In seventh heaven
Film studio GTH is celebrating its seventh anniversary, and here are seven facts about the company'Rak 7 Pee Dee 7 Hon" ("Seven Something"), the latest film to be released by GTH, marks the company's seventh anniversary, though it's not the only project celebrating this major event. Other activities in the pipeline include a play, the launch of the GTH app, an online store, the opening of merchandising shop and the launch of a TV station on Play Channel.
But there's more to GTH than just their "feel good" projects. Here's seven things about the company and its successes.
SEVEN OR 10?
The GTH folks may be saying "happy seven" but in fact it's nearer to 10, since the studio's all-time hit "Fan Chan" ("My Girl") was released in 2003. That's the year when Tai Entertainment and Hub Ho Hin teamed with GMM Grammy's GMM Pictures to produce "Fan Chan".
The three companies then merged and the first release by GMM Tai Hub was Yuthlert Sippapak's "Sai Lor Fah" ("Pattaya Maniac") in 2004.
So the seventh anniversary celebrations should have taken place last year. For one reason or another, they didn't and the project was delayed until this year.
Before becoming GTH, Tai Entertainment's Visute Poolvoralaks tested the waters with Hub Ho Hin, releasing the ladyboy volleyball story in "Satree Lek" ("The Iron Ladies") in 2000 and the second episode in 2003.
THE GTH BOARD
Every project is initially approved by the company board, which is made up of eight people and is headed by company president Visute. The executives are Jina Osotsilp, Yongyooth Thongkongtoon, Jira Maligool, producer and script supervisor Wanrudee Pongsitthisak, producer Chenchonnanee Soonthornsarathoon, editing-team head Vijjaphat Kojew and scriptwriter Amaraporn Phaendinthong.
Unlike other Thai studios, every project is submitted as a treatment to the board to approve. The treatment must provide major details from the story beginning to the end, all key situations, climax and important dialogue, meaning each treatment is least 20 pages.
Visute comes up with the titles for around 90 per cent of the studio's films. The company pays a great deal attention to titles like "Guan Muen Ho" ("Hello Stranger"), which portrays the story concept as a romantic comedy taking place in South Korea, and the Thai title brings to mind a Korean name.
Visute says his favourite title is Jaturong Ponlaboon's "Koy Ther Yom" ("See How They Run"), a comedy about a child ghost and a monk. He adds that it's the title that won the fastest approval from the board and again, it manages to describe the film in just three words.
From late 2009, GTH enjoyed overwhelming success with four of its five films grossing more than Bt100 million. The movies were "Haa Phrang" ("Phobia 2"), "Rot Fai Fah Ma Ha Na Ther" ("Bangkok Traffic Love Story"), "Guan Muen Ho" ("Hello Stranger"), "Laddaland" and "ATM Er Rak Error".
Part of that success comes from a change in their filmmaking style. After attempting to release between four and six movies every year since launching the company, they learned to slow down and not plan more on three projects, giving them time to concentrate on each.
Jira cites "Bangkok Traffic Love Story" as a example, explaining that more than four years was spent rethinking and polishing the ideas before the final story evolved. That's obviously not possible with every film - budget comes into play - but time definitely makes for a better story.
Since "Pattaya Maniac", GTH has earned a total of Bt1.99 billion at the box office from 32 films.
THE 'NITADE' FACTOR
The six directors of "My Girl" - Vijjaphat, Songyos Sugmakanan, Nithiwat Tharathorn, Witthaya Thongyooyong, Adisorn Trisirikasem and Komgrit Triwimol - are graduates of Chulalongkorn University's Faculty of Communication Arts, which is familiarly known as "Nitade Chula". Other Chula graduates include Yongyooth, Jira, directors Banjong Pisanthanakoon, Paween Purijitpanya, Mez Tharatorn, scriptwriters Amaraporn and Wanruedee, actress Panisara Pimpru and actor Chantavit Dhanasevi.
Jira says the "Nitade" factor started when he was guest lecturing at the faculty and called for six directors to do "My Girl". The factor snowballed as young alumni were recruited for the production team or as actors.
"It is like we want good teamwork so we choose from people we know, but it doesn't mean that we're not open to non-Nitade," says Jira.
But while that door may be open to others, Nitade alumni seemed to be more prepared to jump into GTH.
Mez Tharatorn, who directed "ATM", quit his job at an advertising company to work on GTH film sets for five years before landing the chance to direct his first film. It paid off: "ATM" grossed Bt152.5 million earlier this year.
"FEEL GOOD" MOVIES
GTH's films are always of the feel-good genre.
"It's what we are but inside the 'feel good', we always have strong and new ideas," says Visute. "I disagree with comments that we stay in a 'play safe' mode and avoid doing something riskier like action or drama. I want to make an action film but have yet to find the right factors to do so."
The seventh-anniversary project started as an idea for a film based on Jira's notion about the seven-year astrological cycle, which is believed to affect people's lives one way or another.
The movie comprises three segments. The first part, directed by Paween and starring Jirayu La-ongmanee from "SuckSeed" and Suthata Udomsilp from "Laddaland", is about life at the age of 14. Adisorn directs the second part, which covers a famous couple - "Dear Dakanda" leading man Sunny Suwanmethanon and Cris Horwang from "Bangkok Traffic Love Story" - breaking up when they are 21 and reuniting at age 28. Jira directs the third part, which features singer Nichkhun Horvejkul from the Korean boyband 2PM and newscaster Suquan Bulakul - both acting newcomers - in a story about a woman going through a crisis at age 42.
In addition to the main characters, fans can expect to see actors from earlier GTH productions in cameos.