What Matters To Me: Nattawut Poonpiriya, Film Director
In the What Matters To Me series, a Generation T honouree describes what they do, why they do it, and why it matters.
Thai film director Nattawut Poonpiriya made his name in TV commercials and music videos before hitting the big time with his award-winning feature films.
Poonpiriya is best known for the thriller Countdown (2012), which was selected as the Thai entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 86th Academy Awards, and heist movie Bad Genius (2017), which was the highest-grossing Thai film of 2017.
Here, Poonpiriya describes his work in his own words.
I’ve loved films ever since I was a kid and have always known that I wanted to be a filmmaker. I’ve never taken a course in film studies; I don’t know whether it’s advantageous to go to a film school, although I think it would probably provide you with the important basics of filmmaking. On the other hand I’ve realised that having not attended film school, I have the freedom of not being restrained by the more theoretical side of things. In place of textbooks and papers on methodology, my training ground has essentially been the films that I’ve watched over the years.
See also: What Matters To Me: Kenneth She
The two features that I’ve made both came from the producers. They’d give me a topic and then it was up to me to turn it into a story and give life to it. Having seen a lot of films and having many cinematic references in my mind, I could see in my head how the film should progress and how the story should be told. I then tailor the creative process to match the visuals I have been thinking about.
Success can be a dangerous thing. You can easily get lost in it
I do want to explore genres other than thrillers. In fact, for Bad Genius I came up with various plots under different genres to present to the producers. It just so happened that they preferred to make the film as a thriller. That said, I’ve directed short films and viral videos in other genres, including romance and drama.
I don’t think success has changed me. Rather, I think it has changed the people around me. Success is like a magnet that draws people in. This includes strangers and people who I know but have never been close to—they have started to take an interest in me. It does make it easier to pitch projects, perhaps because success gives you a certain credibility. However, it can also be a dangerous thing. You can easily get lost in it and think that you’ve finally made it, when in reality you’re only ever as good as your next project.
See honourees in The Arts category of the Gen.T List 2019.