Tuesday, May 21, 2013

On set with The Last Reel

Running through a scene with Kulikar Sotho, Bonnie Elliott, Dy Saveth and Mary Neth
Preah Ket Melea Hospital, the military hospital near Wat Phnom, was the location for filming hospital scenes, surprisingly enough, earlier today for the feature film, The Last Reel. This is Kulikar Sotho's directorial debut and working hand-in-hand with an international crew, she is shooting a Khmer story, with Khmer actors and dialogue, but with western production values. I went along as an interested observer this morning to watch a couple of scenes involving the two main female lead actresses, the legendary Dy Saveth, a star of stage and screen in Cambodia for more years than she cares to remember, and Mary Neth, one of the best up-and-coming actors, who is taking the lead in her first feature film. The set was a hive of activity inside one of the hospital corridors, with extras and film crew busying themselves before shooting was due to begin. Mary Neth was sitting quietly, looking very calm and composed, reading her script notes, as was Dy Saveth, whose lines appeared to be scribbled onto a battered piece of paper. They were in a small room just off the main corridor, without any air-con I might add, and the heat was stifling, until they were called to set to rehearse the scene before actual filming began. Kulikar walked through the scene, sharing with the actors exactly what she wanted from them, in tandem with her cinematographer Bonnie Elliott. Each movement, each facial expression, literally everything was discussed and agreed before a test run took place. It was an eye-opener as to the intimate level of detail that is required by the director, the crew and the actors themselves. Filming will continue in various locations around Phnom Penh for the next couple off days before the whole crew decamp to Battambang for more than two weeks of shooting.
Director Kulikar Sotho walks through the scene with actress Dy Saveth

Main actress Mary Neth, who plays Sophoun, takes a break from learning her lines

Kulikar Sotho talks with her two key actresses about the next scene, Mary Neth and Dy Savet

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