Director Songyos Sukmakanan tackles real issues with his TV drama "Hormones"
Just eight weeks into its first, and probably only season, the teen drama “Hormones Wai Wawun the Series”, has sent a shiver of reality through both its teenage fans and their parents.
Directed by Songyos Sukmakanan, “Hormones” offers a realistic and entertaining view of teenage life. Last Saturday’s episode had viewers on the edge of their seats, as the young and naive Dao (Sananthachat Thanaphatpisal) goes into a panic about pregnancy after losing her virginity to her boyfriend.
Songyos highlights Dao’s torment as viewers follow her first – and unsafe – sexual experience, her pain as she realises that her boyfriend has disappeared from her life and her determination to keep the miserable situation from her strict and over-protective mother. The episode shows her surfing the Internet for a solution to her potential pregnant state, trying to buy the “morning after” pill and visiting a back-alley abortion clinic on her own.
Songyos believes that while drug addiction, teenage pregnancy and bullying at school are universal problems, the way each person handles his or her situation is different.
“After casting the actors for the series, my script-writers and I sat down and talked with them about their attitudes. The characters are largely based on the lives and thoughts of my cast as well as the experiences of the other teens we interviewed,” he explains.
When Songyos was first asked by GMM Grammy to come up with the type of content that viewers would not be able to watch on free TV, he immediately thought of “Skins”. While “Hormones” is considerably tamer than the British teenage drama series set in a private school that explores, none too gently, adolescent sex and substance abuse, Songyos still goes further than any previous Thai TV drama. His characters include a girl who enjoys having protected sex on the school premises and homosexual boys involved in a hot romance. Conservative viewers have come down hard on the series, particularly the scenes showing such “reckless” behaviour as kissing and cigarette smoking.
Songyos argues that the series will educate those adults who shut themselves from what really happens in their society while teenagers who watch it can learn from the experiences of the cast.
“Of course, some adults will be shocked to find out what happens in our society. Many parents believe that they can protect their children by prohibiting them from doing this or that. But kids always find a way round the ban and just hide the facts from their mums and dads,” he says.
“But I don’t judge or offer a solution. I believe the best protection is understanding.”
He adds that every episode is thought through thoroughly and there is no aim to stir up controversy.
“My intention is to stay true to the lives of teenagers. We’re very aware of social responsibility and that’s the message we try to get across,” he says.
An experienced film director who made a name for himself with five fellow filmmakers on “Fan Chan” (“My Girl”), Songyos has also scored big
with his solo efforts “Dek Hor” (“Dorm’), “Top Secret” and the teen romantic comedy “Hormones”.
His first TV experience was a remake of the Korean drama’s “Coffee Prince” for cable provider TV TrueVisions and there, as with “Hormones”, he’s incorporated movie-making techniques into the production rather than stick to standard TV series style.
“I don’t spell everything out and I tend to leave viewers a little in limbo. I get thousands of tweets asking me what happens next to the characters. If it helps, I explain to them but often I reply that I don’t know. Viewers who watch American series or are movie fans understand my method of direction,” says the director.
“I know the taste of viewers and the storytelling style that they are used to. I want to introduce a new taste of direction but one that is not too new for them to follow,” he explains.
He hooked in viewers by choosing a good-looking cast, which combines such GTH stalwarts as Pachara Chirathiwat, Sutatta Udompsilp and Michael Sirachuch Chienthaworn with newcomers. The series has turned some of the rookies into superstars, among them Thanaphop Leeratnakhajorn who plays the fighter Phai and Supatsara Thanachat, who portrays Sprite, a schoolgirl with a very free spirit, particularly when it comes to sex.
“The series shows the more unpleasant sides of teenage drama, so their good looks are the caramel that coats the bitter content,” he says.
Although aired on cable TV, which automatically narrows down viewers’ choices, “Hormones” has been such a success that it’s now broadcast live through GMM Grammy’s website and, for the last three episodes, also on YouTube. Ratings have skyrocketed, taking the series from 20th place to third place after Channel 3 and Channel 7 during the 10 to 11pm show time..
“I feel rather like I’ve made a blockbuster film that’s earn hundreds of millions at the box office,” says Songyos with a happy laugh.
The series is scheduled to end in episode 13 and the director says there will be no second season, despite the high demand from fans.
“Since we use the movie making process in every episode, making this series is exhausting. It’s time for me to return to the movies,” he says.
SEE IT, LOVE IT
* “Hormones” airs at 10pm on Saturdays on GMM One.
* Episodes also stream online at www.GMMOne.tv, www.AdInTrend.com/hd/tv1, TV.Sanook.com/hormones and www.YouTube.com/user/gmmonetv.