Mary is Happy, Mary is Happy is the thai project selected for the final phase of 2012/13 Biennale College – Cinema. Better known as “the movie about Twitter” (which is only a part of it), Mary is Happy, Mary is Happy is premiering at the 70. Venice Film Festival on the 1st September. We caught up with director Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit and producer Aditya Assarat for two interviews about the difficulties of making the film.
INTERVIEW WITH NAWAPOL THAMRONGRATTANARIT
What were the difficulties you found during the shooting?
The pre-production period was too short for this scale of film. First of all, I thought it would be a small scale project, according to my feeling during the scriptwriting process: but after developing the script it became huger and huger. So we needed to work with our instinct (sometimes relying on instinct too much!), which made me nervous all the time, maybe because my scriptwriting time was too short also. It effected the whole process after.
What were the main differences compared to the experience with your previous film, 36?
This one’s on huge scale (for me as an amateur director), much bigger than 36 for sure. The style of the film is kind of semi-surrealistic, so concerning the production design it needed to be real and not real at the same time. It was much more complicated because of a shorter pre-production period; I had to meet more crew members and actors, so i think it’s the biggest production I’ve ever got into.
Is this the movie that you wanted since the very beginning?
This is the movie I wanted, but it’s quite a new style for me (and I think for the audience as well). I’m still not sure if it works or not, it’s kind of experimental. So I think it would have been better if we had had a few more time for scriptwriting and the pre-production process. We might have had more time to improve some stuff or elaborate something in details. This film is quite a new-born baby, so it took a lot of time because of trials and errors.
The movie is based on a true Twitter account: how did the relationship with the “real” girl work?
I haven’t met her yet actually. I just sent her some messages, and she said she was ok with this project, and she replied back with only one question: ‘Why are you interested in my Twitter?’. At that moment, I felt like I was meeting Bob Dylan to get the permission to make a film about him! I suppose she’s kinda poetic person, and I think her answer was cool because it makes her more interesting to me. I think I chose the right girl for the adaptation. After that super brief conversation, I haven’t talked to her again, so I still don’t know “the real her”. But I think we will meet for the first time at Thailand’s premiere screening, and I wanna keep the first-meeting-feeling until that day…
INTERVIEW WITH ADITYA ASSARAT
What were the difficulties you had concerning time and budget?
Generally there was too little time for the entire project. We received the funding in February and had to shoot in May, which means that we could not start the pre-production on a completed script. We had to begin planning on a script that was not completed. The budget was fine: there’s no problem with budget when you know what it is exactly before you begin and it doesn’t change. It means that you can just tailor the script to the budget. That part of the process was fine. The difficulties concerns the schedule in the end: if we had had 2 or 3 months more it would have helped.
Is there anything in particular that worked smoothly and that you had expected it could have gone wrong?
I think we were lucky. We had a relatively smooth time, there was no problem there. The producer and the director need to work together closely. In particular, especially with a short time and small budget like this, the producer needs to be quite strong. The producer must stand firm from the beginning and edit the script from the beginning. Once the production begins, it’s impossible to stop a leakage of money. You must stop it at the script.
Is there anything you wanna share about the backstage?
As I said, I think we were lucky because we had a smooth shooting, no rain ecc.. While I do think we could have used a few more months, I also agree in principle with the philosophy of the project. We must learn to work with short schedules and small budgets. The budget is the reality of the marketplace we are facing. And, in my personal opinion, a project benefits from a fast schedule: it keeps the director’s originale spark of inspiration intact. This is the greatest asset an art film can have. When the spark dies because the development process has taken too long and killed it, you might as well not make it.