Director MR Chalermchatri 'Adam' Yukol makes his big-screen debut with 'The Cop'
Proving that the apple never falls too far from the tree, MR Chalermchatri “Adam” Yukol, the youngest son of veteran filmmaker MC Chatrichalerm “Than Mui” Yukol, is making his directorial debut next week with the crime drama “Sarawat Mah Baa” (“The Cop”).
But the 27-year-old is determined to follow his own path, rejecting his dad’s preference for films with a social or historical message and offering audiences a gritty police thriller instead.
“My goal was just to make an ordinary film that would entertain those who watched it,” Adam says.
The main character in “The Cop” is Inspector Wasan (Somchai “Tao” Khemklad), a cop under investigation by internal affairs but called back to duty to investigate the murder of a minister’s daughter. He’s joined in the investigation by Sergeant Thong (Bamrer “Note Chernyim” Phongintakun) and the young female officer Lieutenant Nalin (Krystal Vee), whose investigative style is the opposite of Wasan’s. Meanwhile, the killer has Wasan in his sights, setting out to ruin him by exposing his role in a previous case. Piyathida Woramusik Mitteerarote plays Wasan’s wife.
“Too many police officers believe that they have the right to kill or commit wrongs as long as they are enforcing the law. This film shows this is not true. Justice must always be in line with the laws of the land,” Adam says.
The young director spent time with the Royal Thai Police, observing their work and then creating believable characters.
“Each character has his or her own distinct personality and they fit in with the Thai police system. They don’t wear leather jackets in my film,” he says.
Adam developed the script with his uncle, Jetjtamrong Setthi, and the result is a story that occasionally harks back to the ’80s.
And while the roles played by Tao and Note ar loosely derived from the police twosome played by Mel Gibson and Danny Glover characters in “Lethal Weapon”, “The Cop” is not a comedy.
The film, he says, is character-driven rather than taking the superstar approach. While Tao’s bad-boy persona is perfect for Inspector Wasan, Adam encouraged his actors to under-act and asked them to be as natural as possible.
His hardest task came with coaching Thai-British actress Vee who can read Thai but is less fluent in speaking.
“I worked closely with her after she’d read the script, briefing her on the emotions she needed to show for each of the situations,” he explains, adding that he cast Vee after failing to find the right person for Nalin among Thai actresses. The young actress does have plenty of acting experience though, having played in Yongyooth Thongkongtoon’s “Jaew” (“Maid”), as well as in Hollywood productions filmed here, “The Scorpion King 3” and “Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li”.
“I wanted a fresh-looking actress who hadn’t gone through any kind of plastic surgery,” Adam says.
“The Cop” features several long takes, including one that lasts seven minutes. Denying that he’s showing off his filmmaker techniques, Adam explains that the extended takes fit the dynamics of the situations, for example to highlight how the team works in examining the crime scene.
“The best cinematic technique is to make the audience not notice it’s a technique. That’s what my father taught me,” he says.
Adam fell into the film business as a child when he answered a phone call from one of Than Mui’s fans. His father wasn't home, so Adam took a message. The film buff wanted to thank Than Mui for helping him kick drugs. The former addict had found his “cure” in Than Mui’s accalaimed 1995 drama “Sia Dai” (“Daughter”).
“I was only seven at the time but I remember being struck by how cinema can change people's lives – by its power to make viewers believe that things can be better,” he says.
He set out to learn everything he could about the craft, studying filmmaking skills from books and at school, observing the lives of people in the street and working as a lighting technician, editor and assistant cinematographer on various projects as well as helping on his father’s productions. To date, he has 30 short films to his credit.
“That’s the influence of my father,” Adam says. “He may be 70 but he keeps learning new things so that he can apply them to his work. He does a lot of research for every project.”
After graduating in film and television studies at Bond University in Australia, Adam set up his cheekily named FuKDuK Production and focused on new media programming while shopping his film projects to the studios. However, he quickly learned that being Than Mui’s son wasn’t a passport to funding.
“I was rejected several times before Uncle Jiang [Somsak Techarattananprasert] greenlighted this project,” he says.
He’s already planning his next film, a smaller-budget indie project that’ll be in English. It’s about three people in a submarine trying to survive after the world is hit by a massive flood. Adam plans to raise funds online by pre-selling DVDs of the film at Bt400 a pop.
Mad dog cop
_ “Sarawat Mah Baa” (“The Cop”) opens in cinemas next Thursday.