RMA 2016 interview Prabda Yoon on Motel Mist
A car passes by; a teenage girl gets in on the passenger side. She’s bored and plays with her phone next to the driver. Is he her father? No, he is a customer bringing her to a ‘love hotel’ where she must grant his wildest erotic fantasies. Secretly she sends messages to her cool friend Vicky, who she asks to come and save her. Together they will teach the dirty bastard a lesson. If Vicky arrives on time…
Prabda Yoon’s first feature film is a revenge film. Revenging young girls and the dirty men that want them, as a metaphor for Thai society. The director went to art school in New York and ended up living in the United States for more than 11 years. In 1997 he went back to Thailand where he established himself as a fiction writer.
RMA: You spent a long time abroad, why did you decide to go back to Thailand?
PY: In Thailand there is obligatory military service; I had to go back. But after I stayed in Thailand I started to write.
RMA: Scenarios as well?
PY: First only novels, short stories: fiction. But at a certain point I was approached to write a scenario for Pen-Ek Ratanaruang. The film was called Last Life in the Universe. It was received quite well internationally. Later I worked on another screenplay with him. That was the closest I came to filmmaking.
Two years ago another director approached me because he wanted to turn one of my novels into a film. I told him that I preferred to write an original script, because I thought none of my novels were written to be made into a film. So I made a synopsis and that was Motel Mist. I sent it to him but he said he didn’t like it and choose a novel anyway.
In Thailand, the creative industries are pretty closely linked, so I knew a lot of people in the film industry. I sent the script to my friend, who is my DOP and who was living in NY. She sent it to some producers and then it all went very fast. I didn’t really mean to be fully involved in making the film, but since I had the opportunity I was like: well, I’m halfway through my life and I always wanted to try this.
RMA: What was tougher: military service or making your first feature film.
PY: [Laughing] No, it was a very happy time for me. It was busy, but it was great. Maybe it was also because I accidentally made this film. It was easy for me to make decisions. I was like: ok, let’s just do this!
“I didn’t really mean to be fully involved in making the film, but since I had the opportunity I was like: well, I’m halfway through my life and I always wanted to try this.”
RMA: Why did you want to write about a love hotel?
PY: I always wanted to do something with the love hotels in Thailand. I find them intriguing in terms of Architecture and also in purpose. Why do they exist? We are we embarrassed to talk about them in everyday life, but it exists. These hotels have been here forever and obviously; they are still in business. To me it represents how the Thai society functions. There is a set of rules on the surface that everybody sees and follows and there is also something underneath, which is more twisted and absurd.
Also, I’m fascinated by events taking place simultaneously in different rooms. In general I’m just interested in hotels.
RMA: How about the surreal and absurd parts: do you often play with elements that go beyond human comprehension?
PY: I like abstraction. But as a form of art, I would not consider my film as surreal. It has elements of surrealism because it fits the context, which is alien beings, mysterious things happening, things you can’t comprehend. It has some autobiographical element to it, because when I was younger I was obsessed with UFO’s and aliens. I’d sit in front of a window waiting impatiently for them to come.
RMA: How do people deal with perversion towards schoolgirls?
PY: It happens in Thailand. Young girls offer themselves to older man for cash so they can buy stuff. They do it by themselves; it is not forced prostitution. In the story I wanted to show the strength of the girls friendship. They revenge their third friend who was hurt. And the man… He is a typical middle class man who is supposed to be a good family man, but he’s in a love hotel.
RMA: Here is a small musical present for everyone who loved the film.