Getting Busted And Prison

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by Locked Up Abroad Production Team

Tuesday February 16 2010
We have an early start to the day shooting gv’s near the Royal Palace and then at Wat Langka Temple where a flock of Buddhist monks are made available to us to do monk-like things (be serene mainly). We then film gv’s from the top of a shopping centre overlooking the city before relocating to an international school for breakfast, which will also double as a Japanese embassy.  A group of local extras show up who are supposed to be queuing at the embassy for visas to Japan. Most of them look like teenagers! No matter, it’s a good scene convincingly acted by our cast. We then relocate to S21, now a museum but a place of torture during the Pol Pot regime. Of the 17000 people who were tortured here, only 7 survived. We filmed on one of the staircases — the scene where Tim breaks down after the press conference. It’s a very moving scene, Justin excels. We then prepare for a challenging scene where a taxi and motorbike collide at a busy road junction. This takes place during the last hour of light, which is at its most magical. We have traffic police on all four corners of the junction and the scene works a treat, much to everyone’s delight. The final scenes of the day are irritated by an Australian ex pat, who demands a pay rise from $50 to $300 only minutes before he is due to show up. We are left in a difficult position and have no alternative but to give in to his demands. What a ****er! We think of paying him in fake dollar bills to get him back, but do the right thing ultimately.

Wednesday February 17 2010
The prison day. Having taken weeks to secure access to this prison we are delighted to be filming here at last. As we are not permitted to film with the real prisoners as extras, we have brought 30 addicts from the Korsang Centre in Phnom Penh to be our prison extras. Many of them have been real prisoners and they look way more authentic than any background artist ever could. It’s a day that runs like clockwork without any hitches. Everybody performs supremely well, but there’s a concern that Justin our actor may have caught scabies whilst lying on one of the beds in an overcrowded cell. So we stop by a pharmacy on the way home for some treatment.

Thursday February 18 2010
The penultimate day. These last two days are filmed at a partially used office building in Phnom Penh because having been told we could film at the International Airport, we were subsequently told it would cost $30,000 against an original estimate of $800. Does the corruption in this country know no bounds? Finally after much to-ing and fro-ing, on Wednesday the 17th we are declined access to the airport and have no alternative but to recreate an airport environment to the best of our abilities within the time frame and budget available. The scenes today are at immigration counters at the Hong Kong and Tokyo airports, followed by the main drug bust scene where the suitcase of heroin is revealed and the contents are weighed on a set of scales. It’s a complicated scene which has to be shot in countless ways. It’s also Barbie’s birthday today so we present her with a card signed by the entire crew and a great big birthday cake. She really appreciated it. We wrap after midnight, it’s been a 15 hour day, we’re all shattered, and we’re nearly there.

Friday February 19 2010
Today is all about the airport scanner machine, which we’ve hired in for $5500. Then we move upstairs to the check in counters we’ve had specially built. It looks pretty realistic all things considered, unfortunately there’s no AC so the heat and humidity is a bind as are the thousands of mosquitoes filling the room who are attracted to the lights. It feels like a very long day, every one is very weary. Well the DOP puts in a gargantuan effort to make the airport scenes come to life. We finally get through them all and wrap the location and most of the crew. The final scene is a driving scene ending back at our hotel. It’s been a roller coaster of a shoot with more downs than ups, but we got everything we went to get and are very pleased with the results. It’s too late for a drink at the bar so I run up to my room to empty the mini-bar and share the contents with my fellow workers. Job done!

Locked Up AbroadBangkok” premieres Wednesday July 21 at 10P et/pt.