television side, Destination Truth came over to investigate the story of ‘Jungle Girl’ who came out the forests of Ratanakiri and looked into the existence of 'forest people'. The filming was raw and felt a lot like the Blair Witch Project. Nick Ray worked on setting up interviews and locations and met the crew in Ratanakiri. He was also interviewed by host Josh for the opening sequence of the show.
Jungle Girl – Fox Television – 2007
When the story broke in January 2007, it was big news all over the world. A girl emerged from the forests of Cambodia, almost 18 years after she first disappeared and the international media went wild for the Jungle Girl story. Fox Television contacted Hanuman Films to cover the story for them. Nick Ray (Producer) and Erik Lofting (Camera) travelled to Ratanakiri to interview the girl and her family. They also tracked down the woodcutter who originally found her in the forest.
1000 Places to See Before You Die – Ebsco Productions – 2006
1000 Places to See Before You Die is a travel show based on the best-selling book of the same name. The show features some of the world’s most iconic places and includes a sequence showing Angkor in Cambodia, plus some of the landmark buildings in Phnom Penh. Kulikar Sotho featured extensively as a tour guide in this show, introducing the host couple to many of the best known temples around Angkor and helping them sample the local cuisine and culture. The show also featured HanumanAlaya, our very own boutique hotel in Siem Reap.
Horizon Pandemic – BBC – 2006
BBC Horizon is a popular science and health show in the UK. For this episode, the crew travelled to Cambodia to film a drama-documentary on the subject of bird flu and its potential to spread globally. The shoot involved many actors and support crew, with locations in Phnom Penh and the surrounding countryside. The story followed the life of a construction worker who contracts the illness when visiting family in his home province, before returning to the city where it quickly spreads into a pandemic.
Who Cares About Art? – BBC – 2006
This one-off show was part of the BBC Imagine series about the world of art. The show looks at guardians of famous art collections around the world, including the Louvre in Paris and the Hermitage in St Petersburg. In Cambodia, we decided on something completely different and featured the famous ‘Sweeper of Ta Prohm’, famously shown on the front cover of the fourth edition of the Lonely Planet guide to Cambodia. The story follows his work sweeping around the temples and life with his family, as well his thoughts on life, death and religion.